Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday...

Elections were on Sunday, confusion was on Monday, I spoke with Yvka today, results are due December 5th.

Around 50 of the over 1,000 election posts pulsed with tension, Jean Rabel being one of them. The cholera, the corruption, the lack of infrastructure intensified by the earthquake all lead to leaning on some leaning on pure faith for betterment.

Part of Kay Pov’s roof flew away with Thomas, but they are eating each day and Yvka and the other ladies continue tending to them. Dr. Geralda took samples to test all of them for Cholera and Malaria last Wednesday. I fell into Mami’s arms after hearing that our loved ones in Kay Pov eat daily, I sobbed and sobbed humbled to be used as an instrument and without words to express my gratitude for being used.

On Sunday I went to mass. As I listened to the readings I imagined the different groups in Akadyen and Kolet acting out the gospel. The merging of the two worlds, the air conditioned vast church with fluffy kneelers contrasting with the four incomplete and crumbling walls and dirt floor with chickens occasionally joining us, seemed more eloquent than I could possibly imagine. I lifted my head and saw a lady who has been following the blog (like you) and keeping me and all those in Haiti in her prayers. She was in Haiti with me the way Yvka, Fabio, Rose, and Sylvani are with me here. Feeling my heart at rest I allowed the tears to flow. I felt Papi’s hand rub my back and sat back to lean into his chest and while I lay there soothing myself by the beat of his heart and the waves of his breathing I felt myself in the arms of Walter months back. I am grateful. My soul feels a deep peace and deep happiness, not in a pompous or grandiose way, but in a humble and silent way. I am at home, not because of my physical location, but because of my soul. I feel myself in the arms of Home, of Love, no matter where my feet stand. What a gift. What a humbling gift.

I handed over the elections with faith, delighted in hearing Yvka’s laughter again, and am surrendered to the present.

With you,

written on November 30, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

after despair

I fell asleep on the grass, read a book about writing, found a recipe while I was at it, and yet I failed to write to you. So here is my attempt to no longer procrastinate my letter to you. A letter that will attempt to transmit what I’ve lived since my arrival to the States.

Four months ago, I dreamed with Christy’s baby. In the dream, I visited Christy and began speaking to the baby in her womb introducing myself as Tia Luisely. Christy’s voice stimulated the baby to dance in her womb. The baby’s foot poked out and subtly a light from inside the womb made the womb translucent.  The movements became clear to me. Christy pointed out the baby’s organs, and I marveled at the majesty of it all. I could see all the baby’s movements, the fragile fingers, the closed eyes (the way they should be at 5 months). The baby moved and I saw that the chin mirrored that of his uncles’, his eye shape was that of his fathers, and his nose resembled Christy’s. I looked up to Christy in the dream and told her the baby she carried was a boy.
Christy was 39 weeks pregnant when she and her husband picked me up from the executive private airport in Boca on the 3rd. I hugged her and kissed her belly feeling myself grasp onto the life she held within. For the week that followed I accompanied her to see the midwife, watched movies on natural birthing *, read articles and chapters in books about how to best accompany her and “what to expect,” along with assisting with household chores and errands. We went on walks, took naps, studied Dunstan’s Baby Language and prepared the home’s last details for the baby’s arrival.
On the night of the 13th, Christy decided to kidnap her husband and go out for the night. At 3:30am, the couple stood next to my bed while Christy whispered, “I’m in labor.” -She woke me from a dream where I saw the baby fresh out of the womb in a hospital, and studied his eyes, his cheeks, his hair, and toes. – We decided to try to rest as much as possible before the contractions intensified.
A few hours later, I prepared breakfast for her and packed the car with everything prepared for the occasion.  We went to her parents’ house where her sisters gathered along with her mother. We walked up and down the street breathing through contractions as she leaned on her husband. The contractions escalated, and I drove us to the birthing center where the midwife and her assistants were waiting.
Christy radiated with elegance while breathing through each contraction, concentrating and enduring. We walked up stairs two by two; she rocked back and forth on the rocking chair and swayed side to side leaning on us. As she hung her arms around my neck and swayed with me my legs trembled holding her up. I could feel her belly on mine, the baby’s movements and her womb contracting. We breathed together and swayed together. Life was coming forth. Christy clung to her mother who tried to carry her weight, as I held her mother up massaging her back one of Christy’s sisters rubbed mine, a moment of Divine Grace. A cycle of women breathing and accompanying another, one woman held the other in attempts to bear the weight of the one that bore the weight no one could bear for her.
Christy and the baby went on for 27 hours, breathing through each contraction with the support of all of us and without the assistance of medications. The midwife leaned over to both Christy and her husband and said, “You are suffering and tired, the baby’s head is pushing on your pelvic bone and not through your canal. We can continue here if you’d like, or we can go to the hospital now.” In minutes we were out of the birthing center and in the hospital. In the hospital, tests were run. Christy’s platelets were remarkably low and her liver inflamed. Soon the nurses prepared Christy for an emergency C-section where she would go under general anesthesia, the complete opposite of what she planned.
On November 15th at 7:59am Ian Diego Paredes felt the cold hospital air, stretched his arms and legs without boundaries, and a few hours later felt his mother’s warm body from outside and filled his belly with her warm milk.
The experience humbled me and beckoned me to delve within to find the wisdom ancestors passed down to me through intuition. Ian means “God is gracious.”
For the week that followed, I tended to and accompanied Christy and the baby in the hospital and then in her home as her body healed and Ian’s discovered more of Earth and her beauties. The bond between Ian and Christy, Christy’s yearning love for her husband, my understanding of the baby and my body’s natural response to the baby bewilders me.
On the 23rd, I left, allowing the family to carry on as they will and should. While saying farewell to Ian, he opened his deep blue eyes and let them dive into mine allowing my soul to gaze into his and his to bless mine.
Living this sacred time with Christy’s family gave me the life and hope I needed after leaving Haiti. It was a reminder that there is life after pain, there is hope after despair, and that we are always given what we need, it is up to us to open our eyes and see.
With you,

P.S.: I would like to invite anyone who accompanied me in Haiti, who continues accompanying me now in the Miami area to dinner on December 8th at 6pm. It’s a simple get together to answer any questions and a form of thanksgiving our union. If you’d like you can bring a dish to share, anything your heart desires. We will be meeting at Andres Novela’s residence (thank you to him and his familyJ) his address is 5162 NW 114th Ct. Doral, FL 33178. The complex is called Doral Landings West. If more than one of us shows up parking may not be that splendid, but it’s okay, we’ll find locations.
*I recommend watching The Business of Being Born.

Friday, November 19, 2010

the voyage

I left Jean Rabel with my beige back pack, my red sac, and a gift bag carrying passion fruit, coconut, fresh sweets made of coconut, lime, and banana and a fried rooster, all gifts from those I would leave. The Thursday before leaving Jean Rabel, I snuggled the rooster dubbed Monsieur Lion under my arm from MaWouj to Jean Rabel a journey that took us three hours by foot. We were walking back from our last performance together of Theater of the Oppressed. We woke at 4am to take advantage and walk before the sun rose. Some late risers altered the plan and we ended up leaving around 7am. As we walked up the rocky mountains, under the shade of the Eucalyptus, mango, and avocado trees, through the rivers, sliding in the mud, other pilgrims joined our troop. Children walking to school, women carrying merchandise to sell, others with their donkeys equipped with goods, and men walking with their machetes in their hands. Out of all of them, one had the same destination as us and balanced a large cooler on her head full beyond the brim with Sapi-bons, popular frozen bags full of flavored ice, the country’s popsicles. In one hand she carried a plastic container in a plastic bucket and the other was free.

We soon began carrying her burden and means of living. Yvka placed it on her head and with the weight of the cooler wrinkling her forehead she took one step at a time with elegance and laughter as I wiped her brow. We alternated carrying the load for two and a half hours uphill, songs were sung, people joined, dances were danced, people joined, and stories were shared, people joined. Upon arriving to MaWouj, we went separate ways remembering each others’ names in our prayers.

We broke bread together, split avocados and bananas. We performed in MaWouj and the audience responded with a powerful current of energy. The pews could hold no more weight on them. The spect-actors kept searching for solutions for hours until the sun beckoned us to continue our journey home. As we walked, the crimson, purple, and fuchsia clouds painted the sky and out of one emanated the thickest band of rainbow I’ve taken in. For a while we walked in silence honoring the presence of ever-present Holiness.
We all knew it would be our last voyage together (at least for now) and through their laughter, encouragement, tending to one another they continued showing me what our journeys are about. We are here to help others free themselves of their yoke, or share in the carrying of it. We are here to encourage the other. We are here to listen to the other. To laugh, sing, dance, and rejoice with and in the other. We are here to stand in awe of our Creator with the other.

We are here to bind ourselves with the other.

Mousier Lion and I have become very well acquainted since the walk- the coconuts, sweets, and passion fruit as well. I arrived to Port-de-Paix and then Port-au-Prince, took a tap-tap to Grassroots United, and as I helped the non-profit Rebuild prepare for the coming of Thomas was offered a seat on a private jet to Ft. Lauderdale.  The sky above the white clouds displayed a sunset similar in color and marvel as the one our Divine Artist painted for us as we finished our voyage on Thursday. The stars took place of the sun and the jet glided its way further from Haiti and my loved ones on the island. I arrived to South Florida with my beige back pack, my red sac, and a soul carrying all gifts from those I left. My voyage continues.

With you,

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

the journey continues

I am in Florida now. God's gentle way of transitioning me from Jean Rabel to South Florida is through a little boy in my college roommate's womb. That little one fills my heart with hope and new life in such a perfect way after Haiti and my farewell from all those I left. I'm tending to my dear friend in her 40th week of pregnancy. The stories of my journey here: my farewells, cholera, the hurricane, the baby's birth and all the stories to come will be posted. I will continue writing and will continue being with you. I have no internet access for now (slightly ironic), but will go posting as the opportunities arise.

With you,

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Little Prince and the Fox

“What does tamed mean?”

“It’s something that’s been too often neglected. It means ‘to create ties’…”

“To create ties?”

“That’s right,” the fox said. “For me you’re only a little boy just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you have no need of me either. For you I’m only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, we’ll need each other. You’ll be the only boy in the world for me. I’ll be the only fox in the world for you…”

“…if you tame me, my life will be filled with sunshine. I’ll know the sound of footsteps that will be different from all the rest. Other footsteps send me back underground. Yours will call me out of my burrow like music. And then, look! You see the wheat fields over there? I don’t eat bread. For me wheat is of no use whatever. Wheat fields say nothing to me. Which is sad. But you have hair the color of gold. So it will be wonderful, once you’ve tamed me! The wheat, which is golden, will remind me of you. And I’ll love the sound of the wind in the wheat…”

That was how the little prince tamed the fox. And when the time to leave was near:

“Ah!” the fox said. “I shall weep.”

“Then you get nothing out of it?”

“I get something,” the fox said, “because of the color of the wheat.”

“People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed…”

-an excerpt from Antoine De Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince

“You do things so that we’ll miss you,” Fabio repeats as the time gets closer.

I leave in a week.

The ties created leave me enriched, leaving me even more in love with all that surrounds me. And now my time to leave is near, Ah! I shall weep.

Now the sound of a gust of wind through the banana tree leaves, the smell of charcoal with the wet Earth, the tune of Little Richie’s “I feel good…”, and a certain rhythm of the drums send my heart soaring back to those it is tied to.

And I mustn’t forget that I have become responsible forever for what I’ve tamed…

With you,


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Holy Ground

I took off my shoes and let the mud squish through my toes from Kay Pov home.

“Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5

Papi and Marcos came for six days. Each day they were in Kay Pov building a shower, walkway and stairs to the shower. Papi left his shoes behind.

Marcos took a ball and played in front of the house with a group of boys of all ages, all barefoot, sliding in the mud and rocks.

One of Lisanne’s sons picked her body up from the morgue and took his dad, Daniel, with him. He left his mismatched, oversized flip-flops in the empty room.

Now Tiffany sleeps in their room with her brother for protection. Three weeks ago she slept without him; someone entered, abused her, leaving her forehead with a welt covering half of it and a broken lip. She takes off her flip-flops before entering the room.

The committee in Kay Pov is working! Yvka has been officially hired. The Fonkoze account is open both for Haitian deposits and US deposits. Letters have been written to local organizations to ensure a monthly influx of food in Kay Pov. The lady who washes the clothes and sheets of those in Kay Pov will now have ensured pay. She walks with her bare feet on the ground.

Take off your sandals for you are on Holy ground. Exodus 3:5

With you,


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

God gives, God takes

At 5 in the morning Yvka opened the broken door to Lisanne’s room with a warm bowl of buyon (a soup with plantains, dumplings, and yucca).

As the sun rose from the mountains from afar Yvka sat next to her trying to spoon feed Lisanne, monitoring her breathing. Throughout the morning she bathed her in bed changing her clothes since she could no longer contain her bowel movements.

I arrived at 9am, after theater of the oppressed. The flies swarmed around her as she struggled for air. It was as if they knew.

We sat with the others as we planned for the morgue. Madame Lakwa tried to fill Lisanne’s empty stomach at noon while Yvka went off to hide her tears from the rest. They knew, we all knew.

I went to eat and bring back food for Yvka, who hadn’t eaten. Yvka and I stayed accompanying and sharing stories of the time spent with Lisanne as I braided her hair.

The wind blew, the children laughed, Alex complained, Tyler slept, and Lisanne ceased.

I went to her, calmly searched for her pulse, placed my hand on her chest, my finger under her nose, I kissed her still warm cheekbones that I had kissed so many times before and rubbed my warm nose against her cold one.

I walked across the room to Daniel to rub his head. Daniel spoke to me without lifting his head, “M pa kapab fe anyen, m pa kapab fe anyen. I can’t do anything, I can’t do anything.” He struggled up and limped over to his partner whom he had had ten children with. He uncovered her head, leaned over close to her face, straightened up, and limped back to his cot where he sat with his head low. “She’s dead. M pa kapab fe anyen.” I stood up, went outside, found the buyon and offered it to Daniel. He looked at Yvka and nourished himself with his companion’s last meal. He knew.

The wind blew, the children left, Alex complained, Tyler awoke, and Daniel ate.

As M. Lakwa and M. Lissette went searching for assistance at the morgue I continued to braid Yvka’s hair with Lisanne to my right and Daniel to my left.

When M. Lakwa and M. Lissette arrived with the stretcher the sun snuggled into the far off mountains. I thirsted.

They found no one to help carry the body to the morgue. We laid the stretcher by the cot on the floor. I lifted Lisanne’s head and upperbody while Yvka took her legs. Down the steep doorway, through the narrow corner, passed the gate, we carried. The weight of her body perplexed me; Lisanne was pure bones, and her body a cross. As soon as we passed the brick red gate two young men began bantering, laughing. The mockery continued all the way down the hill through the town to the main street.

People began to follow us out of curiosity.

“Who is it?” the voices cried out from porches and kiosks.

“An old one from Kay Pov,” a young woman responded through her smile.

“One less!” they cackled.

“Who is it?” they yelled, “Alex?”

“No, another from Kay Pov,” one of the followers replied.

“Aw, what a shame, I was hoping it was Alex.”

“Who is it?” they asked.

“A moun from Kay Pov.”

Laughter followed.

Motorcycles zoomed by honking and the mockery continued.

It wasn’t until we arrived to the main street that two women offered to help, M. Lissette on one corner of the stretcher and someone unknown to us on another corner. The four of us continued down the street towards the morgue as the crowds continued.

Abba, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

The man at the morgue wanted to discuss business before opening the door for us. Sweat streamed down our faces, the unknown lady went to place her corner on the floor while M. Lissette refuted, “No, we will carry her until she enters.” We did not budge. The man looked at our faces and unlocked the heavy doors to the small room that contained another body. We followed directions placing her body on the floor. We left.

There lay the body of Lisanne “like a dish that is broken.” (Psalm 31)

Our friend

who devoured her rice and beans and only used her spoon to scoop more in her hand,

who squabbled constantly and thunderously with Daniel, but who missed him terribly when he went out for wood,

who would store her powdered tobacco in a knot in the bandana she wrapped around her head,

who opened her clouded eyes towards the sun to sense the sunlight
is now a part of it, of us, all.

All the group of ladies from my first salsa class cleaned out her room today and sat to accompany and feel the wind blow by the side of Daniel and the others in Kay Pov.

Now Tiffany will have a bed.

With you,


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

setting captives free

Approximately 100 bodies packed the preschool classroom where the Sunday services in Kolet take place. Those who arrived later clung to the windows from the outside to catch the show. As I looked around the audience, standing in the back, I could see the sweat streaming down their rich dark skin, babies suckling on their mothers´ breast, children crawling between legs to go further up, but their eyes fixed on the action in the front of the room. I stood in disbelief as I witnessed the group of eight feed off the energy of the audience, improvising and hooking the spectators/spec-actors, having them roaring with laughter and interacting with the characters on stage. “God, these are the same that started with me a few months back, the lacked the courage to speak up loud enough for me to hear.” The miracles continue.

The conversation about the play and the possible solutions continues. People are still playing the game, searching for solutions in their own minds. In our own house on Sunday the conversations revolved around the play and the situation in the educational system, Nazareth and Rose, both discussing possibilities for the oppression to come to an end.

I knew nothing as to what would come out of Theater of the Oppressed in Jean Rabel and tried to follow the Divine Spirit with the eight, taking it day by day.

A missioner who began working in the Northwest of Haiti eight years ago saw the play last Thursday, before we presented it to an audience. After seeing the play we sat together and she asked me, “Luisely, you know that what you are doing in there is not simply theater, right?” “Yes,” I answered. “People in high places may not like you shining the light on these realities.” “Yes,” I answered.

The troop will travel around the department (state) by foot performing in different communities. Tomorrow we will present the play for a group of 48 educators from around the state. May the Holy One continue guiding us, giving us the courage and wisdom to continue seeking the truth, challenging one another, questioning systems, shining light on the oppression in search of justice. May we Love one another through theater, through laughter, drums, and tears.

With you,


P.S.: Neida, you are right, step by step (drenched in faith).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Theater of the Oppressed

Theater of the Oppressed is a form of theater started by a Brazilian director, Agusto Boal. Theater of the Oppressed presents a play in a variety of locations, from the street to a theater, that reflects a situation of oppression lived by the people of that area. Here in Jean Rabel a group of 7 women along with 1 man have journeying with me, exploring their realities to create a play that challenges spectators to change their reality. During this journey the group acted out numerous scenarios of oppression, opening my eyes to unspoken realities. In the beginning they didn´t know the definition of oppression, as soon as I explained the concept they recognized it. Every day they opened their eyes to more situations which they would act out and search for solutions, not through discussions, but by acting it out in the theater. There have been days when I have come home to cry after seeing the injustices and their reactions to them.

We created a piece which we plan to perform in the streets, in different communities, in different places of education that reveals the realities of the educational system here in Jean Rabel. The play highlights corruption in the administration and different ways students and parents deal with the system. The play lasts about 25 minutes and from that point on the audience begins to play. One of the actors, Ermithe, in this case, takes the role of the Joker. She invites the audience to become part of the piece to search for a solution to the injustice by entering the play as one of the oppressed characters. The spectator now becomes a spec-actor, a term coined by T.O. The audience member, or spec-actor, says what scene they would like to enter in and as what character. The actor who played the role in the play gives the spec-actor a part of their costume and the spec-actor begins to act out the solution with the other actors on stage. This continues until the audience decides that a solution has been found, or until they decide they are done. The practice of theater of the oppressed believes that the audience teaches the actors, as much as the actors teach the audience.

It becomes a game the audience wants to win, a game which reflects their lives, a game that may help them change their realities of oppression.

Last week, the group I have been working with decided that the play works wonderfully, but that there is no solution. I heard this slightly heartbroken because after all this time trying to motivate them to search for creative solutions, without violence, they threw in the towel with the play they created. I listened to them and told them, we could continue with the theater, but if they did not believe a solution could be found we would not perform the play for others. I explained that I didn´t say this as a threat, rather as a form of respect for the people of Jean Rabel. “If we go around performing the play without believing in a solution we are going around showing a reality they already now without giving hope of liberation. That is not theater of the oppressed. We can´t ask others to see hope for change if we ourselves are not willing to do the same.” I asked all of them to come up with one solution each for the following session. They did.

We plan on going through with the play; we will see what comes out of it. I pray that it motivate a few to dare to search for solutions and maybe plant seeds of hope in others.

With you,


P.S.: If you have more questions, please ask, I’m more than happy to answer.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


My beloveds!

I haven´t abandoned you, you´ve been in my thoughts and prayers. I´ve received emails regarding the last post, that I did in an attempt to show you that I was still with you, but it didn´t seem to have much success, so here I am.

The two in the last post are Fabio and Pierre (whose mother leaves him in Kay Pov for the elderly to care for him while she goes to the market to sell the goods she can). He fell a week before the picture was taken and still is wounded and that´s why he has the handkerchief wrapped around his arm. All of those in Kay Pov care for him, feeding him (and his mother), scolding him, pampering him, cleaning him, and protecting him. The relationship is beautiful; the way Pierre melts in the arms of Fabio or goes running into his arms in laughter is precious. Pierre adds a spirit to Kay Pov that only a child can add.

This past week prayers were answered, as in every week. The day before Yvka and I were going to go open the account with Madame La Croix and before we began our visits asking for money around the community, three blessings paid us a visit. A priest from Jean Rabel who now resides in the US came along with two of his friends to visit Nazareth. As we sat outside sharing ideas and passions, livestock and dancing, the priest expressed a desire, “I have $5,000 that I had in mind to put towards a center for the elderly, but I have been praying about putting it towards Kay Pov instead.” This came from him, I hadn´t mentioned the ideas or the fundraising. Nazareth immediately directed him towards me, “She´s the one you need to talk to.” The conversation was gloriously providential. The other two gentlemen with him were equally thrilled and willing to pay Kay Pov a visit.

Their eyes, ears, noses, feet, and heart opened to Kay Pov during their visit. They each expressed their desire for the conditions to become more humane, so the conversation continued. Many ideas are swirling in the air, while others are marinating in divine juices, our deep desire is to work with the people of Jean Rabel to hear their desires and to be able to work with them in a sustainable and just way for the people of Kay Pov. We are excited and we need your prayers.

I will keep you updated as we see where God takes us on this journey with Kay Pov. I´m excited!!! So excited!!!

With you,


P.S.: Walter´s better, yesterday evening he told me that God explained to him that I was going to marry a Haitian and have 6 to 7 children and stay net, or for good, in Haiti. I laughed hysterically, telling him that the message still hadn´t gotten it´s way around to me, but I´d be on the lookout. Doctor Geralda visited them today, as promised, explaining all the prescriptions to Yvka, who took on the responsibility of giving them their medications, at the required time and with a little snack if food is needed. I am filled with hope because the last few times that I´ve visited Kay Pov, I´ve met Yvka there doing the same, simply sitting and chatting. They´re our family.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

¡Dios me mima de una forma INCREIBLE!

Walter´s words have continued with me throughout the week and there is no way of not seeing the truth in them. My days continue to be filled with manifestations after manifestations of Divine accompaniment in everything. Mami doesn´t approve when I use absolutes, because in most cases they can lean towards an exaggeration of the truth, more than the truth. But this, Mami, is an exception. Everything I need, even if I don´t know I need it, is handed to me in a creative and abundant way.

From the simplest details like craving sardines this morning with the left over veggies and seeing that on the table Nazareth had placed a can of sardines. Or the ten hours of sleep I enjoyed last night, after telling God how much I truly needed a deep intense sleep. Ask and you shall receive.

On more elaborate details:

My deepest desire in my work here is that it be a journey with the people of Jean Rabel, in such a way that when I leave the work continue in the hands of the community, if that is their desire. Day by day my desires become realities.

Yvka, one of the mademoiselles who volunteers at Kay Pov, and I are raising funds from the community, local churches, organizations, and people with means in Jean Rabel for Kay Pov. The funds will be collected every September (God-willing) and will go in a micro-financing bank called Fonkoze. From those funds we will pay the administrator of Kay Pov (a position we have created), the lady who washes the clothes and sheets, and any miscellaneous work to be done for maintenance of the grounds, such as leveling out the yard. The administrator of Kay Pov (currently Yvka) is responsible for advocating for the people´s dignity and rights in Kay Pov, seeing that the changes needed occur, administrating all the funds, paying the workers of Kay Pov, buying the materials (soap, detergent, razors, etc.), collecting donations in September, visiting each person in Kay Pov every morning and evening to check on their needs, administer the volunteer work, give them their medicines, etc. The group of older women from the Catholic Church who were responsible for Kay Pov in the past fully agree and support this work, we have worked together with all those involved in Kay Pov and they praise God for the changes. Yvka gives herself completely to the work because she believes in it and the mademoiselles trust her and appreciate her. Thank you God!

The mayor, the pastor of the Catholic Church and the town in general agree with the work and plan on supporting it, an enormous step to where we were before.

What we need falls into our arms, if they´re open.

The theater of the Gospel continues to astound me. On Monday at least forty people came to take part in the preparation of Sunday´s gospel, the room could not house so many people so some crowded around the holes of the walls and the doors to listen and see. The reading was about the shepherd with 100 sheep. Even the parable fit perfectly with the amount of people who came to participate.

The play with the group of theater of the oppressed will be presented in the streets of Jean Rabel with the Haitian rhythm in the drums, songs, and dance. I know; I have yet to write in length about Theater of the Oppressed. Before the month ends I will. I sit in awe as I see the group act out their reality and their situations of oppression, sometimes its nauseating, others infuriating, and each time we learn from one another.

The salsa classes asked to perform a “spektakle,” as they call it. I confess that organizing performances and parties is not my favorite passed time, but I said yes, telling God to illuminate me with the choreography and all the other details. Indeed the Creator of all creation collaborated with me and the dance flowed out.

The yoga classes continue and the back aches are slowly waning.

The list of examples supporting the truth in Walter´s words is endless.

I want to share with you one of last night´s treats… If you can, read a letter that Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote to a friend Adore and Trust in God. Another reminder of the Great company we all have.

With you,


Saturday, September 4, 2010

weeping in my father´s arms

As we work to bring sustainable change in Kay Pov opposition to the change arises. Following a meeting with the group of older women from the Catholic Church (Asdac), the mayor´s right hand, Stefan, and the pastor of the Catholic Church, Pe Nehemiah, I went to my haven in Kay Pov, to my family. Fabio opened his arms to receive me, I drew right into them and sobbed. All my frustrations, my sadness, my confusions, I let them go in his arms. Immediately Alex, George, and Flavio gathered around me repeating, “O, oh no, don´t cry, don´t cry.” Tiffany stood up and started screeching and bending back and forth occasionally letting out a laugh of hysteria.

Fabio unlocked me from his arms, set me back, looked into my flooding eyes and asked, “What´s wrong? Did someone do something to you?” Between my runny nose, gasps for air, broken Kreyol, and Tiffany´s chimes of laughter I´m not sure how much I got across, but he listened. They all listened intently. He held me in his arthritic, thin, dark arms until I let go.

I walked into Walter´s room to check on him before I left. The last few visits he´s been sleeping, his health continues declining. When I entered he seemed asleep again, but he scratched his mustache so I leaned in to whisper my blessings. When he heard my voice, his stillness left, “Luisely I mad at you!” “Ugh,” I thought, “Not today Walter.” “Why?” I asked with my congested nose from the tears. “My back hurt ooo so much and you come visit everyone, but me. I hear you speak and you forget me.” As I went explaining my respect for his apparent sleep and reminding him of my messages with the others full of kisses for him, he turned his head and reached out for me. “What´s wrong?” he interrupted. I stayed still; he had heard my tone of voice, felt the difference in my breathing and heard the congestion. “Why you cry?” His concern and his ability to read me without sight left my already vulnerable self in crumbs. I began to weep again he brought me in, as I leaned on his chest filling his shirt with tears and snot. I felt held by Papi. He felt my ribs, the same way he used to check on Stefanie, and asked, “Why you so bones? You eat?” “Yes, I´m eating Walter.” He allowed me to lean on him until my breath reached an almost normal pace and then he said, “God know.” He paused, “Luisely, we don´t need worry. God know. God always know.”

God´s reminders to live submersed in faith didn´t cease. The reading we read during our nightly reflection was the one where Jesus tells his friends to go further into sea and let down the nets. They doubted, but followed instructions. And look what happened. I need to continue with faith, because “God always know.”

With you,


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

lessons learned

Saturday, after a few hours swimming in the sea, I went to the place where I feel most at home and at ease in Jean Rabel, the house of the poor- Kay Pov. I sat with Alex and Tiffany in front of me, surprised to see Tiffany engaging in such a long incognizant conversation with me. Never had she maintained eye contact or a stream of mumbles for so long, mumbles that in her mind must have been quite a tale. I sat delighting in Alex´s notion of time and his way of keeping track of it.

Suddenly a young man, maybe my age, walked up to the patio where we sat. His pants unzipped, his belt hanging from the loops and his toothbrush in his pocket. I observed a bit protectively. He walked straight up to Flavio, Fabian, and Walter´s room. “Bonswa, komon w rele?” I asked waiting to see his manner of responding. The visitor responded with incongruent blabber directed to me, without hostility or sympathy. I asked Alex who he was and if he understood the response. “No, his head turns in circles” he answered referring to the visitor´s mental instability, this coming from Alex, whose head doesn´t necessarily follow a straight line, filled me with tenderness. Alex shared his little knowledge about the young man; he came from Cap-Haitian wanting to stay in Kay Pov, and the older ladies of the church denied him his request. That distracted Alex and he went off on a tangent about how stunning Cap-Haitian is, he had never been, but he had heard of its beauty, I must go visit he insisted.

As Alex went on about Cap-Haitian I saw Flavio walk up to the doorway with his metal bowl in one of his tough hands and his walking stick in the other. The young man practically snatched the bowl from his massive hand with a nod of gratitude, sat down on the floor next to the entrance and started inhaling the rice in it. It had been a while since I had witnessed someone eat so ferociously, because Analise, who gobbles her food, and others in Kay Pov, lack the physical strength and health to eat so rapidly. He looked nowhere as he ate; his eyes were fixed on the metal bowl filled with less rice by the mouthful. When no more rice remained Flavio walked towards him, picked up his now empty bowl and spoon, walked over to the faucet by the cistern, filled the bowl with water and served it to the young man. I paid close attention to see if an exchange of money or goods was to take place, but I waited in vain. The newcomer left as quickly and naturally as he arrived.

“Is he family Flavio?” I questioned.

“No, he´s hungry.”

Flavio responded matter-of-factly, as if giving his only bowl of food received daily to a stranger with more health, strength, and youth than him, but hungry just the same, was the most natural act.

The lessons never cease.

With you,


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

the crumbling chapel, the steadfast people

The clouds hovered over Akadyen altering the color of the ocean who usually wears turquoise. A lady smeared oil on a young teenager´s freshly braided weave, while children ran stomping their bare feet in the dirt under the single tree, a woman paced by balancing a basin of fish covered with a banana leaf to protect it from the sun as she walked to the market to sell them. Past the weave, the tree, the children, the woman, and the fish stood the crumbling chapel.

“We´re missing Jesus, the girl who represents the people who come from the west and the lady who represents the people from the south,” Vincent explained, with a hint of disappointment, “There´s a Madame in the South who is sick, they went to visit her.” “Do you think you can remember Jesus´ lines?” I asked filled with tenderness witnessing his concern. “Bat pou nou antre nan pót ki jis la, paske m ap di nou, gen anpil moun k ap chéche pou yo antre, men yo p pap kapab.” He memorized all the lines.

Mondays I travel about an hour with a doctor, Geralda (whom you already know), to Akadyen. She tends to the sick and I head to the chapel to tend to the hungry of spirit with theater. They come, from all ages to listen to the stories of the gospel of the following Sunday. None can read, and all ask me to reread the story at least three times. After the numerous reading I ask them what sense the story made to them, what they got out of it. Some stare back with blank faces, others smile, and suddenly one breaks the ice. “I don´t understand Jesus, he says the last shall be first, but I don´t see that.” The discussion starts. The blank faces come to life, the smiles open up to express what lies beneath them. I sit elated in the utter presence of the Divine.

Following the discussion we begin to bring the story to life with our bodies. One decides to be Jesus, the other the questioner, the other the one who knocks at the door, the other who eats at the table. I reread the story and we go acting it out, their reality as a people isolated and forgotten by most three hours away by foot from the market where they make their living shines through their portrayal of the stories. Jesus´ parables come to life in Kreyol, in the Haitian people in 2010.

Vincent must have been repeating the gospel story in his head all week in order to remember the gospel, “Luke 13: 22-30” he remembered. We walked into the chapel and with the children, women, and men who already gathered for the service, we read the gospel and practiced acting out the gospel with new people. Slowly the humble chapel filled with life, the uneven, cracked benches wobbled as people smushed to sit.

The winds took the clouds, the people sang and listened. At the time of the gospel reading, their eyes opened with curiosity, they leaned in and became part of the story. The homily was a discussion between us; what we understood, what Jesus´ told us with the story. A man asked a question and a woman would answer, even a young girl added her thoughts. “And you Se Luisely, what do you think?” they asked.

The crumbling chapel, the exhausted lady carrying the fish, the barefoot children- the illiterate, the hungry, the “last”- looking slightly beyond the surface of that picture richness exists-the cultured with their songs, those full of faith, the “first.”

With you,


Friday, August 20, 2010

a doctor's visit

Flavio has sundown syndrome, Fabio rheumatism, Adaniel malaria, and according to Walter only Bondye, God, can tell him what he has.

Yesterday a doctor went to Kay Pov. God knows the last time our loved ones saw a doctor.

Tuesday I told them that the doctor would be coming at 9am in the morning on Wednesday, market day. Never ceasing to amaze me, at 9 o´clock I found all of the mentally stable ones waiting for their date, minus Walter who refused to be seen. Tyler, Flavio, Adaniel and Alex, the market frequenters, all opted out of their biweekly outing for the grand event. Flavio finished buttoning his inside out red Hawaiian shirt over his other, coincidentally, red shirt and fixing his hat. While waiting his turn to see the doctor I caught him stretching out his shirt, attempting to iron out the wrinkles. Tyler shaved, put on his best attire: navy blue corduroy pants, a long sleeve shirt, thick soccer socks, and tennis shoes, as I passed by admiring his apparel for the occasion I observed as he struggled to tie his laces with his one useful hand. By the time he finished sweat spotted his freshly shaven face as he sat with dignity and patience.

Geralda, the doctor who agreed to visit Kay Pov, arrived at nine. I asked one of the gentlemen for a chair and immediately was offered four; it is one of their few possessions, a small wooden chair to shita, or sit.

I wanted to see how Geralda interacted with them and how she dealt with the environment. She noticed that the consultations would be held outside sitting on a chair, asking questions to some who aren’t necessarily completely cognizant. I wanted to see if she looked into their eyes, if she understood the murmurs that stream through their toothless mouths, if she touched their skin without disgust. At first I could tell she was a bit taken aback. Her first patient, Alex went on to tell her everything he could imagine could be going wrong with him and what the cause of everything was. “Can you tell me your age Alex?” “Yes, October 12th.” She looked at me and smiled. Little by little she went understanding them more and more. She tried to give Tiffany a check up in vain. Tiffany kept on running out of her chair, laughing and sticking her hands in her mouth. I walked over and caressed her hair, she would look at me calmly grab my hand with her drooly one and turn her back to the doctor. Alex came with boiled green bananas as an offering for Tiffany. Geralda continued her attempts to consult Tiffany, but in return would be offered chunks of the boiled bananas from Tiffany’s wet hand. Tiffany’s cough continues.

I visited Analise’s and Adaniel´s room to see if they were ready for their consultations. Excrement plastered Analise’s bed and the floor around her. She must have suffered a long night. Geralda walked in, surely smelling the evidence of Analise’s lack of health. Without making a scene she walked over to Adaniel at the other side of the room and started his check up, while we cleaned Analise and her belongings. By the time Adaniel’s consultation ended we decided it would be best for Analise to be seen outside under a tree, the same tree we bathe them under. Analise seemed to have no interest in leaving the room and sensed where I planned to guide her, “I don’t want a shower!” she started yelling as I held her in my hands walking her towards the tree. “A doctor is here to see you.” “A doctor? I don’t have any money, a doctor won’t see me,” she said through a dry laugh. All the while she pulled all her weight, maybe 60 pounds, back towards the filthy room. “I want to lay down.”

I’m sure slightly intimidated, Geralda sat patiently under the tree watching the spectacle. I leaned my forehead on Analise’s and began humming a Bobby McFarrin song she likes to hear and held her in my arms. After numerous kisses on her cheekbones she began to stammer with me towards the tree. As she sat down she started undressing, while patting around the dirt around her in search for her pillowcase which carries all her belongings. Geralda looked at me in shock, I lead her eyes towards Analise’s cloudy ones and she began to talk to her. The consultation began with Geralda touching Analise with her pen to let her know where she sat; by the end Geralda was placing her hand on Analise’s.

Each one handed their prescription to me as they finished. By the end of the morning the collection of prescriptions filled my pocket. As Geralda and I walked down the hill towards a mini-medical dispensary Jara and Pharmaceutics without Borders set up, I thanked her for her gentleness with them, for her patience, and her sense of humor, for going and seeing them. She looked straight into me and said, “This is a pleasure for me, thank you.”

AAAA! God is outstandingly wonderful! I wanted to find a doctor to visit Kay Pov once a month, a doctor to care for them delicately and with dignity. I wanted to find a sustainable way for their prescriptions to be paid for and God with Geralda, Jara, those in Kay Pov, fulfilled my desires. Prescribing medicine to those in Kay Pov comes with more complications than usual. Many medications require food intake alongside them, if they have one meal a day, then the doctor can’t prescribe those medications. None have clocks and some are not aware of the time of day or have the memory to remember when to take their medications. Two madams offered to assist in giving Adaniel, Analise, and Alex their medications. We’ll see how it goes. After Geralda explained how to take each pill, syrup, or vitamin the gratitude expressed to her from all of the conscious ones moved her, and me.

How blessed am I to love these people and see them be loved by others. Thank you God, thank you.

With you,


P.D.: The lady who used to wash their clothes and sheets no longer follows through, so we’re in search of someone else. I have a plan. Pray, that God illuminate us and that God’s will be done through us.

Friday, August 13, 2010

anything asked in faith

I saw them again! On my way to find a motorcycle to give me a ride to Kolet for Theater of the Gospel a lady balancing her merchandise on her head passed by me, “They left.” I turned without fully hearing what she said, “Excuse me Madame?” “They tore down the club because they’re going to build a hotel there.” I never remember seeing the lady, “Do you know where they are?” “Port-de-Paix.” My eyes filled with joy as I smiled.

Today Jara needed to go to Port-de-Paix, I went along. I asked Wilmar, a dear friend and the one driving us to Port-de-Paix, if he could take me to Kay Raul to look for the ladies there. The new place for the ladies must be known because he said we could find them. After Jara´s visit to the bank we took the car, stopped it in the mists of the donkeys, wooden, portable kiosks and walked down a crowded alley full of women selling dried fish, kineps, garlic, shampoo and more. We turned into an even smaller alley and walked into what seemed to work as the alley sewer canal and out of a flimsy door came a figure of pure beauty, Ingrid. Her hair was wrapped with a scarf; one of her sleeves was under her armpit while the other barely clung to her arm. I couldn´t believe it. Neither could she. Ingrid, one who tries to hide all emotion, couldn´t hide the flush of her smile, “Luisely,” she affirmed, as if helping herself believe. She searched for chairs and went to find the others.

My skin filled with goosebumps as I looked into their eyes, laughing and sharing our stories of the past few weeks and the odyssey of finding them after thinking they were lost. I asked them about the change of quarters and of owner, “There’s less respect. The breeze doesn’t flow through, there’s no current of air, the owner charges 20 Haitian dollars per day, 30 on Sundays, when in Jean Rabel we paid 50 for the whole week. All the waste of the alley flows in front of the door. It’s filthy.” They plan on moving to a place closer to the airport until the hotel is built in Jean Rabel, hopefully in June. There, they say, their conditions will be better.

As I listened to them it seemed surreal. Anything asked in faith can and will happen, we were reunited. The conversation ended with hope of a sequel to the encounter. They walked us out into the alley. Ingrid with her eyes locked in mine allowed all her love to flow into me and thanked me. I continued with my eyes in hers as I walked through the kiosks until the chaos of the streets blocked the gaze.

I saw them again! Zaloa’s candy is now in the right hands.

With you,


Friday, August 6, 2010

bearing gifts

Zaloa wrote me. She sent me a novel, mixed nuts (my slight addiction), and a bag of candy. The book and the nuts were for my devouring, but the sweets were to be distributed to our loved ones in Kay Pov and the Disco. I counted the candies and made sure the sizes and the flavors varied equally and head off to Kay Pov. After a few hours of laughing and talking in Kay Pov I was on my way to the disco. An emptied container of Planters NUT-rition carried the goods sent from Spain. The edges of my mouth drew closer to the sky and the haste of my step augmented as I approached the green iron gates of the club. Two weeks had passed since I last saw the women. When I passed the last kiosk to my left before turning into the discotheque, my feet stopped. The thick chain hung heavily on the opened gate and from wall to wall of the property concrete floors and debris were all that remained. The rooms I shared moments of laughter, anger, fear, and hope could not be found. They were gone.

I turned to three women behind me who seemed slightly shocked at my motionlessness, “Do you know where they have gone, the women who worked here? Do you know when they left?” They voiced my observations, the disco closed, nothing and no one remained. I thanked them with grief, turned once more to what used to be my friends’ abode and hell and left, still carrying the container full of bonbons with both hands in front of me.

I’ve collected little bits of information and have returned since. According to a man who sat underneath the mango tree on a broken chair in the empty lot, Ingrid left to Port-au-Prince and Magali and Mauza went to work for a man named Raul in Port-de-Paix. I’m not sure how accurate this information is, if I will see these women again, or if they continue working in the same profession. All I know is my love for them and how much I pray for them and all women in situations of oppression.

With you,


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

in the same sea


I am back from Puerto Rico. I met up with my family about two weeks ago and have not had access to the internet since the last entry, when I ran into a Starbucks in San Juan to write to you. The time with the family fed my soul. My time in the lush island filled my lungs with fresh moist air and my spirit with peace.

The encounter with a more commercial world startled me a bit. My family and I set a few hours apart to buy the materials Rose and Nazareth had asked me to buy to take back to Haiti. While we were there my family took advantage and did some shopping of their own. The lack of congruency with the world lived in Haiti and the whole scene seemed unnatural to me. I must admit, I’m not and haven’t been a lover of the world of commerce or of malls; I tend to avoid them at all costs. Already having confessed that, I felt I needed air and to escape Plaza de Las Americas (the mall we were in). By the time we arrived to the car, my brothers, one with a new hat, the other with a new shirt advocating for mother Earth, were confused. They asked me why I seemed so out of place. I explained to them that in my mind, with the realties I have skimmed, there needs to be a union between the two worlds. We, and all beings, have the right to enjoy beauty in all forms, fashion included, beauty is divine and I see it as a way to find union with God. I also see that we have responsibility in our actions. Where was your hat made? Where was your shirt made? Most probably what were the conditions of those workers and the impact of the environment in making it? You are blessed with the ability and the power to purchase these articles of beauty and with that you have a responsibility. Are we buying simply to consume? Is the item fair trade?

I looked at them through the rear view mirror as we drove out of the parking lot and allowed the air to awaken our senses. Luis’ eyes were full of sadness. “Papito, guilt doesn’t give fruit, nor does shame. I expressed what I was feeling and feel a need to find peace and congruency while living in both realities. We can use this opportunity to decide to change for the times to come.” His eyes filled with hope and determination. Samuel, who wasn’t burdened by any sense of guilt simply said, “I’ll check the tag and ask if it’s fair trade next time.” The wind continued in our faces as we continued on our journey.

“Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more” (Luke 12: 48).

I am back in Jean Rabel, and to my surprise have my head and heart where my feet are. Before leaving Puerto Rico I confessed to the family that I felt so much serenity with them in Puerto Rico that I wasn’t sure how I would feel upon arriving here again. Mami calmly stated, “Have faith, your head will be where your feet are.” She was right. Thank God I feel that I am, once again, exactly where I am supposed to be.

With you,


P.S.: I haven’t forgotten that I haven’t written about Theater of the Oppressed yet.

Monday, July 19, 2010

a promised story

I promised two ladies in my parish back home I would share this story, so although it may appear to be a random entry, it is the story about the ‘beginning’ of my journey here.

I think that October of 2009 is a good place to start. I came back from Joa~o Pessoa, Brazil almost a year ago, July 2009. I left Brazil because I could not extend my visa any longer. I imagined God knew why. The first week of August I began an Earth Literacy program in Genesis Farm in Blairstown, New Jersey. My plan was to stay after the program as an intern for at least nine months. The program augmented and took my relationship with the Divine, and consequently the world, to an even more intimate level. By October, I saw that my time at Genesis Farm should come to an end for now and following my grandmother's death I headed back to Florida. The months that followed were intense. My plans to study in India were changed due to the lack of communication from the institution near Nepal. So there I was, living at home (something I hadn’t done since I was 17) for an indefinite time without a plan. In the meantime, I lived. Exploring the present, starting projects (finishing some and abandoning others), dancing, singing, accompanying my family and those around me in their journey, while being accompanied in mine. The months were rich, as all are.

In the beginning of November or the end of October, I started looking for opportunities that spoke to me. I looked into different Catholic Workers, applied to continue my master’s in California, and searched for other mission opportunities. I was open. Three days after I had explored CRS’s website checking what they had to offer, I received an email from a friend, telling me about a position at CRS that could be perfect for me, if I wanted it. I decided after a week that sending my resume and applying was a good idea. As I sent the application I told God, “If it is not for me, take it from me, give it to someone else.” By December 31st, 2009 I knew I received the job as Area Relationship Manager for the SE region office of CRS US Operations. The position and the people working with me were phenomenal. The position asked for a person with 10 years experience and there I was, an employee that 10 years ago was only 13. The respect and the dignity they treated me with showed that the way CRS treated their employees was true to what they preached about the Catholic Social Teachings.
In me, however, there was an air of inquietude, to say the least. I decided to push that aside, saying, “Luisely, it’s your first salary paying job; of course you may not feel thrilled at first.” Something I had already learned was dangerous.
I immediately started traveling. The second day on the job, I was already in a conference in Orlando, where I was soon to move. Apartment searching was in the agenda, among other simple errands to that effect. After the first day of the conference, after a delightful and genuine meal with a coworker and a friend, I went to my hotel room and received a call from a dear friend. His simple, “Happy new year! How’s the new job going?” was followed by silence. “Oh, you’re going to start bawling aren’t you?” He was right. The tears started strolling down. I didn’t expect the phone call to head this direction, or my night, or my life for that matter. “I don’t feel peace,” I began. Explanations and tears and questions and confusion followed. He listened and asked, “What do you want? What do you see yourself doing?” The first thing that came to my mind was Haiti and it shocked me. “Haiti,” I said, “I see myself in Haiti with the Colombian nuns.” And there it began.

After hanging up with him, I called my Papi; a combination of the time (it was around one in the morning), my stuffed nose, and lack of breath from the crying I’m sure he strained on the other line to understand my sobs. His advice was to take one day at a time, to give the job at least a week, and then to speak with someone in the job about my worries. Papi helped me calm down a bit and realize that at that time I wasn’t necessarily going to resolve much, especially since I had to work in the morning. I hung up and had a few words with our Genius Creator, “Look Diosito, from the very beginning I told you to take the job away from me if it wasn’t for me and now I feel this. This tremendous inquietude. Make it clear. You were the one who got me into this. Make it clear to me before I head to Atlanta what You want me to do.” I closed my swollen eyes, opened my mouth to breath, and went to sleep.

God decorated the following days with transparent signs that Haiti was where I was supposed to be. Three days later little doubt was left in me. CRS, as amazing, and as perfect as it seemed to be for me was to be left for Haiti. The day before flying to the SE office in Atlanta to speak with my boss and coworkers about my decision, I described to a friend on the phone the events of the past week and the clear signs provided for me. When I hung up the phone, I felt it. I felt what I imagine Elizabeth felt when her cousin walked in (I’ve never been pregnant so I know it’s a stretch, but that’s what I felt) I felt the a jump of joy in me. The certitude of the Holy Spirit. I felt peace.

The next day was a Tuesday. I arrived to the SE office, shared lunch with my coworkers and asked my boss for a talk. There I sat in front of her tender eyes explaining, my call to another place, leaving her with a position left open after months of searching for the right person and so much more. She listened and expressed her side. She respected me, admiring me for following the Holy Spirit in the way that I did, and saying, “the works of the Spirit are works of the Spirit.” I was ready for her to spit and curse at me, calling me an immature college graduate that did not know what she wanted. The conversation culminated with a prayer and out I went to explain the story to my new coworkers. They listened in shock with slight sadness and disappointment on their faces, while saying that they understood that where God leads, one must follow. My boss went to her office to call the headquarters in Baltimore to see what steps to take while I went to speak with another coworker. After a little time, my boss came out saying, “How’s your French?” Feeling guilty and wanting to help in any way I could, I answered, “I’ll translate anything you need.” “No, they’re offering you another job.” I laughed. “They are willing to transfer you to Haiti to be head of HIV/AIDS in Haiti." I didn’t understand. “What God! Make up Your mind. What shenanigans is this!”

I laughed a little more and she asked me if she should send the resume to them for the job opening in Haiti. I looked at the coworker I had been conversing with who reminded me, “Luisely, it still won’t be mission, it still is CRS. I would pray.” My boss looked at me and asked, “You want to go to the cathedral and pray?” Any getaway to spend a little time with this exciting God of ours was more than welcome. She called a friend that worked in the cathedral and walked me over to the side doors which were opened for me to go into the seemingly empty edifice. There I sat, laughed, danced, and spoke out loud. There I was, quitting an outstanding job because I felt a deep and sudden call to Haiti, and there they were, asking for my resume to transfer me instead of my letter of resignation. I decided to not worry and just let the one who got me into all of this to guide me. A coworker picked me up from the cathedral and drove me to her home where she welcomed me for the remainder of my time in Atlanta. As we sat by her chimney sipping tea recounting the direct signs and how clear Haiti was in my heart, I received a text from a friend saying, “Pray for Haiti.” I asked her if we could turn on the news, and to our dismay saw the catastrophe. The earthquake had shook Haiti on our drive home from the cathedral.

An array of emotions hard to describe ran through me as I heard the news anchors trying to make out headlines from the unknown. That night I slept little and prayed much. The next day, the CRS office hummed with commotion. The telephones rang incessantly, the news stations visited for interviews, each one of us with a task to inform the dioceses in all the South East US about how and where to direct aid and CRS’s role in all of that. Following lunch, I deciphered it an appropriate time if ever, to approach my angelic and overwhelmed boss. I walked into her office between phone calls and asked if I should write my letter of resignation. She looked at me and said, “Luisely, dear, we haven’t contacted all our employees in Haiti and we are no longer looking to fill that position. Now, we are looking for people with at least one year experience in disaster relief.” I held her hand, thanked her and left. By 6pm, I was back in Florida.
The welcome home was full of confusion. I left a week earlier with a steady, well-paying job, with benefits, that went perfectly with what I had studied, my experience, and my passions, and in less than a week was back at home, again, without a set plan and without knowing for how long. I dedicated myself to listen to God in everything and to live. Submersed in the present. I danced, took voice lessons, did cross fit, deepened relationships, practiced my French, went on retreats and searched to find where God wanted me in Haiti. All the while accompanying my family and those around me in their journey, while being accompanied in mine. The months were rich, as all are.

So that’s the story. That’s how I knew. That seems to be the way God is, at least with me. Guiding me in every step in creative and treacherously delightful ways.
With you,

Monday, July 12, 2010

in the eyes of the other

Theater began last week. Theater of the Gospel on Mondays and Wednesdays and Theater of the Oppressed on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This is my calling, my vocation.

Wednesday before heading out to Kolet, I sat in our little chapel for a little conversation with the most creative of creators and said I was open to whatever creations needed collaborations. The idea of Theater of the Gospel came to us after performing a little skit one Sunday in one of the services. Out of all the people who attended, maybe 5 knew how to read and in other posts where we go for Sunday services less. People thirst to know more about the man they know as their God, Jesus. With many not accustomed to sit in a classroom and listen attentively for an hour or two straight, services and mass consist more of singing and praying what rout memorization has taught them. Thus, theater of the Gospel began.

We read the stories of the gospel, the Good Samaratine, Martha and Mary, but to all who were gathered they were unknown. Seeing the stories slowly being understood and then coming to life in them with bliss and curiosity moves me. A liberation occurs and I witness it. They go from repeating and mimicing to making the story their own, and discussing what the parable means in their own reality. I think this is what was intended with the Gospel. For the parables to be shared and embraced with the reality of those listening, allowing it to be genuine "good news."

In each place before going into the reading I started off with an excercise where each one of us chooses a partner, introduces him/herself and locks eyes with the other. Words, gestures, nor movement are needed. This excercise challenges participants no matter what culture, but some face a greater challenge than others. Haiti is one of those cultures. The education system for numerous years taught students not to look into the teachers eyes, other systems in the country encouraged the same behavior. We rotated partners after approximately a minute. Within that minute though miracles and mysteries occur. While locking eyes with another without intention to convey anything love occurs. I'm not sure if it is because we enter into the depths of the other, or because we see ourselves in the other, perhaps we see the whole world in the other.

I start this excercise by paraphrasing Jesus, "what you do to the other, you do to me," the eyes you stare into are the eyes of God.

In Kolet two men and one woman held back tears while we fixed eyes, in Akadyn a man and a woman did the same, and a child could not hold back hers. Oh the depths of our eyes. Gazing into one man's eyes I was overwhelmed with beauty. Beauty was before me, looking straight at me and I at Beauty. I gazed and saw Pain, I gazed in another and saw Jesus, I gazed in a wrinkled man and saw a child, I gazed and saw the world, I gazed and saw all Divine.

With you,

Monday, July 5, 2010

the entangled pair

Where there is life there is death. This is an obvious concept which some choose to see as a paradox. Some societies try what they may to segregate the two, keeping death out of sight, smell, and touch. Other societies carry on not attempting to conceal the intricate connection between the two, either by choice or by lack of alternative.

Louise, one of the few literate members of the church community in Kolet, gave birth to her sixth, two days ago. The grandmothers chose the baby´s name.

Bethlev’s mother and father buried their 11 year old son a week and a half ago, and yesterday buried another. A month earlier they were the two Rose, feared suffered most of starvation from the family. Their teeth and jaw bones were the most protruding; their cheeks were the most meager. The first death occurred suddenly. The eleven-year-old’s temperature rose rapidly, by the time the mother found a way to reach the nearest nurse the advice was to get him to the nearest hospital as soon as possible. Upon arriving to the hospital, not a doctor could be found. The child died waiting. Since the boy died in the hospital the mother was not permitted to take her son’s body home to bury. The corpse needed to be left in the morgue, which meant paying money they did not have for a service they did not receive and another they did not want.

The father, prior to the boy’s illness, lacked health himself and thus the income of the family starved alongside the members. The payment of the morgue and the transportation to the hospital meant more money taken away from the little needed to feed the remaining family. A week and a half later, their eldest, a boy of 16, died in the same manner. This time there was no money for the transportation to the hospital. The extra expense failed to save the other, nor did it help those still alive.

The house the family, who used to be of seven, resides in is smaller than the room Jara and I use. They divided it in two. Yesterday, as neighbors, family, and friends gathered outside the house Rose walked into the first of the two rooms where she found her friend, the mother, holding a wooden post with both hands, swaying her body side to side, eyes blank, searching for nothing. In the neighboring room the body lay. Alongside the corpse sat his siblings, one of whom, Bethlev, the seven-year-old girl with a leg and foot impediment, with a rising fever.

The cycle continues.

On our way to visit the mourning family we passed by to visit two families, celebrating the three new lives received in Kolet. The mother of the newborn twins lay on her side with one of the babe’s suckling fervently on her breast while the mother trembled with her eyes rolling back, seemingly coming in and out of consciousness. The grandmother tended to the other infant while calmly explaining that her daughter’s fever had not descended in three days. The doctor prescribed medicine. “What medicine?” Jara questioned. No one knew. “What does she have? What did the doctor say?” No one knew, no one asked. Here a visit to the hospital consists of sitting in front of the doctor, allowing him or her to inspect you, taking some tests not knowing and not asking which ones, and receiving a prescription before receiving the results of the exams- of course, paying for all the procedures.

“The breast milk,” Jara cried, “she’s drugging them with whatever she’s taking.” “If they don’t drink that, then what Jara? What else are they going to survive off of?”

“Bethlev has a fever. The disease, if it is a disease, could be infecting all of the family. They all need to be checked. They need an autopsy.” “Jara autopsies don’t exist here. Using money on a corpse that could be feeding those alive? With what money are they going to be examined Jara?”

“We can pay for the exams.” “There are some who already believe that the family is being cursed because they have received so much attention from the white foreigners since Bethlev’s leg operation was covered by us. The family may see this as a punishment from God or a curse from jealous others.”

The cycles continue.

The boy was buried yesterday evening. A nurse visited the two younger siblings today do some testing.

The twins’ legs tucked in and out, both new lives apparently full of health.

Louise’s baby wore a pink bonnet held together by a pin.

With you through these cycles,

Monday, June 28, 2010

Ms. Magnificient Mango Tree

Yesterday Rose, Jara and I decided to take the day as a retreat day. We all went our separate ways after breakfast. My destination for the day was a magnificent mango tree that stands royally behind the house. I took my little sack filled it with a water bottle, a few books, my notebook, a pencil and nail clipper. Off I went. I took off my shoes, left my red sack in a nook created by the offset of three main branches and climbed. I listened to the tree, massaged her trunk and branches with my feet as I explored her beauties. Early on in my climb I noticed that some of her seemingly healthy branches were rotten, so my level of concentration as I ascended into new heights arose. I found a comfy spot and gazed into the horizon, setting eye on mountains, hills, and sights never before seen (to my eyes at least :). After marinating in that beauty I decided to explore other heights and branches in the mango tree. I descended and ascended, calculating my steps, attentive and willing to venture off more. At the time for the sun to set I found a perfect nook way high in the branches where I could see the sun snuggle into mountain's crevices at a distance. The wind swayed the high branches rocking me to sleep. I noticed the danger in falling asleep as such heights so decided it may be time for me to say farewell to my treasured friend.

On my way down, my level of concentration lessened because I decided that if I got down in time I could take a little walk with Jara before nightfall. Half way down one of the branches I relied on snapped. I don't know what happened next, but when I opened my eyes next I was laying face down on a few rocks around the tree. Following my recognition that I was neither dead nor paralyzed I stood up and started walking around, checking for any broken bones. I could walk. I went up stairs and started washing up when Jara found me. I told her I was fine, but the scratches and blood told her otherwise. Confusion flushed Jara, "How can you be radiating when you are all torn up?" I beamed with joy, I was alive and well. I could move, and I had shared such moments of peace in the mango tree. She helped bathe me (I didn't have much range of motion on my right shoulder), disinfected and bandaged my wounds, and dressed me. Today we are off to the hospital to see if we can see a doctor. The body is AMAZING! The way it knows how to heal you and what to do and what not to do. This morning I woke up and could brush my teeth with my right hand. I am fine, just a bit bruised up, but I am fine.

I'll let you know what the doctor says. Ooo, the pictures, well there are three as you can tell. The one to the left is Ms. Magnificent Mango Tree. The middle one is where I landed (notice the cement well right beside where I landed, I tell you it wasn't my time to die). The one to the right is showing the height of a coconut tree that neighbors the mango tree which I climbed above. During my retreat in Ms. Magnificent I talked to God saying, "if today is my day to go I feel peace, I feel I am exactly where I am supposed to be." Uff, what a lesson of humility.

With you,


Sunday, June 27, 2010


The breeze weaves through my freshly twisted hair, seizing the heat of the day and fading voices of the choir. The atmosphere shifts from the excitement and chaos of the festival of St. John the Baptist and Brazil’s game in the World Cup this morning to a more tranquil Friday evening. The week passing, leaving numerous joys along the way:
The women from the salsa class performed for a group of school directors, a seldom, if ever, event for them. Mothers, widows, daughters, grandmothers, all elegantly striding at the beat of the drums and swaying their hips to the rhythm of a Beatles song made Salsa. The spectators applauded, they received the recognition. The once students assisted in giving classes of their newly acquired talent to the group of directors. The humble confidence the ladies slowly gave light to during the lessons these past two months blazed.
Ingrid and I lay on her stunted twin-sized bed, Mauza sat snugly next to us enjoying her lollypop, in Ingrid’s poorly lit, poorly ventilated compartment as we laughed sharing the joys of attaining the water in Kay Pov. The women’s eyes engaged with mine in a way unknown to us as I retold the process of attaining the water, their faces came to life hearing the influence the women acquired by joining together. “Solidarity,” Ingrid said. Silence and goose-bumps followed. Ingrid’s curiosity to see Kay Pov and meet the people there seems to be superseding her implicit confinement. Our friendship mutually liberates us, in our own needed way.
I glorified in the amazing creations that emerge out of Love. All the marvels that come to life because of our attraction to beauty, to Love: the vivid colors and texture of a painting, the delicate melody of a song, the faultless rhythm of a poem.
We tumbled through a 3 hour drive on a white-cloudy, windswept Sunday to visit friends in Gros Moune. Where we joined in watching Brazil defeat Cote D’Ivoire and witnessed outrageous expressions of ecstasy in the crowd with each goal. (Haitians, from what I’ve seen, root devoutly for one of two teams, Argentina or Brazil.) Following the excitement I took a swim in the river right below the gathering. As I lay allowing myself to float along, the rustle of the leaves intensified, the clouds darkened, and thunder joined the leaves in their song. The delicate shapes formed as the rain plunged into the river’s surface perplexed me, the gracefulness produced out of such an instant, overpowering encounter. I allowed the rain to cascade over me as my toes fastened on to the pebbles below trying to resist the current. During the downpour’s intermission as sprinkles replaced the droplets, a faint rainbow outlined a mountain’s peak which tried to show itself through the weighty clouds. Soon after the raindrops returned bringing with them lightning and thunder. A masterpiece sent to finish off the evening.
On the 24th, the feast of Jean-Rabel’s patron saint, Jara and I thanked God for the 6 o’clock mass in the morning because it was the first moment of silence since the night before around 9pm. Our hours of supposed slumber were joined by a concert next door that blasted its Compa and Rara beats the whole night through. We hadn’t been wise and joined the party; instead we stayed tossing in bed. The mass was sent from heaven, it granted us a few hours of deep, drool-coming-out-of-the-mouth sleep. The 9 o’clock mass is the spectacle the town does not miss. Relatives from Miami, camera people from Port-au-Prince, and all the regulars of Jean-Rabel’s streets gather to celebrate the feast. God graced Jara and I with seats in the back corner where the opening for the window and the open doors of the church collaborated generating superb cross ventilation for our section of overpopulated pews. After three and a half hours of singing, sitting, standing, and dancing we left the church with the multitude and tried to see the parades passing by playing music in the blazing sun. The sun eventually gave way to heavy rain which Jara and I thrilled in. As others looked for shelter, Jara and I skipped palm-sized seeds on the newly formed puddle s aspiring to be lakes, splashed around in the mud, laughing and acting our age. Walking down rows of banana trees by the river yesterday we saw the change in the landscape the thunderstorm provoked.
The moon’s brilliance allowed us to see the majesty of Jean-Rabel’s hours of darkness.
Lydia, Yvka, and I crammed our way into a “cinema” across the street. This cinema is responsible for filling our rooms with Shakira’s voice belting out “Oh Africa,” and the rest of the World Cup music repeatedly even before the church bells have a chance of waking us up. The music goes on until the games begin at 6:30am, competing with the priest’s voice and the women’s enthusiastic hymns. The cinema consists of three 16-inch flat screen TVs not too conveniently placed and two walls with the game projected on them. Part of the excitement of game-watching is trying to get a view of the game. More than 300 of us stuff ourselves in the cement structure without windows and with chairs for only a third of us. I found new yoga positions trying to see the Portuguese-speaking players run at least through one fifth of the field, where I would have to find another position to finish seeing the play. The experience improved my flexibility, allowed me to be with the people of Jean-Rabel in a different atmosphere, while all the while being fanned by the first ceiling fans I’ve seen while in Jean-Rabel.
The performance, the visit, the painting, the raindrops diving in the river, the silence, the moon, the game, remind me of what I am here to do, find love in every moment, in every creature.

With you,

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

a particular bond

There is a bond created when 2 Hydrogen molecules connect with an Oxygen molecule that is particular. The compound bends so the H-O-H is not linear as you see here. This particularity, however minor, allows water to possess the qualities to be our life source. (Okay, so maybe chemists can explain this in a much more enlightened and inspiring way, but simply put it is still amazing.) When listening to the explanation of this miracle of creation I remember feeling awestruck at God’s divine detail. We, all living creatures, have been molded to respond to this bent compound of molecules: water.
We carry the water from Kay Se (where I live) to Kay Pov with a bucket over our heads. We, unlike the people living in Kay Pov, benefit from strong legs and backs, eyes without cataracts, and young age.
After nearly two months of pleading with the mayor’s office and pressuring Pe Nehemiah, my birthday wish came true. The day after, on June 10th we decided enough excuses had been heard. The group of women to whom I teach salsa (Lydia, Tutti, Frances, Yvka, Lisnei, Nelly included) and I organized. We gathered and prepared for a sit-in in the mayor’s office with the PVCs and all the material for the installation of the water pipes. Down the street we walked, united with the long tubes above our shoulders, listening to the people’s comments along the way. When we arrived to the county office we laid the PVC pipes along the entrance of the office and walked in. As we entered one by one into the mayor’s office, he stood up noticing the lack of room for all of us in his office; he invited us to a larger office. We went together, all the women and I, and spoke. He listened while men from the office went to find more chairs for the women standing and sitting on each other’s laps in the office. We explained that we planned on waiting peacefully there until the installation began.
The mayor picked up his phone, spoke firmly to a man, Durval, on the other line and hung up. As I sat in the crowded office listening to the mayor’s deep Kreyol, I turned my gaze to the faces of the women beside me. Women of different ages used to the oppression towards their gender, all in need themselves, who united gained the courage to stand up for the rights of the marginalized and have their voices heard. Their faces held strong and determined were paradoxically balanced with an undertone of tenderness, of love. This act of solidarity, of power in numbers, blossomed from the love they felt either for each other, for those in Kay Pov, for me, for justice or for all of those reasons combined, but it blossomed from love. Hanging up the phone, the mayor looked at the array of resolute women and explained that we could leave the material in the office and leave confident that the work would begin the same day. Ugh, I was so sick of being thrown from one place to another and not seeing the water in Kay Pov. We listened and explained assertively that we would take the material to Durval’s office and sit until he walked up to Kay Pov with us to begin; and that’s exactly what we did.
With the sweat rolling down our faces we walked alternating the tubes from one shoulder to the other to his office. On the way, God gave us an unexpected and welcomed gift as we spotted Durval walking down the street towards us. By midday two men had begun the ditches needed for the placement of the pipes. The power of organized, unyielding women united for justice moved not only the mayor, Pe Nehemiah, and Durval, but all of us. The women radiated as they heard the songs of gratitude being sung to them by the residents of Kay Pov, because of our willpower and God’s grace, their standard of living was being raised to a more humane state, and with that, their dignity. Since we are all one body, their benefit is our benefit.
We left with our hearts lifted, our heads high, and our voices rejoicing, singing, “Mesi Jesu-O, Mesi Gran Se mwen, mesi pou tet ou kan manm nen mamn nen ou. Thank you Jesus, Thank you Grand sister of mine, thank you for keeping your hand in mine.” We’ve had a few setbacks (to say the least) since June 10th, but 5 days later the water flowed through the pipes, out of the faucet and into the hands of our beloved ones in Kay Pov. Changes are happening: two women now are in charge of washing their clothes and leaving them to dry before six other women rotate days to tend to them. Today they had meat in their daily meal. The Alex, Fabio, and Walter, and Fabien are starting to use the bucket I brought to throw their trash in rather than littering their abode. And…there is water in Kay Pov!

There is a bond created when 2 Hydrogen molecules connect with an Oxygen molecule that is particular. The compound bends so the H-O-H is not linear as you see here. This particularity, however minor, allows water to possess the qualities to be our life source… We, all living creatures, have been molded to respond to this bent compound of molecules: water.

With you,