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,


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Miracles in Stillness

I know, I know, I´ve been slacking. It´s been over 10 days since I´ve written anything, so before telling you my many stories I would like ask for your forgiveness and let you know that I´m not planning on making this the norm.
So now, let the stories begin…
It seems God knew I needed to spend a little bit more time learning the lesson of simply being in the present. Of not preoccupying myself with all the plans I had, but with embracing what is happening now. On Sunday (the 30th), after assuming the recuperation process was at it´s end, my health started going downhill again. By nightfall my fever had risen and my body weakened. The following day I planned on working in Kay Pov with Dianne and Frances, the two ladies who I had planned could accompany me on Monday s to bathe the people of Kay Pov and to wash their abode. Monday morning putting my hair in a ponytail left me out of breath, so I simply prayed and waited. Frances came. I explained their preferences and nuances, gave her the bucket for the water, the lotion, the soap, the mop and blessings, blessings, blessings. Diane did not show and Frances and I knew the task at hand should be done with another. So I asked another friend, Tutti. She explained that if she did not finish making a certain amount of cards for her work she would be behind and then not receive her pay. She looked at me and smiled saying, I can go to work early tomorrow and catch up. I kissed her, blessed them both, and praised God for the miracle. As they washed our loved ones in Kay Pov, cleaned their home, massaged their bodies, I lay in bed and prayed, sending my blessing and love to the two women caring for those in Kay Pov.
With each passing day my health stayed in the same state, as my hopes ascended to levels new to me in Haiti. The opportunity for these miracles to flourish would have vanished if I would have had perfect health. I would have continued being able to go to Kay Pov, visit the women who work at the club. I would have continued as the healthy, foreigner who helps, rather than being seen as a human receiving love and help from others. Lydia would not have administered the flow of people willing to help in Kay Pov on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturday s. Antwanet would have not related to the prostitutes as a fellow mother, as she did when she saw the joy as they read the letter I sent to them out loud wishing them a joyous mother´s day (28th of May here).The conversation I shared with those around me, those who visited me, would not have occurred, conversations where true sentiments flowed out of our hearts and into the other’s open hearts. I bound myself with the other. Relationships are all turning aright: the community of Jean Rabel with Kay Pov, women of status with the prostitutes, me with our sisters and brothers here in Haiti, slowly becoming right-relationships. The week where I physically did less, where I was the recipient of attention, I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to. My inability to go forth allowed others to become the protagonists in the story, in their community – my true desire. The people in Kay Pov received manicures, pedicures, haircuts, shaving, hairstyling, bathing, clean clothes, and love in actions, love in deeds. The women tending them rejoice from seeing the happiness and gratitude of the people in Kay Pov. Exultations flow out of us all.
I’m in better health now, and I am seeing the fruits of God´s work through us. As the people of Jean-Rabel turn their eyes, their heart, and their hands to Kay Pov, with the daily food, the accessible water (in the works), the willing and dedicated hands and ears, the time for my hands to tend to other forgotten ones may come sooner than I thought. As our Love continuously reminds me, it´s better when I am not in control and I just follow the Spirit one minute at a time.

There's more to share, I'll write soon.

With you,