Monday, June 30, 2014

C2 - Haiti Trip Update

The team was up bright and early today for daily Mass at 6:30 AM and then jumped right in to the first day of camp.  About 200 children arrived by 8:30 AM, many of them walking for 2 hours through the mountains. There are 6 animators, young adults who travel the diocese putting on vacation bible school-type camps, as well as the teachers from the school.

The theme of the camp translates into English as "Helping children to have a more beautiful life."  After the opening songs and cheers typical of any summer camp, the team divided themselves among the age groups. Connie and Jen were with the youngest children who are about 4 to 6 years old. Carol was with the slightly older girls, about 8 to 10 years old,  Bruce was with the boys about the same age, and  Erin was with the teenagers. Erin and Fr. Effener played a spirited game of volleyball with the teens, cheered on by younger campers, and Bruce proved that he can jump rope as well as any little girl at the camp!

The children are fed a simple breakfast of bread and cheese and then settle into Bible lessons and crafts. During free time, the children sang "This Little Light of Mine" in Creole to the team. They learned this songin English from the C2-Haiti missionary team of 2012, and it has become a camp favorite.

Lunch for the children was a bowl of rice and avocado. The team was deeply affected by how spiritual the children are:  while the teachers and animators were briefly occupied, the group of 10 year old boys sang and said grace on their own before lunch without any adult prompting.

Lunch for the team was roasted goat, french fries and fried plantains. After the children went home around 3 PM, the team had the chance to reflect and process their experience of the day. A group of girls who live near St. Anne's joined them on the porch in the afternoon, and they continued to teach each other Creole and English words.

The team turned in by about 9:30 PM and will get another early start in the morning. They plan to head into the city of Gonaives tomorrow after camp.

Please continue to keep Bruce, Carol, Connie, Erin and Jen in your prayers, as well as Fr. Effener and the children, teachers and animators at the camp. Also, feel free to post encouragement to the team in the comments section.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

C2 - Haiti Trip Update

Our Travel Team had a wonderful first day getting settled in to Labrande. Sunday Mass is a major event in the community, and some people walk over two hours through the mountains to attend. The music is beautiful with a Caribbean sound made by bongo drums, keyboard and saxophone and an energetic choir.  Fr. Effener introduced the team and invited Bruce to address the congregation in English while he translated into Creole. Fr. Effener thanked Nativity for helping to support the camp for the children.

Mass lasted close to two hours and then everyone was ready for lunch of rice and beans with shrimp.  There was a dessert of fresh orange and banana juice over shaved ice, a refreshing treat in the heat of the day. After lunch, the team walked through the village, escorted by Jean Rouvens -- a graduate  of St. Anne's school who is known by previous Nativity missionary teams. Jean Rouvens now attends secondary school in the city of Gonaives, about 45 minutes away, and is  home for the summer.

Although the team had been prepared for the conditions of this poverty-stricken mountain village community, the reality is more stark than they had realized. Many of the dwellings are little more than small cinder block structures with a tarp. Yet, the parishioners came to Sunday Mass in crisply starched and ironed clothing, after walking a long distance to get there.

The team will turn in early tonight and attend daily Mass at 6:30am, before the children arrive for the first day of camp at about 8:30am. They practiced more Creole with Fr. Effener and Jean Rouvens so they are ready to meet the children.

Keep praying for Bruce, Carol, Connie, Erin and Jen as they connect with the children, animators and teachers tommorow. You can also leave them encouraging comments which they will be able to see here on the blog. Check back for more updates on our team soon!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

C2 - Haiti Trip Update

Our missionaries have arrived at our strategic partner St. Anne's Church in Labrande, Haiti!

The team (led by Bruce McEntee with Jennifer Ayres, Carol Guarrieri, Constance Thorn and Erin Vernon) left from Nativity at 5:30am this morning for their first flight -- Washington-National to Fort Lauderdale -- and after a short layover landed in Port-au-Prince around 3:00pm. Fr. Effener, the pastor at St. Anne's, was at the airport to greet them and help them with their luggage.

The team split up into two vehicles and  Fr. Effener took the team to a restaurant in Port-au-Prince for a late lunch- their first meal of many with goat meat.  They practiced Creole phrases and Fr. Effener practiced English.  After lunch, the team hit the road for Labrande.  Driving up the coast through some small towns and large cities such as Saint Marc and Gonaives was an adventure, each busy as market day drew to an end with shoppers, vendors, motorbikes and more.  They were all struck by the intense, vibrant activity of the street markets.

After a 4 hour drive, the last 45 minutes on an unpaved, gravel road, the team arrived in Labrande.  They settled into the rectory and had a supper of oxtail soup and dumplings before turning in, 17 hours after leaving Nativity.  They will be up early for Sunday Mass tomorrow.

Be sure to check back for more updates and leave comments here and on our Facebook page to encourage the team and show your support!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

C2 - Haiti Team

We are so excited to send off our first missionaries of the summer in just a few days. The Haiti team leaves early on Saturday morning. The name for our strategic partnership with St. Anne's Church in Haiti is C 2 - Haiti ("c" squared) because it's about a church-to-church relationship. When our churches come together, we can grow exponentially. 

This summer's travel team, led by Bruce McEntee with Jennifer Ayres, Carol Guarrieri, Constance Thorn and Erin Vernon, are going to make a huge impact on our 
partnership by sharing their love with all those at St. Anne's Church. They will be participating in a week-long summer vacation Bible camp. The camp is run by teachers from the school and 'animators' who are college students that travel around hosting camps at different parishes. 

You won't want to miss any of their stories here on the blog -- be sure to check back in on their progress and get updates from the trip. Feel free to leave comments and notes here to support and encourage the team members, and subscribe to the blog or like us on Facebook to make it easy to follow along.