Thursday, December 5, 2013
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Well, here it is--Advent once again. I actually find that Advent is one of my favorite seasons of the Church year--and even more so as I grow older. That sense of expectancy and excitement that I experienced as a child waiting for Christmas has deepened into a sense of expectancy and growing awareness of God's presence in my life and in the life of our world and universe. There is always that sense of mystery that God is "coming" and the reality that God is--and has always been--here among us! Pretty wondrous thought even in the midst of at world that often seems at odds with itself! Advent seems to be to be a time when I can say over and over, "Come, Lord Jesus," and at the same time, "Jesus, I need your presence in my life NOW" And sometimes I wonder: Isn't all of life a time of "Advent," a time of expectancy and waiting, a time of hope?
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Frequently we think of basements as places to store the things just to get them out of our way. A major area in the basement of our motherhouse, however, provides storage for many of our congregational treasures—the great gift of our heritage and history. Sr. Helen Jacobson, our congregational archivist, spends her day organizing, maintaining, and sharing that heritage.
aspect of Sr. Helen’s work that constitutes both a blessing and a challenge is
dealing with our house histories. “I am continually touched by the level of
faith and hard work exhibited by our sisters regardless of their ministry or
geographic location,” she explained. “They endured terrible hardships in many
places yet carried on with great resourcefulness and dedication for the sake of
the children, sick, or elderly in their care. It’s humbling to know that I am
connected with these women.” And the challenge? After beginning her work in our
archives, however, Sr. Helen realized that in recent years—with the increasing absence
of “regular convents”—these histories were not always being maintained. With
the assistance of a task force, she designed a contemporary approach to
recording life at the local level so that it can be preserved for posterity and
future research. Thus the annals which Sr. Helen diligently reminds our sisters
to submit each year!
Sr. Leonora Juliani sorts and files the house histories and annals received from each of our convents
Friday, November 22, 2013
Once a month we have BINGO with the children of the village and some of the adults as well. Everyone gathers in the chakoon at 2 P.M. It is the only activity I’ve ever seen for which a lot of people actually early! They play BINGO, win prizes, laugh a lot, and end with a nice snack. What’s not to love?
On Thursday, Sr. Nora McCarthy arrived. We were so happy to see her. She will stay with us for about two months. This coming week Sr. Fidelis will be taking her to see our clinic here in Ferrier and to visit Dr. Seneque and Fr. Parnell in Pestel.
I won’t be able to go on those trips because I’ll be teaching English classes. I don’t mind because I enjoy teaching and I have been to those places before. However, on Friday I have no classes and Sr. Fidelis is going to take Nora and me to visit some of the villages which I haven’t seen yet. We’re both looking forward to that trip!
Today, after our Sunday services, Srs. Fidelis, Nora, and I took a walk over to the home of Mr. St. John, an elderly parishioner whose house was badly damaged by our last big storm. A group of parishioners came along with us. We prayed together in thanksgiving that Mr. St. John’s house has finally been repaired and for God’s blessing on all the people of the village who helped to repair it. The workers were led by our young carpenter, Simeone, who offered his services free of charge. Sr. Fidelis walked all around the outside of the house blessing it with holy water. There is some work left to be done inside the house but that will have to wait because there are still many other people whose homes need to be repaired.
September 28, 2013
Yesterday, Sr. Fidelis took Nora and me to visit several different villages. I can’t keep the names straight and could never find them by myself but we had a good time. We stopped to visit our Sewing School. We are temporarily renting the house of Phenicq, one of our KPA members but if this sewing school is successful, we will have to find another location within the next two years. Loubert, the KPA member who supervises this project, was there to meet us. He gave us a little tour and showed us some of the work which the sewing students have been doing. They’ve made some lovely, colorful things. I plan to bring some with me in the summer.
As we were leaving the Sewing Center, I learned a little pronunciation lesson in Kreyol. I was telling Loubert that he is a “good man”—a “bon gason” in Kreyol. I always tend to pronounce the “s” like a “z.” Sr. Fidelis is always very insistent about correcting me but I never understood why before. Then as I looked down, I noticed that there was a nice lawn in front of the house which is unusual because many Haitians remove the grass from around the house. When I commented about it, I learned that the word for lawn in Kreyol is “gazon.” I realized that I told Loubert he is a “good lawn!” I think he still appreciated the compliment!
October 4, 2013
We really enjoyed St. Francis Day together! We each contributed something. Sr. Nora prepared the prayers. Sr. Fidelis wrapped a lovely gift for each of us. I tried my hand at cooking a nice meal to go with the tasty “Caribbean fish” we bought from our neighbor. (She also cooked it for us in return for a share in the catch!) The final topping was a yellow box cake with chocolate icing. It should have been very easy but here in Haiti, easy is sometimes a bit more complicated. We have a little oven which you sit on top of the stove and is heated by the burners underneath. You have to keep adjusting the flame to keep the oven at the correct temperature. Well, I was having difficulty keeping it at the right temperature. I wasn’t sure why until I saw the cake batter leaking out of the bottom of the oven. I didn’t realize that the rack had dropped so the cake was cooking sideways. I managed to salvage three quarters of it and that was only the first layer. The second layer turned out fine so I put icing on both layers, and put them together. It turned out just fine!
Monday, October 28, 2013
Boats docked in the marina at the along the riverwalk in Beaufort.
We also visited Parris Island Marine Base which is very near Beaufort. They have a large museum that details involvement in many wars. I think the part that I found most interesting was actually the early settlement of the island. The Spanish who settled there found Native American settlements already there.
We ended our day with our arrival in Savannah where we stayed two nights at the Courtyard Marrriott--another lovely hotel. We were given directions to various restaurants in the area where we could go for dinner. Sr. Albertus and I went to the Crystal Beer Parlor where we discovered several others from our group were also eating. I had my first taste of she-crab soup--something I really enjoyed to the point of ordering it twice again later in our trip!
Wednesday, October 9
We had a great breakfast at the hotel and boarded a trolley for a guided tour of Savannah. What a beautiful city. The homes--many of the dating back before the Civil War--were like something you'd see in a movie. I especially loved the beautifully landscapes squares throughout the city--some wnet on for blocks but each one seemed to be dedicated to a specific person or an historic event.
Before boarding the bus, I made a stop at the Savannah Candy Kitchen to buy candy for home and work. Quite a temptation walking through that store!
Then off to the theater--the Savannah Theater--for a musical production called Jukebox Journey. It was indeed a journey through the music of from the 40, through the 70s. What a delightful and enjoyable experience. I found myself clapping in time to some favorites and singing along--very softly, I promise--to others. At one point e were all doing the motions to YMCA!
Thursday, October 10
We left Savannah Thursday morning and headed to Charleston. We stopped at the Charleston Visitors Center where we picked up some brochures and then headed back to the bus to meet our local guide for a tour of Charleston. Once again I was fascinated by the beautiful homes--like something out of a movie! The guide pointed out the beautiful porches--more correctly termed "piazzas"--that usually were built on the side of the home to catch the breeze.
We also visited the grounds of the Citadel, a military college in Charleston. We were able to go into the nondenominational chapel and the gift shop. Throughout the chapel were flags from each of the states.
This giant class ring is on the grounds of the Citadel and the date on it is changed each year.
We were dropped off near the waterfront area for some time on our own to shop and to get lunch. Sr. Albertus and I had a nice lunch in a restaurant called the Noisy Oyster and I had my second cup of she-crab soup. Even though there was a gigantic coconut cake on a display table right next to us, we decided to wait for dessert because we had spotted a store across the street that sold gelato. Of course we had to make a stop there.
On our walk we noticed a church steeple up one of the side streets and went to investigate. The church was closed but we did stop in the cemetery--very old with graves dating back well before the Civil War.
Our guide pointed out a series of about four warehouses that, I believe, were originally cotton warehouses. Today they are used by vendors who sell everything imaginable. I bought a few souvenirs to take home as well as a set of scarves for myself.
We headed back to check into our hotel--the Springhill Suites--and to our surprise, one of the managers dressed in an antebellum style gown boarded the bus to greet us and to invite us to have cookies and punch before going to our rooms. We had about an hour to relax before heading back to the riverfront to board for our dinner cruise. We had several options to choose from for bother appetizer and entrée and I chose as my appetizer--you guessed it--she-crab soup!
Friday, October 11
We left the hotel and as we began our last day of actual touring spent a good bit of time at the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. We began with a tour of the plantation house, I found the history really interesting, especially the various generations of family members who lived there and who built and/or refurbished various parts of the house.
I made sure I got a photo of trees with the ever-present Spanish moss that we saw on trees through various parts of the Low Country. We heard from various guides that while the moss attaches itself to the tree, it doesn't take anything in the way of nutrients from the tree. All of its nutrients come from the air around it. We also heard the story of how, when the settlers first came to this part of the country they were much impressed with the moss. They decided it was much better and would prove more comfortable to stuff their mattress with it instead of the straw they had been using. What they didn't know was that the moss served as "home" to a lot of little bugs called chiggers. They soon learned, however, when they began to suffer the effects of the chigger bugs!
One of the most interesting parts of the day for me was the tram ride through the grounds, especially the swamp areas. At this point I was completely lost as to what was swampland and what was marshland but I know that rice had been grown in some parts and that alligators still lived in other parts! Our guide also pointed out various types of trees and other forms of vegetation.
One part of the tram ride was through what had been the slave quarters and some of the houses are still standing.
Following the tram tour, we enjoyed a box lunch in the pavilion and were joined by one of two roosters that seem to have "free range" around the property. During the day we also saw a peacock strutting around as well as other creatures who roamed freely over the lawns and fields.
During the remainder of our time, Sr. Albertus and I walked through the gardens--so beautiful and so varied. I couldn't be begin to described the variety of trees, plants, and flowers that so beautifully lined the paths.
Following our day at Magnolia Plantation, we were on the road again--heading back to where our journey began--in Fayetteville. Once again we were dropped off near the mall to get supper while John and Chick took our luggage to the hotel. This, time, however, John pointed out several restaurants adjoining the mall. Sr. Albertus and I went to Smokey Bones and enjoyed a nice dinner.
Saturday, October 12
We left the hotel about 7:30 and began our journey home, stopping only for rest breaks and for lunch. It was late afternoon when we arrived at Harrah's Casino in Chester where the first group of us disembarked. The remainder of our group was heading up to New Jersey. It was, indeed, a journey that I had waited a long time for--but it was truly one to remember. And for those memories, I thank our tour guide, our bus driver, and the fantastic group of "pilgrims" with whom I traveled--and, of course, Starr Tours who always provide such great quality!
Friday, October 25, 2013
The photos give you just a glimpse of what's available. All of the proceeds go to our foundation to help our retired sisters and our ministries.