Thursday, June 30, 2011

Interpretation Assignment

Well, it has been something of a whirlwind five months, but the first phase of our time in the States is done and we are now in the waiting time

Between February and the first of June, I presented stories of the work of the PC(USA) in partnership with MPP (Farmer's Movement of Papaye, for its title in Haitian Creole) in at least 49 different venues, including approximately 30 different churches. I have traveled in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Michigan and all over southeast Ohio, with one trip to Cleveland, Ohio. I have had the opportunity to speak to young children, adolescents and adults, which includes one speaking engagement that was at a retirement home in Virginia.

My biggest hits were always when Jenny and Keila were with me, particularly when Jenny spoke about her work with MPP's rural health clinic. But people have receive me well wherever I've gone. So many families have welcomed me into their homes, some for several days at a time. It has been an amazing experience. Exhausting, but amazing.

The first part of June, I was also invited to spend ten days in Haiti with a team from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, helping coordinate their work of interviewing refugees from the earthquake, and the families who hosted them. They were very full, very intense, but very good days. It was good to be in Haiti, to see and be with friends and work partners, and to spend some nights at home in Bassin Zim. I had a chance to visit the ongoing Presbyterian Hunger Program project in Saintville, and I got to show the Road to Life Yard crew the Power Point presentation that I have been sharing with church communities. The crew members appeared to appreciate the slide show. I was impressed, but not terribly surprised, to find that I knew the presentation well enough that I could translate it into Haitian Creole, on the fly, as it were.

But now the time of running around the country, and the world, is over. Jenny, Keila and I have entered into a time of waiting, the beginnning phase of the next chapter, when we will become a family of four. Jenny feels huge, and it has to be said, yesterday someone asked her if she was expecting twins. She is definitely ready for this part to be over, so that we can welcome our new daughter into our world, get to know her and begin the crazy time of night feedings and diapers, diapers, diapers!

Looking beyond, as hard as that is to do, right now, Jenny and I and our daughters will be going to Nicaragua the first week of September. (Oh yes, did we mention that Jenny has received her green card? God is gracious in deed). Jenny and the girls will be staying with Jenny's family in Managua, and I will return to Haiti at the beginning of October. I will be back in Nicaragua for Christmas, and sometime in January, we will all be together again, with the expectation that we will both be officially serving as mission co-workers for the international ministry of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Starting in January, although my work will continue to be with farmers in Haiti, I will begin sharing my skills and expertise with a network of farmer-focused organizations, rather than serving just with MPP in Papaye.

A heartfelt "THANK YOU!!!" to all of you her shared your homes, helped arrange for the speaking engagements and provided so many encouraging words about the stories I/we shared. these past five months. For those whom I met for the first time, I hope that this experience was the beginning of a long term relationship. It is good to go back and visit people we already know. For those with whom I have already had an ongoing relationship, a special thank you for being the kind of people I can enjoy seeing again and again.

A special thanks to Eastminster Presbyterian Church, Zanesville PC and my own home town and home church, Amesville and the Amesville-New England Cooperative Parish. You are without a doubt, the people who are absolutely the closest to my heart.

In Christ,

Mark (and Jenny and Keila and the Almost Here One!)

Below are photos from a number of the places we've visited. I will provide captions the next chance I get.

Presentation at Amesville Presbyterian Church, Community Dinner (June)

Jenny and Keila with our friend, Buz Durham, outside of Asheville, NC. Jenny and Keila and I were hosted by Buz and his wife, Pat, as part of our visit with the people of Grace Memorial PC, and Warren Wilson College (my alma mater). Buz and Pat were two of the people we met on our travels who are directly involved in agriculture, with many useful ideas and perspectives to share.

My nephew Keegan, niece, Emily, sister-in-law Priscilla and brother, Keith after the presentation at First PC of Newark, Ohio. Keith has now made multiple trips to Haiti, visiting Jenny and me, as well as working with a rural clinic outside of the city of Croix de Bouquets (Healing Arts Mission).

Jenny, Keila and Jenny's brother, Norman, who works with a consortium of self-development programs in Detroit, Michigan. The office is located in the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation offices on Trumbull.

The best visits were combinations of sharing stories, learning new things, visiting family and catching up with friends.

Keila with our friend, Nancy McGilliard, in East Lansing, Michingan.

Face painting, at the Eastminster Presbyterian Church in East Lansing, MI. Our visit there coinicided with the church's annual picnic.

At the Eastminster Presbyterian Church in East Lansing, MI. My Haitian family, Remy Naval (far left) and his sons and children. I got hold of them Saturday, the day before I was to speak at the Eastminster service, and they all made it to hear me speak, except for Jenord, who was in Haiti at the time.

Remy and I became friends when I was doing my Masters in Forestry at Michigan State. Remy and his family were forced to flee to the States after the ouster of President Aristide in 1991. Catholic Refugees Services helped the family settle in Lansing, Michigan, in a home about three blocks from my house. Spending time with Remy and his kids helped keep me focused on the vision I was developing of working in Haiti.

There is evidence that suggests that the CIA was involved in the 1991 coup that removed President Aritistide from office (see for example,,

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