Monday, February 27, 2012

Haiti & the Dominican Republic

There are now videos on YouTube that explore the history of the DR & Haiti that help explain many of today's cultural and linguistic differences.

There are actually at least five parts. Type in "Haiti & the Dominican Republic: An island divided" to get the listing for all of the parts.

I have only watched the beginning of the first part. Let me know what you think.

Thank you Marya Nowakowski for sharing this link. Many people have asked Jenny and me why there two countries are so different. Hopefully these videos can provide some in-sights.

Many blessings.


Here is the link to the Part 1:

Monday, February 13, 2012

One leg to go

Jenny and Keila and Annika and I are in Nicaragua. We arrived this afternoon at 1:30 PM and our friend, Douglas Orbaker picked us up. This is the next to the last leg of our jounies before arriving in the Dominican Republic to start our new assignments as mission co-workers with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Jenny has been assigned to use her health worker and other skills with the Evangelical Church of the Dominican Republic (Iglesia Evangelica Dominicana), and I will be traveling half of each month to Haiti to begin sharing ideas learned in the Central Plateau with MPP with other Farmer Movements throughout the country, beginning in the Leogane area, where the communities are still struggling to fully recover after the 2010 earthquake.

This part of our journey began January 3rd, when we flew to Toronto, Canada, for Jenny to begin the ecumenical portion of her PC(USA) World Missions orientation. Jenny's orientation continued in Louisvile for two weeks and ended January 27th, with a poignant ceremony welcoming Jenny and three other mission workers into new appointments. Jenny is now officially a member of the mission worker team. As one the members of my church in Amesivlle, Ohio noted: "That wonderful! But what in heavens name was she before?"

I served as the childcare "expert" during these four weeks. Let me tell you something. I thought coordinating a team of between 14 and 20 independent-minded Haitian farmers was a tough job. But trying to coordinate two independent-minded little girls, 6 months and 2 1/2, pretty much beats it. I wish I could say that I got good at it in the four weeks. I do remember one day I got both Annika and Keila taking their naps more or less at the same time.

The best I can say is that I did well enough to give Jenny a a good number of days when she could fully participate in the orientation for several hours at a time. She has graciously told me she appreciates the job I did.

We also had help from Sarah, my niece from Granville, Ohio. She drove down to Louisville a few days after we arrived there (January 17th) and stayed until the 28th, when she drove us home to Amesville. And she, her mother, Priscilla and her brother Keegan, helped Jenny with the girls for a week, while I was in Haiti with a group from First Presbyterian Church of Royal Oak (near Detroit, Michigan).

Managua-Houston-Toronto, Toronto-Atlanta-Louisville, Amesville,Granville, Columbus-Atlanta-Managua. From family and friends in Managua, to friends and work in Toronto to friends and family in Louisville, to family in Amesville and Granville and now, back to family and friends here in Managua. (If you needed anything crazier, a chunk of my family is coming down here to Nicaragua on Wedenesday to spend 11 or 12 days working at Rancho Ebenezer, where I served as a PC(USA) mission volunteer from 1998-2004. This will be my family's 11th trip.)

Tie up loose ends here for the next two weeks, then get on the plane one more time, for a good while, and go to the DR, look for a home in Barahona in the southwest, and begin settling in. March is the month for that--no other work, just find a house, and figure out the basics.

Thank you all again for your support. Continue to be with us in your thoughts and prayers, and let us know how we can keep you all in prayer as well.

In Christ,


Jenny and the girls and I then got to spend

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Hey Friends,

I am in the Miami airport waiting for the 7:50 PM flight to Columubs, Ohio. I am on my way home from a week in Haiti with four friends from First Presbyterian Church of Royal Oak, Michigan, Tom, Trish, Mariana and Leila. My brother, Keith, also tagged along and spent the week as one more member of the group and we had a translator from Leogan--JC. We had a good week together, getting to know each other. Well, I guess I already knew Keith, but even so, we got to spend time together in ways that we hadn't since we were kids sharing a bedroom, together with our oldest brother Bruce.

It turned out to be a real pleasure getting to help the group connect with folks from the grassroots organization of small farmers, Mouvman Peyizan Papay (MPP). I am so grateful to all of the people in MPP who helped put together the trip for the group. Chavannes Jn Baptiste, the director, who always gives excellent advice and has encouraged and guided me in my work for almost eight years, now. Tyresias Juslene and Accene Joachim, the two assistants to the director, who valiantly continued to share some of MPP's history with the group Tuesday night, even as we shifted the audience and the translators while working to deal with a participant who was experiencing some illness. Thanks to Verona and Charite Jean and Josette and Eliz and all of the kitchen crew, Carel the driver. Also Evelyne and Ifonis, who provided the toilet paper and the treated water, and did the trouble shooting when any problems arose.

Thaks to Wilner Exil, who helped us coordinate our visit with members of MPP's first Eco-village and thank you to Lowò and the community members, who received the group with such warmth, even as they were suffering their own tragedy.

Wilner also coordinated our visit to see some of the yard gardens in his community of Leodiagüe (see the blog, "A Celebration of Yard Gardens", November 16th), and shared breakfast with us at his home.

Thanks also to Agame Elfraüs who coordinated the work at his home in Saintville, and also helped with a number of the other details of the visit.

Special thanks also to Mis Marie, a wonderful woman who runs the pharmacy at MPP's Integrated Health Center, "Mironda Heston." Mis Mari helped coordinate all of the work for for Mariana and Leila. Seemingly out of nowhere, she brought together a group of seven or eight community dental workers who willingly came to meet with Dr. Mariana and the dental student, Leila, to share their stories of their work, and to listen to the ideas and techniques that Mariana and Leila had to share.

Thaks to the staff of the Ti Do and Basen Zim Elementary schools. They welcomed the group to their schools and into their classrooms. They and their students shared songs with the group from Michigan, and listened and laughed and sang together with the puppets from Royal Oak, who showed them the why and how of brushing teeth.

It was a full and for me, fulfilling week. I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to serve with the people of MPP, and am humbled by the individuals and congregations who have supported Jenny and me and our whole family, all of you who through your prayers and your donations make our work possible. You represent the two facets of our work. This week was a chance to let those who support and those with whom we serve come together in sacred space.

Many blessings to you all.

Mark, Jenny, Keila and Annika

The rest of the group will spend the night in Port au

Search This Blog