By Steve Schmitz
During this Lenten time we will introduce you to several Haitians we have met as we have been stepping out forming and being formed as Disciples. The year is 2002, I clearly remember listening to John Locher speak from the ambo about a new thing the All Saints Social Justice committee was doing – a Sister Parish in Haiti. He asked anyone who was interested in going on the next trip to contact him. I remember thinking “that would be an interesting one-time adventure” …… Reflecting on that time now, 20 years later, I understand better that God was inviting me to step out and join his community of disciples in a more committed way. The Haitians have a saying – Ou oblije mache pou w wè kote kwen lari a ye, Translation: You have to walk to see where is the corner of the street, Meaning: You must dare to venture to see what life can bring you.
One of the disciples God put in my path is a Haitian named Wener. I met him while visiting our sister parish in 2012. That year presented many challenges and our team had split up to make the most of our visit. For part of that trip a couple of our team members were not feeling well and we were staying in the small village of Bassin Medor to convalesce. Wener stayed with us. He spent three days watching over us making sure we were safe, comfortable, well fed and trying to teach me French. I was a poor learner, he was a patient teacher.
We met up again during the 2013 mission trip the entire team was visiting Ducrabon. One of the things I was focused on was hiking to a waterfall I heard was nearby. On the way to the waterfall Wener saw that the hike was going to be more challenging than we knew. He offered to guide anyone who wanted back to the village to relax and await the return of the determined. As I hiked toward the waterfall, I began to have more and more respect for Wener’s concerns for us and how he modeled for others the strength of being a humble servant. The Haitians have a saying Sel pa vante tet li di li sale, Translation: Salt does not boast that it is salty, Meaning: Be humble. If you deserve praises, let others do it for you.
Each year I would keep in touch with Wener learning more about his family and his life. He has four kids now. By profession he is a language teacher, French, English and Spanish. And like most teachers he is a role model for his students. His Faith is strong and he often speaks of trusting that God will provide. Many times I have considered his Faith stronger than mine given the situations he has faced.
After the covid came, the schools in the city were shut down and Wener had no job. His approach to this problem stems from the Haitian saying: Se tè ki bat ki bwe lapli, Translation: It’s the clay that drinks the rain, Meaning: We must prepare ourselves for the opportunities. Wener presented a plan to open a business selling clothes at the street marketplace. Since doing that he has been able to keep his family fed, keep his kids in school when it is open and provide a place to live for his family. His dedication to his family, his parish and his community is inspiring.
Your contributions to our Lenten Alms for Haiti sustain the chapel schools in Notre Dame de Lourdes where disciples like Wener are formed and sent forth.
Your donation of $150 or whatever you can offer helps give the children of Notre Dame de Lourdes a future. I leave you with one more Haitian saying – Sa nou bay pòv se Bondye nou prete l, Translation: What we give to the poor, we lend to God.
Please Give Generously To Our 2022 Haiti Lenten Fundraiser
Renmen Bondye, Sèvi Lòt Moun, Fòm Disip
Love God, Serve Others, Form Disciples.