By Helen Morgus
St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Sun Valley, ID has a cherished partnership with the Haiti Micah Project and its leader, Father Joseph Constant. When the earthquake shook Haiti in 2010, we felt the shocks in Idaho. A “Haiti Relief Team” (HaRT) formed, with the mission to support HMP children through sponsorship. In October of 2013, we invited our friend Father Joseph to Idaho. We wanted to honor his work, hear the latest from Haiti, and give him a wider audience in our community.
The three-day visit was jam-packed. It began on Sunday, with Father Joseph preaching and celebrating Eucharist at St. Thomas. His musical Kreyol-accented English helped to hear with fresh ears the words that are so familiar to us. After the service, he presented an update on HMP’s activities and answered our questions about Haiti and its future.
On Monday, he spent a day at The Community School, a local private school. The 8th-12th graders had read Mountains Beyond Mountains over the summer, and were hungry for more knowledge of Haiti. Pere Constant addressed two assemblies, had lunch with a small group of high schoolers and taught Haitian Kreyol to students in three French classes. In the middle school, this even involved marching in a circle while reciting Kreyol questions and phrases!
In his “free time,” Father Joseph attended dinner parties with HMP sponsors; had a tour of Sun Valley; lectured at the local library; and enjoyed the hospitality of members of HaRT at breakfasts and lunches, and on the running trails.
Father Joseph’s presence inspired generous responses at every turn. At St. Thomas, parishioners asked HaRT about sponsoring more children. Community School students and teachers are planning to raise funds for HMP through a Haitian-inspired art show. One student is looking for an opportunity to do service in Haiti.
Father Joseph always returns to the hope that he has in the children: once their basic needs of food, clean water, education and emotional support are met, they can boldly face the challenges of life in Haiti. And he is quick to remind us that HMP happens by the work of Lespri Sen (the Holy Spirit).
Thank you, Joseph, for coming to us, for reminding us to keep hope for Haiti, and for bringing the Spirit with you.