mission work that this parish has undertaken in the past few years. Pere Kesner Ajax was our host for the trip. Pere Ajax directs the Partnership program for the Diocese of Haiti. He is also the Director of the Bishop Tharp Institute--a four year college focusing on business and technology--and the rector of Ascension Church in Beraud. The Bishop Tharp Institute (BTI) is located in Les Cayes, the third largest city in Haiti. Beraud is a small village about 30 minutes outside of Les Cayes. Icon in bottom left corner of slide slow turn on captionsIn July of this year, Fr. Stephen and a small group of St. Thomas' parishioners traveled to Haiti to explore the possibility of forming a relationship with the two Episcopal institutions there. This exploration was the next step in the
Haiti left many and diverse impressions imprinted on us while we were there. It is a beautiful place, with a lovely coastline and a tropical climate. It is at the same time in many places deforested as charcoal made from the trees is the only source of fuel for many. We were received with gracious hospitality by so many of those whom we encountered on our journey, and this was particularly striking given the pervasive poverty that we found wherever we went. We found a country that was profoundly under-developed, and yet the people we encountered were hard-working and ingenious. Pere Ajax, in particular, holds seven or eight positions within the diocese, and yet was more than generous with the time that he shared with us.
A description of our trip can be found here and our reflections (along with the reflections of those who traveled to the Dominican Republic and to Dungannon) can be found here. Coming away from the experience, I think all of us have a deep desire that our parish find a way to be in partnership with the Bishop Tharp Institute and Ascension Church in Beraud. (We were particular moved by the possibilities of supporting the 54 children who were enrolled in the elementary school run by Ascension Church.) We at the same time are mindful that we need to further discern what such a partnership would mean for us. We also feel that this partnership would be beneficial to the church only if a larger number of us could embrace it. We will find ways to share our experience with the parish in the coming weeks and months. We hope that a conversation about our engagement with the Episcopal Church in Haiti and in the Church's Mission would ensue from this sharing.