Haiti School Community Update 6/2020

IMG-20200601-WA0092.jpgIn Haiti, Mother’s Day is the last Sunday of May, so this year, it was last weekend on May 31st. Usually there is a big production at the Filles de Marie Reine Immaculèe school that the Chilmark Community Church sponsors in Lilavois, Haiti.  All the parents come to watch the kids put on performances that they have been practicing for weeks.

This year has been a very different year for everyone in the world, but it has been an especially challenging year for kids in Haiti.  Due to political unrest and threats of violence, schools were closed the first semester (Fall 2019) and though most opened by  the end of January, schools were again closed in March due to corona virus. By now, kids everywhere know how frustrating it is not to get to go to school and see friends and learn new things. The children in Haiti do not have free education.  Their families pay for them to go to school if they can afford the tuition, but if it is closed, there is no school online.  There is not reliable electricity, much less internet, and there are few families that can afford a phone or computer for the children to use for school. In addition to being home-bound by threats of a virus, people continue to be confined in their movements due to violence, gang activity, and political unrest.
The solar project installation was completed in October so the school campus has electricity when most of the country does not. The principal of the school, Sr. Cadet, has been able to keep the businesses open that sell clean drinking water and charge people’s electronics, using the solar energy, even as the school remains closed for classes due to Covid-19 for the rest of the year.

Mother’s Day was not the only event last weekend.  One of the children sponsored by the Chilmark Community Church was in her mother’s wedding on May 30th, along with two other girls that live on campus and attend the school when it is in session. (pictures attached)  Naverlie is in the green dress. Her mother, Charlene, was recently employed by the new water selling business on campus and they live near the campus in Lilavois.  The wedding reception was held in the auditorium where the Mother’s Day performance is usually presented, so the space got to host a celebration, even if it wasn’t the usual gathering..
April and May are usually rainy months in Haiti, but this year saw only a few days of rain during these months.  This isn’t good for the gardens and the farmers of the country. Hurricane season began on June 1st.  Haiti is one of the countries in the Caribbean that is very vulnerable to hurricanes. Hurricane Matthew devastated Haiti in October 2016. Recovery from natural disasters is a rough road, and has always been particularly difficult in Haiti.  The poor country was shaken in a massive earthquake in January 2010. Systemic corruption and poverty compound the problems of recovery from natural disasters and weathering the climate challenges in the region.
Covid-19 has not passed over Haiti.  Due to a lack of virus testing supplies and capabilities, misinformation, and distrust, it is hard to know how widespread the virus is in Haiti. In the past 2 months, the official cases rose from around 50 to over 2,500 and at least 50 people have died. Hospitals are not always open, affordable, or trusted. Face masks are hard to come by, but the artisan groups that I know in Haiti have all made masks for their communities and are chipping in to help whenever they can.
We are so lucky to live on Martha’s Vineyard and have the ability to go outside and to shop with other people in the community respecting the new social distancing norms. There is little choice about whether to go out of the house in Haiti. In a country as poor as Haiti, you take a risk if you go out to work or shop that you will contract the virus and you take a risk that you could die from the virus if you get it; but if you stay home without money, food, or water, you will surely die.




May 27,2020 MV Times letter to editor..Arlene Bodge


The very day I am starting to write this little note, my wife and I were scheduled to fly to the States, ride the bus to Woods Hole, and hopefully catch the last ferry for our yearly six-week visit to the Vineyard. Somehow, this fact has brought us to reminisce about the many experiences there, over 40 years’ worth in my case, a lifetime’s in hers. One has stayed on our minds as particularly meaningful, and as one that paradigmatically defines for us the people of Chilmark. Over the years we have come to appreciate how kind and caring the local society is, and, as a remarkable feature, how lovingly they take care of their elders.

In 1947 my wife’s grandparents bought a property in Chilmark. It included a “quaint little house” (as it is identified in “Martha’s Vineyard — A Short History,” edited by Eleanor Ransom Mayhew) that, to my city-boy’s amazement, had been moved twice before being “deposited” in its beautiful present location, on a little grassy knoll within earshot of Fulling Mill Brook. By the early ’80s, my parents-in-law had taken up full-time residence there. My wife and I, with our two young children, would strive to visit them once a year, usually in December.

Both our daughter and our son had grown particularly fond of spending the Christmas season on the Island. Grandparents’ doting, carols, a beautifully decorated fir tree with tons of colorfully wrapped toys left by Santa under it, and more often than not, snow on which to sled, build snowmen, and have snowball fights were just some of the highlights that did not exist back home, at least not with the same intensity.

My mother, a recent widow, then in her early 80s, had come along with our family of four for the 1990 visit, and was also staying with my in-laws. She spoke no English, but was having a grand time with her extended family. It was not her first visit, and she had already grown very fond of the Island.

In the wee hours of one morning, we heard her talking incoherently in her bed. She was very agitated, and could not generate any meaningful sounds. We immediately called the emergency number, from a rotary-dial phone that is still being used in the house today. In retrospect, it seems that the ambulance arrived even before we hung up the phone. Some of our acquaintances were among the crew, but there was no time for platitudes. They quickly reached the correct diagnosis (diabetic coma), and immediately took the appropriate steps. They saved her life.

She was taken to the M.V. Hospital, where she was in critical condition.

So far this story, while remarkable, is not terribly unusual. EMT volunteers routinely save a lot of lives. What happened next is what lingers in my memory as characteristic and defining of Chilmarkers. The following Sunday, at the proposal of one of the volunteers who had come to the house as part of the ambulance crew, the congregation of the Chilmark Community Church offered a prayer for her recovery, for someone they hardly knew. The following day, Arlene Bodge, Chilmark’s pastor at that time, and some members of her congregation went to the hospital to visit my mother, brought her flowers, and spent quite a while chatting with her — who knows in what language. Also, starting the very same day she was taken to the hospital, several friends, and some other people that we hardly knew, kept coming by the house and calling by telephone, offering to help in any way they could.

For many years, my mother kept coming back to Chilmark with us, and she enjoyed every minute of it.

My mother lived to be 100, and, in spite of some of the usual short-term memory problems of advanced age, she remembered this little story all her life. I still do.


David Vives
Spain (and Chilmark)

June meditation from DS Foster


Hello RISEM Clergy & Laity,
The following devotions are taken from the book, The One Year Praying the Promises of God by Cherri Fuller and Jennifer Kennedy Dean. I pray these devotions will increase your hunger for God’s Word.
JUNE 2020

Pure Promises

The LORD’S promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over. Psalm 12: 6 The psalmist paints a picture of silver purified beyond ordinary standards. He describes a process that will produce 100 percent pure silver. Every bit of impurity or residue gone. God’s promises are unmixed with any untruth. They’ve been put through the fire. David wrote, “Your promises have been thoroughly tested; that is why I love them so much” (Psalm 119: 140). God doesn’t want his promises to be theoretical; he invites us to put them to the test so we will know for ourselves how trustworthy they are.

When Scripture tells us how to know God, it uses “sense” words: How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey. (Psalm 119: 103) I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand. (Ephesians 1: 18) The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears. (Isaiah 50: 5, NIV) Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. (2 Corinthians 2: 15) Consider this: How would you describe the taste of a strawberry to someone who has never tasted one? You couldn’t. Things that we know through our senses we have to learn firsthand.

So, it is with knowing God. You can know him only by firsthand experience and the certainty of his promises. They have to be tested in your fire. But you cannot trust promises on their own merit. A promise is only as reliable as the person who makes it. If you don’t know the promiser, you have no way of knowing whether or not to rely on the promise. You must trust the Promiser.

Faithful Father, the more I know you, the more faith comes naturally to me. Trust is no longer a generic idea but is becoming instead a deliberate act as I learn to trust in you. Show yourself to me in the comings and goings of my life, teaching me that who you are ensures what you will do. The promises of the Bible are nothing more than God’s covenant to be faithful to His people. It is His character that makes these promises valid.  JERRY BRIDGES (1929–), American author and conference speaker.



Rev. Dr. Andrew L. Foster III

D.S.Foster’s Mothers Day Prayer

A Mother’s Day Prayer…

“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3 (NLT)

“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; Before you were born, I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5 (N KJV)

Gracious God,

As this new day unfolds, I want to pause and thank you for all the mothers of this world; the memories of our mothers, the faithful mothers of the present, and the mothers of the future. I pray that you remind mothers who have given birth and those who have raised children they did not birth that you are always with them.

During these challenging times of physical distancing and uncertainty, let us not forget the many scarifies our mothers have made over the years. Let our mothers persevere and not give up because their current situation seems bleak. Grant the mothers of the world the courage and strength to keep on climbing as encouraged in this poem by Langston Hughes,

Mother to Son

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

Thank you, God, for our mothers; thank you for their strength of character and their love for you. Bless them with long life and satisfy them with the desires of their hearts and they diligently seek after you.

May the Lord bless our Mothers and keep them;
The Lord make His face shine upon our Mothers,
And be gracious to them; May the Lord lift up His countenance upon all Mothers,
And give them peace. (Adapted from Numbers 6:24-26)

A Blessed Happy Mother’s Day!!!




When our onsite operations closed in mid-March, Rolling Ridge quickly launched online programming to provide spiritual resources to support our community during these unprecedented times. Our weekly “Take Your Time Tuesday” videos have been part of this gift, along with numerous online retreats to keep you centered in your faith and to remind you that you are not alone.

This week, Rolling Ridge Executive Director, Lawrence Jay, offers us a “Letting Go” breathing exercise to encourage us to live with open hands and not clenched fists during this time. While it is easy to live in fear during this global pandemic, we who believe in the gracious love of God are called to live in faith, to serve and to give.

Rolling Ridge Tuesday Meditation


The daffodils have begun to bloom at Rolling Ridge.  Spring has sprung.  And while the sounds of birds now fill the air, the house and grounds are quiet as we like everyone else wait for the good news that the darkness of COVID-19 has passed and our doors can open again.  During these times of uncertainty and waiting, it can be hard to be present and thankful for what is as we long for what is yet to come.

In this week’s “Take Your Time Tuesday” video, John Kiemele offers us the spiritual practice of Embodied Gratefulness to help us live into the now and to celebrate the blessings of God in this present moment.  When we begin to feel gratitude through the fullness of our body, we wake up to the Divine Presence of God in and around us now.  We encourage you to slow down, click the link or the image below for the video, and take time for yourself to be centered in God and to be thankful.  May this practice become part of your daily spiritual routine so you do not grow weary and lose hope.

connects to a meditation on Embodied Gratefulness.