God is so good because today we celebrated the first anniversary of our feast day for our school Acadèmie Notre Dame à Madian! It was a really beautiful and special day and I was moved in ways I was not expecting, so I want to briefly share some of the beauty!
Feast days are a big deal in Haiti and when we started the school year I picked February 11th, Our Lady of Lourdes. Not going to lie, I initially picked this day largely because looking at the calendar a February feast day seemed ideal. But also, St. Bernadette is my confirmation saint AND I traveled to Lourdes in June 2015 and prayed for the intention of our school while I was there. The more I thought about it, the more perfect this day became for our little Notre Dame school.
As the feast drew near I was not looking forward to all of the work that needed to go into organizing it... informing and inviting families and guests, scheduling a priest, decorating the church, finding a choir to sing, making arrangements for the food, and preparing a mini concert for the children. Our classroom community right now is small in size due to two of our students being away in America while their new baby brother was born, and another student undergoing treatment in a hospital in Port Au Prince while my assistant stays there with her. It felt like a lot of work to do for just our little class of 6 students. I went through waves of wanting to cancel or reschedule but thanks to LOTS of help and encouragement we plowed ahead and I am so thankful we did.
This morning we had a beautiful mass in which Father Yves, the vicar of education in our diocese, came to celebrate for our community. I first met Father Yves when I came to Haiti in November 2015 to talk with him about opening a school. He is an incredible priest and has been a big support to us. He led the church in singing "Bondye renmen tout timoun yo" (God loves all of the children) and prayed a special blessing over all of the students.
I was surprised when it came time for the Gospel as it was not the reading I was expecting but instead was The Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11). I am little impressed with myself that I was able to understand the Gospel in Creole and most of the homily! I could not help but smile right away because this Gospel has continually come up in my prayer. I went to mass in New York last year and heard an incredible homily on this very Gospel. The basic premise of the homily was how the servants obeyed what Jesus told them to do, and as a result, the miracle happened. The homily itself wasn't revolutionary but the words from it stuck with me after the mass ended. The prerequisite to miracles and joy is doing whatever He tells you! The servants actions opened themselves up to the sovereignty of God, to his power and his kingship, and as a result the water was turned into wine. The priest said wine is the symbol of joy and because the servants were open to obeying what Jesus said, they became participants in the miracle, not just recipients. Talk about a beautiful message especially in light of all that the Lord has done with our little school in Haiti over the past year. At this time last year our school was still a cloudy prayer just starting to take shape. We kept praying and listening and trying our very best to be obedient, and because of that, the miracle and the joy followed.
Couple that homily from last year with what Father Yves shared today (and of what I understood in Creole). He urged us to do as Mary says and to "to do whatever he tells you." Father Yves too talked about the miracle both of our Lady of Lourdes, of the wedding at Cana, and of our little school opening here in Madian, Haiti. I pray that moving forward we may always do whatever it is that Jesus says, be obedient, and as a result be participants in the miracle and receive the joy! My heart was filled with joy as I was surrounded by my students in Haiti praying with the same message I had received and been impacted by one year prior.
After the mass ended, everyone was invited to the school for a little mini concert. The students sang two songs (except Sondy who got stage fright) and then invited their parents into the classroom to show them some of their favorite activities. We ended the celebration with a big and beautiful meal prepared by our awesome cooks. Tonight we are having a movie night at the school complete with a projector on the wall and popcorn for all. I love my little Haitian life :) Even in the stress of trying to figure out what all goes into a Haitian feast and get it organized in time, the Lord provided. He's so good at showing up.