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On unexpected blessings from a gift of cashews
--  14 April  2007

Dear everyone---this is a newsletter . . .

Dear Karen,
I just wanted to write to say I am sorry for making fun of your mini-Christmas gift exchange this year. I ended up with a can of Planters peanuts, and a can of Planters cashews. I think I shared the peanuts with the kids in Arizona, but I brought the cashews to Haiti. I was going to take the can to Gaspard when Larry and Larry visited. But they had two suitcases full of snacks and Granola bars (I think their wives were afraid there would be nothing to eat), so the cashews stayed in Port-de-Paix.

When I was making plans to go to Bombard for Palm Sunday and Holy Week, I decided to take the cashews for the sisters. But getting there was a problem, because: 1) The Land Rover had a serious clutch problem, and Pere Cholet could not come from Bombard to PdP to pick me up; 2) the river was flooded, and no vehicles were crossing--only kanotes (small rowboats that are guided across the river by 4 men).

It was Providencial that I ran into Pere Roman from Baie de Henne at Fonkoze on Friday (before Palm Sunday) about noon. He had come to PdP to buy provisions for Easter. Because he could not cross the river, he had to leave his truck on the other side---and he did not want to leave it there overnight. So at 5PM, we left downtown PdP in 2 borrowed trucks--full of people and supplies. We arrived at the river about 5:15.


I cannot even begin to describe to you what it is like to try to cross a flooded river in Haiti at rush hour with 8 people and provisions for 3 weeks. The first problem was negotiating a price for the boat. Pere Roman, who is from the Czech Republic, and I decided that I should stay in the truck so that the price would only increase 2 times, not 4, if they boat man saw 2 blancs.

People everywhere, animals everywhere, shouting, mud, more shouting--but we made it to the other side. Arrived in Bombard about 10 PM.

Palm Sunday was very nice--with a procession from the police station to St. Francis. Then in the afternoon, Pere Cholet and Pere Roman switched parishes---to preach a three day Holy Week retreat in the other's church (Sunday thru Tuesday nights). Pere Cholet had retrieved the Land Rover from TiRivye on Saturday, but the clutch problem was getting worse. So on Sunday, he sent a neighbor to TiRivye to bring back the Toyota pick-up of TiRivye. When the neighbor arrived, he gave the cook the keys and went home--saying nothing about the serious clutch problem in the Toyota.

Pere Cholet had asked me to drive for him for two events during Holy Week: 1) to pick up the Christian brother postulants who would be coming on Tuesday morning ( to the nearby townof Mare Rouge) for a Mission during Holy Week in Bombard; and 2) to drive him to PdPaix on Wed. for the Thursday morning Chrismal Mass, and then back to Bombard before the Holy Thursday Night Mass.

At 9 AM on Tuesday morning, we got into the Toyota and discovered we would be going nowhere in that vehicle. After much discussion, it was decided to try to find Angelo, a local driver/mechanic, to see what he thought. Fortunately, Angelo was not on a run to PAPrince, and we met him on the road not far from the church. After another long discussion, the consensus was that we should take the limping Land Rover to pick up the postulants, and Angelo would drive, I would accompany him...along with Pere Cholet's cousin, and Madame Robert ( who needed to buy some material for some bandanas for the upcoming ordinations). Anticipating a long day, I packed a few snacks.

At 11 AM, off we went. The trip to Mare Rouge usually takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes. The first part of the trip is downhill--no problem. The second half is up-hill. Big problem. We would drive for 15 minutes, then sit for 30 minutes while the engine cooled. At noon, I brought out the can of cashews. The 4 of us took a handful, and decided to save the rest for later.

About 1:30, we arrived in Mare Rouge. We picked up the postulants, who had been waiting patiently for 2 hours, and at about 3:00, we began the return trip. Again, downhill was no problem. But the drive back UP to Bombard is very steep. The Land Rover had NO power. Everyone got out and started to walk. Angelo turned the vehicle around and began to go in reverse up the mountain. He would drive for 5 minutes, and let the engine cool for 30 minutes. I decided it would be better to accompany him, than to worry about where he was, So I got back into the vehicle. About 5 PM, I brought out the cashews again---for supper.

It is rather beautiful to view the sun setting over the ocean in Mole St. Nicolas as you go backwards up the road.

At 7 PM, we reached Angelo's house at the edge of Bombard. After a last handful of cashews, he sent me on my way for the last 2 miles. After about 1 mile, I met up with the postulants, Madame Robert, and the cousin near the Digicel antenna in Bombard. Everyone got into the vehicle, and it was then that the clutch went out completely. Everyone got out again, and pushed the Land Rover (while I steered) that last mile to the church. At 7:30 we arrived--just as Pere Roman was finishing the Tuesday night mission and everyone was singing.

At 9PM, Pere Roman left to return to Baie on a moto-taxi; he met up with Pere Cholet who was returning from Baie in Pere Roman's truck. At 11 PM, Pere Cholet arrived back in Bombard on the same moto-taxi.

Angelo came over the next morning (Wednesday) to begin to try to repair both vehicles...both with the same clutch problem. We finished what was left of the cashews about 11 AM. In the afternoon, Angelo headed off to PAPrince to look for parts.

Of course, we were not able to go to PdPaix on Wednesday for the Mass on Thursday morning. Instead, we visited the sick to take them communion and prepared, tranquilly, for the Easter Triduum.

So, Karen, I just wanted to let you know "the rest of the story" about the cashews. Thanks for the great gift...Angelo says thanks, too.