First class of the new vocational center in Gressier. Credit: ELCH
Last February ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson visited Haiti and was escorted by the president of the Lutheran Church of Haiti, Pastor Joseph Livenson Lauvanus. As part of that trip Pastor Livenson walked Bishop Hanson up to an old building outside of Gressier, just west of Port-au-Prince. Pastor Livenson asked the bishop what he saw, to which he replied, “An old sugar factory.” Pastor Livenson replied that what he saw was:
A place of hope for my community. I see a community center where my brothers and sisters are learning.
It is that type of foresight that has turned this site of rubble into a place of restoration and hope. For today this same site is covered by people working, learning and laughing. Here, through donations to ELCA Disaster Response and other partners, the Lutheran church in Haiti is building a complex that includes a K-12 school, a vocational training school with 40 current students enrolled in their 18-month program, an office building, a guest house and if Pastor Livenson has anything to do with it (which he does) a convention center!
I was able to speak to Pastor Livenson this morning to get an update on the situation in Haiti on the second anniversary of the earthquake that struck the country exactly two years ago. He told me of the remembrance service they had this morning at the site with 8 members of Ben Larson’s family, an ELCA seminarian working in Haiti who was killed in the earthquake. He shared of how this remembrance was not just for honoring those who had been lost and the hard road he and his brothers and sisters have walked over the past two years, but to celebrate the blessing of support they have received from all quarters. This blessing of God as he called it has given hope to those who saw nothing but despair. He wanted to make sure that I shared this hope has done more than words can describe to help the church and people of Haiti as they continue to reject the concept of being a people in the rubble and embrace their identity as a people of resurrection, bringing new life out of destruction.
In closing he told me that he and the church in Haiti will continue to pray for us as he knows from just looking around him that we have been praying for them.