Miracles Beyond Miracles
relationship with a French bakery in Port-au-Prince, and the head baker has offered to help us. And we just got an offer from a French bakery in Boston, with whom we hope to partner,” he says. “They are willing to have their top guy come and apprentice our boys, and also to have them at the bakery in Boston.”
At the beginning, New Life Bakery will start with basics—fresh, nutritious bread to eat and to sell. “We’ll do the best work we can with what we have,” Geilenfeld adds. “We want to be the best bakery we can be.” Bates first visited Haiti with Jacob Golden T’74, D’78, a chaplain at Trinity School in Charlotte, N.C., who introduced her to the St. Joseph Family’s three homes for displaced children.
She was immediately intrigued. “Haiti is a country of great contrast; there are scenes of incredible beauty in the rural and mountain sections, but in the cities, there’s grueling poverty.”
As she experienced those contrasts during her first visit, Bates came home each evening “to an incredibly warm and inviting guesthouse.” Her hosts fed her delicious food and introduced her to local art, music, and dance.
“The St. Joseph Family believes in the role of the arts in helping us embrace the beauty of life and God’s goodness in each of us,” she says. “And no one is more hospitable and welcoming. That’s especially impressive, given the extreme circumstances under which they live their lives—usually on less than $2 a day, and with 80 percent unemployment.”
When Bates takes Duke Divinity students to visit the St. Joseph Family, she says, “We go to explore Mother Teresa’s notion that Christ is present to us in the faces of the poor and suffering. Rather than build schools and repair roofs, we build relationships. We play with and tutor children with handicaps, and visit patients dying of TB and AIDS at hospices and hospitals. The ‘treatment’ we offer is the comfort of our presence and our prayers.”
After years of visiting Haiti—“Haiti chose me,” she insists—Bates taught herself Kreyol, which is similar to French and widely spoken in Haiti. Though she was unable to take her usual group of students to Haiti over spring break, she hopes to travel there to reconnect with her friends this summer, and will plan a student trip for spring break 2011.
“I want to lay hands on a loaf of bread baked in Nouvo Vi and celebrate the Lord’s Supper,” she says. “It will give me great joy.”
Debbie Selinsky is a freelance writer who lives in Durham. She previously wrote about the St. Joseph Home for Boys in the Fall 2008 edition of Divinity.
Resurrection Dance Theatre of Haiti Performance:
“Resurrection from the Rubble”
The Resurrection Dance Theatre of Haiti, an internationally recognized dance troupe of orphans, former street children, and former child slaves, will perform at Duke University at 4:00 p.m. on Sept. 19, 2010 to help raise awareness and money for rebuilding in that country. The performers are affiliated with the St. Joseph Family, which was formed under the leadership of Michael Geilenfeld 25 years ago to bring street children into a Christian family setting. Two of the family’s three homes were destroyed in the January earthquake. The performance will be in Reynolds Theater in Duke’s Bryan Center. Tickets are $10 for general admission, and $5 for students and senior citizens. All proceeds will benefit the St. Joseph Family in Haiti. For details, contact Sally Bates, (919) 660-3459.