On a lovely spring evening, April 15, 2012, the Atlanta La Gonave Haiti Partnership gathered 200 of its closest friends to celebrate a friendship that began 20 years ago. The Atlanta Presbytery entered into a relationship with the people of La Gonave in 1992 and on this evening it was easy to see how rewarding it has been to both parties.

Pere Soner Alexander, the Episcopal Priest who leads the parish of La Gonave touched everyone when he summed up the importance of our connections.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored this evening, and we are all joyful to celebrate the commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the Partnership.  If I had to speak of all of the wonderful deeds and experiences that we have undertaken throughout the years, it would take me an entire evening!

But I come simply to speak of a partnership that has contributed to the transformation of the lives of an entire community throughout its history. For what neither governmental nor non-governmental agencies have been able bring about with their millions of dollars, our partnership has done with good will.

This evening, I do not want to be a celebrity; I would like to put you at the table of honor in order to pay a well-deserved tribute to you on behalf of my people whom you have always considered your brothers and sisters.  For all of your sacrifices given, your energy expended, and your love expressed, I extend  my most heart-felt gratitude.  Know that a good deed is never lost; it always returns in another way.

After these past twenty years, we can now say that the Partnership has helped to repair generations through education, health care, and the promotion of socio-economic programs.

I would like to draw your attention to the priority of the moment, which is to develop a true and sustainable strategic plan. To do so, we believe that education is the longest yet the most sure path. I do not want to die without seeing this Partnership found a professional school able to train thousands of our young people upon the completion of their traditional education.

Yet our ultimate preoccupation as a church is the individual man or woman in their humility as in their grandeur, their faith as in their unbelief, and their past as in their future. For we welcome them as in the arms of the Lord.

As we read in the Psalms,

He executes justice for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free; the Lord gives sight to the blind; He lifts up those who are bowed down.  (Psalm 146: 7,8)

Finally, I come to thank you on behalf of the thousands of adults, youth and children who are preserved in their body, mind and soul by your generosity. Our aim is to unite speech with love, to marry faith with reason. For, what we must seek in our actions is above all the blessing of God; honor and esteem are secondary. If each one of us alone can take a small step, imagine what we can do together!

Thank you.

It was a warm and touching address and falls short only in the way that it fails to address all the joy, growth and friendship that has been given to the people of the Atlanta Presbytery by the people of La Gonave. They are our brothers and sisters, and more importantly, they are our friends. As anyone knows who engages in this kind of relationship, one can never give enough to repay what is received. We are richer for being in relationship with La Gonave and look forward to 20 more years!



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