January 8, 2016,
Dear Friends and Family of the Diocese of Eau Claire,
This issue of Bishop’s Writings comes to you early because I am leaving today with other diocesan volunteers for Haiti. We will return to the United States on January 17. I am uncertain of the WiFi in Jeanette where our Mission group will serve St. Mark’s Church, School, and Health Facility. This is a long term mission called the Diocese of Milwaukee Haiti Project. It began in Eau Claire in the 1960’s and has had a continuous presence at St. Mark’s Jeanette ever since. Jeanette is in a rural, mountainous part of Haiti in the southwestern part of that country.
After the United States, Haiti was the second nation of the western hemisphere to win independence. Francois-Dominique Toussaint L’Ouverture was a former slave who led a successful revolt against French sugar planters. Later Napoleon sent an army to restore Haiti to French control. Napoleon had planned to use Haiti as a staging point for the establishment of a North American Empire. He secretly bought large sections of land from Spain to accomplish this dream.
In trying to conquer Haiti, Napoleon lost two-thirds of his army to warfare and disease. In defeat the nineteenth century dictator gave up his dreams of an American empire and in 1803 sold his land to the United States. This is known today as the Louisiana Purchase. It doubled the size of the United States and placed the entire Mississippi—Missouri River system under American control. New Orleans, St. Louis, and Minneapolis are part of the United States thanks to Haitians winning their independence.
Haiti today is the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. Sometimes God uses the very poor to help the rich. We Americans tend to think we have obtained everything on our own when in fact we are more inter-dependent than we wish to admit. Louisiana Purchase’s connection to Haiti is an example. With my love and best wishes, I am,
Your brother in Christ,