Lahr’s farewell Haiti tour


Connie Lahr, of Maple Lake, is no stranger to Haiti, having lived there for nearly four years and visiting several times over the past 28 years.
She recently returned, for what may be her last time, to promote urban gardens.
Joining her from St. Timothy’s Parish were first-timer Donna Rothstein, of Clearwater, and Joe Becker, of Becker, who made his third visit to the area.
It didn’t take long for Rothstein to feel like she was meant to be there, as she reconnected with Fr. Michael Mitchell, of Regnum Christi.
“When she was at Regnum Christi this past September, the retreat master, Fr. Michael Mitchell, talked about his mission trips to Haiti,” Lahr said. “Little did she think it possible that she would see him in Haiti.”
Mitchell introduced Rothstein to a Regnum Christi Consecrated Woman named Paulia.
“Paulia invited me to join the young women on Friday afternoon at a 75-bed home for malnourished children with the Missionaries of Charity,” Rothstein said. “I will treasure in my heart always the precious little one I fed, another precious one I applied ointment to and changed two cloth diapers for and the toddlers I played with in the playground and folded colorful paper with for simple crafts.”
Rothstein gained a new level of respect for the Missionaries of Charity through the experience.
“Now I know why the Missionaries of Charity pray for two to three hours before starting their very busy and full days,” Rothstein said.
She later introduced Paulia to Lahr, of Gardening World Wide, who made arrangements for Mission Youth to help build a family garden while visiting Haiti in March.
“God works in mysterious and wondrous ways, growing the faith community one family at a time,” Rothstein said.
Much of the trip consisted of visiting gardens that were previously established by Gardening World Wide and Rothstein witnessed the challenges Haitian gardeners face firsthand.
“First, a regular water supply is necessary, which during the dry seasons is challenging at best,” Rothstein said. “Second, fencing, to keep out goats and chickens, can be difficult to acquire, much less maintain. Thirdly, compost is necessary and continuously needed since the ground is rocky and hard.”
Rothstein commended the Haitians for being resourceful in the ways they recycled materials – such as the tents that were once their homes – for fencing.
Miradieu and Dula Estinvil, who consider themselves to be Connie and Pat Lahr’s children, surprised Lahr with a 28-year appreciation celebration.
More than 60 persons attended the event at the Messiah Agricultural Project, where vegetables are grown for market and to serve various schools and families in need.
In addition to visiting Miradieu and Dula Estinvil, the St. Timothy’s contingent also visited Wilky Estinvil and Frankel Marcelin.
“Frankel is growing vegetables at his church garden site just outside the city of Port-au-Prince and has motivated 10 neighbors to grow small gardens in just the past few months,” Lahr said.
At Wilky Estinvil’s two-room home, the group enjoyed beans, rice and chicken as they reflected on the time he has worked with the Lahrs.
“Wilky has been part of the project for more than 20 years and is a teacher to whom I send missionary newcomers in Haiti when they ask about urban gardening,” Lahr said.
More information appears in this week's Messenger.