ac·com·pa·ni·ment

Accompaniment is about more than sharing the road. Accompaniment is about sharing our lives, our gifts and hardships toward a more complete life together.

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accompaniment“You keep using that word,” goes the brilliant quote from Inigo Montoyo in the film, “The Princess Bride.”

” I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

And no, I have not been saying “inconceivable” at every turn. The word that keeps coming to my mind and entering into my conversations is “accompaniment.”

I’m new at this missionary business. Feeling called and doing the work of the called are worlds apart. Just like everything I’ve learned about my life and this new, astounding, baffling, magnetically attractive culture in which I’m living.

I’m here to be with you, my brothers and sisters. And when I am fortunate enough to host groups of short-term missioners visiting rural Haiti, I hear myself preaching “accompaniment.”

We are here to be with, not to do for. We come to walk alongside our friends here. We come to share our lives and our stories and find common ground.

A recent trip took us (seven people from the Presbytery of the James, two drivers, a translator and me) far into the mountains where we met with some of those friends. We had many excellent, deep conversations, both among ourselves, (we foreigners) and with the leaders and members of the farmer organizations we spent time with.

We talked about healthy giving. We talked about ways to help without hurting. We talked about these books we’ve all read, like Toxic Charity and When Helping Hurts.

We talked about finding ways to accompany the people here in Haiti.

I used that words so much I finally looked up the definition. You know, just in case I was WAY off the mark. The first definition concerns a musical accompaniment, as in adding the piano to the vocal parts. The second had to do with complementary additions — as in cooking.

Then, I found this. And I’m sticking with it. Because, dear Inigo, I think we’re onto something. Check out definition No. 3.

ac·com·pa·ni·ment

(ə-kŭm′pə-nē-mənt, ə-kŭmp′nē-)

n.

  1. MusicA vocal or instrumental part that supports another, often solo, part.
  2. Something, such as a situation, that accompanies something else; a concomitant.
  3. Something added for embellishment, completeness, or symmetry; complement.

Yes! It is about completeness.

I live and work in Haiti not to be the sole helper. I am here to be completed.

And, if you should come to be with, you will be on that path as well.

Because God is in this mix, as always. He is here for the journey, for the discussions, for the hard questions. And He is here when we visitors exchange funny looks with our hosts because we often don’t understand one another.

And only God will complete any of us.

The most excellent, conceivable part is that he puts us in touch with one another toward that end.

Today is Ash Wednesday. The beginning of Lent. And this day I begin to practice mindfulness. Part of that is examining the words I use, especially in nurturing beautiful relationships with my family and friends across a great sea and beyond a great cultural divide.

Look here for more of this journey.

Blessings abound.

Author: Cindy Corell

My journey began some time ago, through growing up in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, through a 28-year-career as a newspaper reporter and editor and through my faith experiences. Now my journey takes me to Haiti where I work as a companionship facilitator with Joining Hands, a program through Presbyterian Church (USA). I work with Haitian farmer groups who strive to empower, strengthen and accompany farmers on their way to feeding their nation again. I am blessed beyond measure with a wonderfully supportive family, a host of close friends and an opportunity to work in Haiti.

8 thoughts on “ac·com·pa·ni·ment”

  1. beautiful! thinking of my ashes and your ashes and God’s grace that connects all of us, in Haiti and Fort Worth. Blessings this Lenten season – we are accompanied!

  2. Cindy, would you be willing to share where you are in Haiti? For many years I’ve been involved with a development project there called CODEP (Comprehensive Development Project) and have traveled with many folks from the Presbytery of the James. I’m wondering if you are writing about the same place.

    1. Hi Lawson. Thanks for reading! No, though I am acquainted with the good work of CODEP, my work is as a companionship facilitator with a network of grassroots Haitian farmer organizations. The organizations are located all over Haiti, so I work with them both here in Port-au-Prince and also in the countryside where they are. Thanks again for reading, and please let me know of other questions. Feel free to email me at cindy.corell@pcusa.org.

  3. Thanks, Cindy, that was a great article. I appreciated your succinct way of putting things. I’m a Mission Coworker in Prague, Czech Republic and we do a lot of accompaniment, we just don’t call it that. Hope you don’t mind if I share some of your thoughts. Thanks.

    1. Hello, Karen! Thanks for your note. It is a pleasure to meet you. I hope your work is going well. Blessings to you and all those you accompany. And, yes, I would be honored if you shared any of this. I was speaking with one of our Haitian friends yesterday, and he used the word, but in Creole. Akonpayman. I wanted to hug him when I heard the word!

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