I’ve been home from Haiti for one week; however, it has taken me the entire week to process, ponder and reflect. Today as my Pastor started a new series, The Blessed Life, I knew I was finally ready to begin sharing my week in Haiti.
This blog will be about our first full day in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, which happened to be Sunday, February 19th. We were up bright and early in order to attend Sunday morning services at the church our translator attends. We arrived there around 8:30 but the congregation had arrived earlier for small groups. The church was packed but they had reserved a space for us on the front row. The church building made out of blocks – if I remember correctly, the roof was made out of metal. There’s no air conditioning – only ceiling fans and some standing floor fans. The Sunday we were there was the Sunday that the young people led the service from the singing to the speaking. Beautiful voices filled the air as the Haitians worshiped God. And although it was in French and I really couldn’t understand anything that was being said or sung, I could feel the joy, gratitude and love being expressed in their songs and words. Their faith, their hope and their trust in God was very visible and evident in the way they sang and worshiped.
I noticed the joy on every face and I took note of how the people were dressed in their finest Sunday clothes….which don’t even get me started on how we Americans like to approach our church going in all of our casual, laidback attitudes and casual clothes as if we were spending a day working in our yards. The colors of clothing were vibrant on the ladies and the men were wearing their suits and ties or slacks, dress shirts and ties. It was very evident that going to church is very important to them and dressing for the occasion of being in God’s House is something that take as utmost importance.
After the service, our team served them sandwiches, chips and a drink. I wish that I could have spent more time getting to know each of them but a quick “bonjour” and a heartfelt smile was all I had time to do.
We went back to the orphanage to change clothes and then head out of town to a remote village. It was about 45 minutes out of the city;as we turned off the main road and drove on a dirt road for what seemed like miles and miles, we all questioned how in the world did they ever find this village to begin with!!! Nate and Jeff wanted to go back and check on a little toddler. When Nate and Jeff were there in December, this little guy had fallen into a fire and was burned very badly. Based on the severity of his burns, the toddler only had about a 10% chance of surviving. Nate and Jeff did what they could and then they prayed for him. Consequently, they wanted to go back and see how he was. Well, the power of prayer was very evident because the little guy was well, walking, and the scars were so minimal…one would never be able to tell that he had been burned so severely in a fire.
Walking through the village where most of the houses were just little one-room shacks made out of mud with a straw roof, I was made aware of all the little things I take for granted on a daily basis. When you go to one of these villages, your hand is very quickly taken by a child as you are walking. All of a sudden there will be kids everywhere and they want to say “bonjour” and hold your hands. Smiles are big and they are curious to see why the “Blancs” are there (french word for “white” and that’s what they call us!). We had not had time to pre-make the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; however, about 8 of us got in the van and had makeshift assembly line where we used machetes and pocket knives to cut the bread and then spread the pb and jelly with spoons, pocket knives and whatever else we could find that would serve a purpose. We don’t have an exact count but I know we made at least 200 sandwiches. We gave those out along with chips and a drink and some candy. Lots of smiles because everyone loves a good ol’ pb&j!!!
We got back to Bon Sam (the orphanage where we stayed) tired but happy – we enjoyed some Haitian spaghetti on the rooftop and then came the best part of the day….we would sit in a circle and go around and share what was our high for the day and what stood out in our minds. Fabulous moments spent with people who have become friends.
I climbed into my top bunk bed and shrouded myself in my mosquito netting and fell asleep listening to the dogs barking…roosters crowing (yes, they were a little confused as to when exactly they are supposed to crow!)….sounds of Carnival… Hoping and praying that no spiders or any other kind of creepy crawly animal/bug would wander in via the window right beside me. However, I had the best view – as I looked out the window right beside me, I could see the stars and then in the morning I could look out the window across the room from me and see the sunrise happening with the mountains in the distance.
Today, in my Pastor’s message, this is what made me think of Haiti and the beautiful Haitian people:
“And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in such generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-3)
I saw time and time again during my week there that even in their poverty they have overflowing joy and such generosity. I watched the kids at the orphanage over and over again receive something and then very quickly share what they had been given with their friends. They wanted to share what they had with us. But what stands out to me the most is their overflowing joy. I am purposing in my own life to be joyful…to have overflowing joy and to give freely from my heart.