Thursday, July 22, 2010

Trip to the Village III

Staccato rain hammers down on the tin roof, drowning out the words of the elders’ prayer. I strain to listen, but the noise is deafening and I can hardly catch a single word. A strong wind rushes through the wall-less worship center and I shiver. Power, God’s power. The force of His rain is incredible. I close my eyes tighter and bow my head. God is all powerful. The elders’ voice becomes louder and louder as he shouts to be heard over the thunderous noise, but I still can’t discern his words. Finally he stops and I open my eyes. A dog lying at my feet, stirs and looks up. I hear a baby crying nearby and then a mothers’ gentle “shush”.

Mothers, nursing babies, dogs. The worship center has no walls, thereby signifying it is open to all. Since most Haitians feel they need church clothes and church shoes to attend a “real” church, each Sunday Pastor Jean Jean holds a second informal service in the worship center to encourage people to come as they are. When I first attended an afternoon service there, about 30 people would come but now the crowd has grown to well over 200. Bare feet or runners, T-shirts instead of dress shirts and ties, jeans instead of black Sunday pants, simple work skirts instead of Sunday dresses, it really doesn’t matter. People still wear their best, but not everyone can afford Sunday clothes and Pastor Jean Jean wants them to know that although men may look on the outside, God looks on the heart, and their hearts are just so much more important.

Just as the sermon begins the rain dies down a little, so the words of Isaiah 6 can be clearly heard. With Jayden on my lap, I shift in the wooden bench for a more comfortable position and focus my attention on the reading of God’s Word.

Earlier that morning we had woken up to Haitian soup for breakfast, something none of us had ever had before, but always willing to try new and different things, I ate the unusual food.

Later, waiting outside for Kristie, Pastor Jean Jean’s wife, to pick us up for church, Jayden fed leaves to a goat tied to a nearby tree.

At 8:15 Kristie arrived in a pickup truck and we enjoyed a 20 minute bumpy but beautiful ride balancing in the back.

The first service we attended began at 8:50 and was held in an actual church building. Many people walked long distances from all over the area for the service, and the church was full. The service lasted 2 hours and was a special time of praying, preaching and singing.

After church we ate lunch at Pastor Jean Jean and Krisitie’s house. As soon as lunch was over it was time for the informal afternoon service in the worship center. That service was my favorite part of the day.

When the service was over Marin, Robert, Jason, a visiting Peruvian named Palousa, and some Haitian children went for a walk. I stayed at the house with Jayden, and was sure glad I did, when an hour later they all returned soaking wet.

Although it had been dry when they left, another rain storm drenched them as they walked back. Thankfully a team had brought clothing along to handout, and Marin, Robert and Jason were able to change into some dry clothes. After a simple meal of soup and bread for dinner, Pastor Jean Jean and Kristie drove us back to the hotel. The road was so muddy it felt more like we were driving over slushy snow and we kept fishtailing. “Turn off the lights, Jean Jean,” Jayden would whisper loudly in 5 minute intervals. Willingly Pastor Jean Jean would comply and without the vehicles lights we were surrounded by impenetrable black, darkness. “Ooh”, we would all say, and Jayden thought this was a great game.

Now, back at the hotel I try everything to get Jayden to go to sleep. Although it’s way past his bedtime he’s just too hyper. It must have been that chocolate milk energy drink that Kristie gave him with dinner, I muse, as I watch the bouncing boy. When Jayden kept begging for chocolate milk with his meal, Kristie remembered she still had some. It wasn’t till he was drinking it that I read the words “Energy drink.” Figuring for one time it was probably harmless, I let him finish it. That was a big mistake! Finally close to midnight he dozes off. Exhausted, I pull the sheet up to my nose to protect me from mosquitoes and minutes later I doze off as well.

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