Sunday, June 30th, 2013

Today we went to church.  We left Kaliko at 8:15 this morning to make the forty-five minute drive to Mission of Hope for church.  The drives takes us straight down Route Nationale #1 (one of the main highways in Haiti) and through the towns of Archaie, Cabaret and Bercy.  On any other day of the week we would have had to avoid crowds of people travelling along the roads, merchant stands set up right at the edges of the streets, and colorful tap-taps zooming in and out of traffic, picking up and dropping off passengers.  But today being Sunday, the roads were a lot quieter which made for a fairly peaceful, horn-free drive.  We arrived at Mission of Hope’s main campus a little after nine and went ahead and sat down in the church building.  The church is shaped like a ‘T’ with a slightly slanted top, comfortably seating about three hundred people per section.  The building is open-air with half walls on the bottom, metal work on the top, and a simple metal roof.  The church steadily filled with both Haitians and Americans (many of whom were staying at Mission of Hope, but some who were staying outside, including another group staying at Kaliko) as the 9:30 service grew nearer.  Music started playing and the guessing game as to what was going on began.  The welcome was conducted mainly in Creole, though there were a few interspersed English phrases.  Soon the band took the stage and worship – real, pure worship – started.  The beginning chords of the first song rang familiar in our ears, and the Creole lyrics to “Our God” were projected onto the wall at the front of the church.  We began to sing along in English and about halfway through the lyrics on the wall shifted from Creole to English.  This same pattern of alternating English and Creole verses was repeated for the rest of the music, which included “Break Every Chain” and “Your Love Endures Forever” among other songs.  The church was full and the ratio of Americans to Haitians was such that there was not a visible division between groups and not a clear majority.  Which brings me back to the idea of real, pure worship; worship that brings to mind the picture of what perfect worship in heaven will look like.  Romans 7:9-10 says, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”  This morning we experienced the passionate and participatory worship of peoples old and young, black and white sending the same praises up to the same Lord in different languages.  It’s impossible to describe how beautiful and incredible and heart stirring it was to hear the sounds of English and Creole singing together with abandon to one God of all nations and all tongues. There is absolutely nothing like worshipping with brothers and sisters in Christ in another language; it provides a small glimpse into what waits for us in heaven where we will worship together for all of eternity.  Imagine the kind of worship we experienced today multiplied by infinity – every tongue, not just Creole and English, from every nation, not just Haiti and America.  That’s big.

We returned to Kaliko for our second to last lunch of club sandwiches, burgers, and ever-popular chicken nuggets, and then went back to Pastor’s for our last day at the orphanage.  Tomorrow we are having a birthday party for the kids at Kaliko, so only a few people will return to the orphanage, and only for a short time.  We really only had one project left to do, and that was completing the gate.  Metal sheets were welded to the frame, and Maggie McGrath and Claire Swindell were finally able to begin painting the logo for the orphanage on the yellow doors of the gate.  The logo is made up of small blue hand print resting in a larger hand, which is actually based on a picture taken on a previous trip.  The orphanage is called ‘Oedwa’ which stands for Orphelinant des Enfants Demunis de Williamson Archahaie, and the name is painted to the left of the hands.

This is the first student trip that we have not been pushing until the last minute to complete projects, so we got to spend a large majority of the afternoon just playing with the kids.  It’s so neat to see everyone having an opportunity to enjoy the relationships that have been built this week without the beckoning of a bucket line or the call for concrete.  Perhaps the best part of the afternoon, however, was when we were given another opportunity to go out in the village and pray over families.  We split up into four groups with our translators and set off down different sides of the street, stopping at every house we walked by.  It was eye-opening to hear the prayer requests that seemed to be constant throughout the village: provision, healing, security, confidence, help following Christ.  Every request came with a story, which reminded us that there is still such great need in the village of Williamson and such a wide open door for ministry beyond the walls of the orphanage.  Some team members were moved to get to pray with people they prayed with last December, noting the differences in demeanor and health and need.  One surprising moment that came for one group was when the village witch doctor allowed them to pray over her.  Voodoo is very popular in Haiti, and there is a female witch doctor in Williamson that lives about five houses down from Pastor’s orphanage.  She has been very stand-offish in trips past, but today we were able to walk right up to her front porch and ask her what she needed prayer for.  She requested that we pray for growth in her Christian life and that God show her things in unexpected ways.  Again, that’s big.  As we sang last night and again this morning in church, there really is power in the name of Jesus.

As our trip is coming close to its end, team members are beginning to reflect on everything they’ve felt and heard and touched and smelled and seen.  Change happens in Haiti.  Hearts are broken, passions are renewed, purposes are discovered, new emotions are felt, hard questions are asked and challenges are issued.  And sometimes the hardest part is returning home to the place we left with our old experiences and come back with our new experiences.  It’s hard to assimilate the two worlds.  Not only is it hard to adjust back to daily life, but it’s also hard to adjust to the challenges we’ve issued ourselves here.  Tonight Randy Pierson talked about “crossing the street” in devotional time.  He cited the story of the good Samaritan and noted that the first step of compassion involves moving – crossing the street.  We are doing that here, literally and figuratively.  The opportunity to cross the street is readily available here and readily crossed.  But what about at home? The opportunity is there, but how often do we cross the street and extend compassion to a neighbor, whether they’re easy to love or not? That’s hard.  And that will be just one of the many challenges we face when we get back.  Bringing back what we learned and felt here and applying it to our home lives.

Tomorrow will most likely be everyone’s favorite day of the trip when we have a birthday party at Kaliko for all the kids.  Pray for our team as we prepare to come home and prepare to say our goodbyes to all our family here in Haiti.