Today we went to a Haitian church service. Many of the hymns were the same, so we were able to sing along. About 30 minutes before the service, the pastor asked Bobby (one of the ministers from our church who is the leader of this trip) to preach the sermon. Then, when he got up there and introduced Bobby, he also asked each of us to come up and speak. It was humbling to think that I had anything to say to these fellow believers — most of whom had been through much more than I have.
After lunch they drove us to a village where we were going to tell some stories from the Bible and talk to people about Jesus. Hundreds of years ago, Haiti was owned by the French. The plantation owners brought in African slaves and told them that they had to be Catholic. However, the forced baptisms and conversions of the time were not genuine (or desired). So, the African religion of VooDoo was hidden under Catholicism so the slaves could continue their own religion. I’m sure if someone tried to take away my faith, I’d do something like that to keep it as well. Over the years, the version of Jesus’s story that most Haitians have heard became a confused, combined, and corrupted thing mixed with Voodoo and old pagan practices. There’s many untruths that have to be picked out. So, it’s not enough to ask someone if they know about Jesus. So, we’ve been telling stories about Jesus that come straight from Scripture — no additives.
We met several people who were willing to hear us, but three women stick out in my mind.
Odette was injured in the earthquake. After some debris hit her on the head, she developed hearing problems and blurry vision. We prayed for healing for her. The Bible tells many stories of how Jesus healed people (and even brought them back to life) and I’ve heard many modern-day stories of how this continues. I’ve even seen His healing in my own life and the lives of people I know. So, I believe that Odette can receive healing for her injuries through prayer. (Would you join me in this?)
Sylvia was a mother of three kids who is barely making it. They still live in a plastic-tarped temporary shelter built by Samaritan’s Purse. She has a job, but I could tell it was difficult for her to scrape by. She told us that she believed in Jesus and used to go to church, but not any more. When I asked why, she said that at one time she did not have any money for food. Some people had given her a Bible and she treasured it. She went to her pastor and asked him to help her find food. He said he only would if she would give him her Bible. I could see the anger and resentment in her eyes as she told the story — and I understood it. Here was a man who represented God to her and who should have been a servant. He was fallable and messed up. I don’t know the man, so I don’t know if he’s corrupt or if he’s a fraud or any of the other things I want to assume about him. One thing did come to mind: How many people all over the world in all cultures won’t allow Jesus to bring hope and renewal to their lives because they met someone who claimed to be a follower but acted like a jerk? These people who hurt us — because they are human and fallable and make mistakes — are not God. Their mistakes are not His. It grieved me to see how she was angry at God for the mistake of a man. I didn’t have a Bible with me, but we told her about the church and about the good pastor we knew. We also prayed that God would send her a new Bible. We’ll try to get one to her, but there’s no guarantee that we’ll be able to find her again. Will you pray that God sends her a new Bible and a church where she can learn to trust the people again?
The last woman we met was named Alchemy. She listened to my friend tell her story about how Jesus changed her life. She listened to some stories from the Bible. The entire time she was glued to us and I could tell that the stories were connecting with her. But, she was there with a man. I’m not sure if he was her husband or boyfriend or brother or whatever. He was not interested in Jesus – which is his choice and it’s not my job to push him. But because he was there and wasn’t interested, it was keeping her from asking these questions we saw she wanted to ask. You could tell she had something to say, but was having to sit on it. The sad thing was her face as we left. She kept craning her neck to watch us as we walked away. I knew she wanted to talk more, but didn’t feel like she could. However, at the end of our time with this couple, several more people came up. One was a man who holds a type of Vacation Bible School right there every week. Would you pray with me that he would have a chance to talk to Alchemy and this man? I know she wanted to hear more.
Sorry that there are no pictures from today. I didn’t feel right whipping out my camera and taking pictures of people. I mean, if someone came door-to-door at my house and talked to me and then asked if they could take my picture, I’d say no. So, I wanted to respect the Haitians we met as well. Instead, I’ll show you a picture of where we are staying.
There’s a set of 3 small buildings with 4 beds in each. It’s not fancy, but it’s very clean and I have great roomies. We have actually named our little house The Hut of Awesomeness. It’s the one on the left in the picture. The trees behind the buildings are papaya and coconut and something else. At night the fruit will drop on the tin roof and it makes a loud bang. Until we got used to it, it would really startle us. The worst are the mangoes — they sound like a shotgun going off!
The girls asked me tonight on the phone if they could see my bed. Here’s a pic of the inside of The Hut of Awesomeness:
Did you guess that the one with all of the crap on it is my bed? How did you know?!?!
Beanie, I have the picture you drew me right above my pillow. You can’t see it well in this picture because of the mosquito netting. Because I’m a nerd who is freaked out about malaria, I pull it down every night. But, I haven’t really seen a ton of mosquitos. My bug spray seems to be all I need.
I’ll post more pictures of the compound later. For now, I’m going to bed! 🙂