Thursday, July 31, 2008
Breakfast was cream of wheat and bread. This morning was the first day of the marriage seminar. The couples straggled in late, some walking two hours. The attendees were local pastors and their wives. John presented the biblical roles of spouses and the unique needs of wives and husbands. We were very skeptical about whether the Haitian culture would connect with the material. We were delighted that they seemed to be understanding, but saddened by their questions, which always seem to focus on the stress that finances brought into their relationships. We broke into separate discussion groups of men and women. They were open to sharing and we had some good discussions. Lunch consisted of lobster and conch, great as usual. In the afternoon we had the treat of the Hope for Children presentation and our gifts to them. They were all dressed in their uniforms and presented songs and skits to us. A highlight was the opportunity to spend some time with David, our sponsor child. We presented him some special gifts for he and his mother. In the late afternoon, I convinced one of the RMI staff to take a small walk. We enjoy walking through the town and stopping on the beach. The meeting tonight was with the church leadership, sharing the progress of ministry in eachother's church. Supper was fried vegetables. After supper was a team meeting.
Today (Sunday) was the big day of worship. The morning service is always the highlight of the trip. It is a thrilling experience to observe and join in their worship. There has been such a rich history of a relationship with this church and Harper (20 years). The relationships carry on. over the many visits. I was pleased to recognize many of the people. The service took a couple of hours, but it went fast as we absorbed it all. Introductions all the way around, worship songs, special music and a sermon. Pastor John preached on the sacredness of the marriage bed, which he did with great boldness. Given the focus of this trip being the marriage seminar, it was an appropriate topic, and one that touched a nerve with immorality being a problem in Haiti. Lunch was goat, rice and a macaroni salad. The goat was great. One of my favorite things is to walk through town and to the beach, which we did in the afternoon. The youth presented a program for us, and then it was off to the open air service. The blancs (white) are a great curiosity and everywhere we go will draw a crowd. I preached a sermon about the human conscience and we showed a film about a conversion from voodoo. Supper was pumpkin soup which is a special treat that the Haitians normally only enjoy on New Years.
After a few hours of sleep, we awoke to a little cooler temperature and breakfast calls. Breakfast was boiled eggs, bread, and spam spaghetti. Our first activity of the day was to hike two miles in the mountains nearby to a satellite church. The hike had beautiful views of the valley and sea. This church had had its bamboo structured church building destroyed in a storm. They are renting a small house to worship in. The pastor is very cheerful and a blessing to see. Our team has fallen in love with this little church in the mountains that has so little. After returning to Les Irois, we had a great lunch with fish,avocado, rice and beans.Excellent! Our afternoon activity was a trip to another satellite church. The parsonage is falling apart and our church presented them with some funds to build a new one. They were very appreciative. When we got back to Les Irois, we walked a little around town and down to the beach. One of the girls braided dreadlocks in Esther's hair. She says that it is much cooler. Supper consisted of various fried vegetables bread and rice. After supper, we had a planning meeting. By the way, it is quite hot because of the humidity. The nights are the most difficult because the rooms have no airflow.
I am lying in a sleepless swelter on our first night in Haiti. The sound of raucous music from late night partiers is not putting me to sleep, so I thought I would journal. The flight to Port au Prince went well. The shock of Haiti comes quickly as the plane lands over the sprawling slums of the city. The tarmac is furnace of hot wind that welcomes you to the Caribbean summer. After some delay in waiting for luggage, it was off through the mob of belligerent porters, to a bus to transport us to the other side of the airstrip for a flight to Jeremie. The chaos of the check-in system came to a crescendo when the airlines refused to put on Esther and my personal luggage. Fortunately, we had half planned on the possibility and will be OK for a day or two-if our bags come later. The flight to Jeremie was in a small fifteen seat prop job that smelled of fuel. It was a short flight, and we were happy to be on the airstrip in Jeremie. The drive to Les Irois took about four hours. Driving the roads of Haiti is definitely an experience. Since motor traffic is sporadic, the road is the main walking path for the people. You have to share the road with motorcycles, bicycles, donkeys, cattle, goats, pigs and thousands of people. You do get to see Haitian life in process, everything from bathing to partying is all done along the road. It was dark by the time we got to Les Irois and the church was ready to welcome us. It was good to see some familiar faces from the last trip. It is wonderful to be here. The frustration of the language barrier is evident in everyones faces, but we are determined to make the best of things. The accommodations are superb by Haitian standards as each couple has their own room in the parsonage. Tomorrow promises to be an adventurous day of touring some of the district churches.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
After a morning nap we took a walk around the hotel. When we got back to the hotel, Dave and Kim were there with a rental car. We had a great afternoon exploring Miami in a convertible. We saw Kim's childhood home and school near University of Miami. Then it was off to downtown, Little Havana and Little Haiti. We ate at a Hatian restaurant to help climatize our stomachs. I had goat, and it was great. We ended the evening connecting with other team members. Tomorrow will be a big day.
We are enjoying an afternoon tropical thunderstorm from the comfort of a Miami hotel. Yesterday was a travelthon with delayed flights and layovers. We landed in Miami at 1:00 am. After searching the unsecured areas of the airport for the best accommodations we set up camp for the night near the rest of the vagabonds. It reminded me of disaster shelter pictures with every family setting up their territory on the floor. After a couple hours of reading and trying to get comfortable, we drifted into a series of naps, interrupted by intercom all calls and passing service carts. By 7:00am, the airport was filled with departing travelers jockeying their luggage into long lines. After a fast food breakfast in the airport, we caught a shuttle to the hotel, hoping to check-in early as we wait for the rest of the team to rendezvous. Fortunately, we were able to check in at 9:30 and enjoy overstuffed beds for a two hour nap. We woke to an afternoon thundershower which put a damper on our poolside plans. So for now it is chillin in the cushy hotel room, waiting for our coming adventures.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Tomorrow Esther and I embark on our Haitian adventure. We brought Calvin to the airport to spend a week in Arizona with Corbin. So Markus will be holding down the fort. We fly to Miami tomorrow and Port-au-Prince on Friday. After a week in Haiti, we will take a few days to enjoy the Florida Keys. I will be attempting to blog when I have a chance, but no promises. Please pray for our safety, health and a fruitful time of ministry, both through us and to us. BON VOYAGE