By: Martin Hawley
I woke up this morning feeling quite a bit better, mostly with an annoying congestion remaining in my throat. The prayers of the children of God in Haiti for me were indeed answered. Enjoyed hearing the Haitians outside my window speaking in rapid-fire Creole. We are off to a much more outlying church (26 miles to the north up the coast) in a remoter area of Haiti today. It will take some time to get there and so we are leaving at 7:45 am.
We departed about 8:00 am for an outlying church north of Port-au-Prince. We traveled the main highway (actually a simple paved road) which for much of its length follows the curvy Caribbean coastline of the country. We encountered the usual blend of Haitian road traffic: pedestrians, pull-carts, burrow-riders, worn-out cars and trucks, the all too common safety yellow school buses, and converted trucks used as jumbo-packed taxi cabs. There were also the frequent United Nations’ vehicles; from small cars and economy SUVs to armored cars and half-tracks with machine gun mounts.
We passed by much unused, yet very arable land, bordered by steep mountain slopes to our east and the aquamarine Caribbean Sea to our west. The portions of the lower mountains which had been mined for building materials and resembled the white cliffs of Dover intrigued us.
Jean Paul drove our van past a large open area market, both going-out and coming back to Port-au-Prince. There were vast quantities of tomatoes, potatoes, bananas, watermelons, mangos, and plantains.
We arrived at our destination, a church and school in a village not far from the sea. The school was really a structure made from natural Haitian woven materials with a dirt floor and the barest of school furnishings. Outside, the area was filled with chickens, goats, and pigs (not to mention a stray kitten or two, who found their way into the school room while Alan was teaching his portion of the class).
Before we began the class, the pastor and leaders of the church took us across the roadway to their other property, where they intend to build a new church. Since we wanted to learn about Haitian construction methods, they took us to the lot immediately behind their, where another building was in process of going-up.
After the construction tour, we began teaching the Means of Grace course to the twenty or so gathered to meet with us. They were extremely attentive and included the local pastor, three other pastors, and a mix of younger and older men and women. On this day, and the previous two as well, Jean Raphael Ceon (another pastor and builder of homes who is networking with Jean Paul) joined us for every class.
The class concluded about 1:00 pm and we gave the seventeen participants who remained for the full class certificates of completion. We gave these out individually with proper Haitian decorum and much to the delight of the students. As a generous ‘thank you’ to us, the locals gave us King Colas — a favorite soft drink in Haiti.
On the way back to Port-au-Prince we decided to visit the compound of Charles Amicy, a PCA MTW missionary to Haiti. Pastor Amicy was educated at Greenville Presbyterian Seminary and is both well-funded and well-supported by U.S. volunteers. We expected him to out of the country during our visit, but as it turned out, he was in fact on-site in Haiti. Once we cleared Amicy’s two security gates, and the ‘moat,’ we were admitted into the compound.
After an initial tour conducted by one of Amicy’s pastors, we were told that someone wanted to see us. We were escorted by one of the guards to an adjoining compound with a very well situated home. Turned-out that it was Charles Amicy himself who wanted to see us! He invited us to sit with him in his office and we had a good chat about ministry in Haiti. He then gave us an extensive tour — including a look at his newly built orphanage, which is awaiting interior completion. The construction was elaborate and Jean Raphael Ceon informed us that it was extravagant in cost, because even the walls were done in poured concrete.
After our visit with Charles, we headed back to Port-au-Prince, took a break at the Travel Lodge, and then Jean Paul picked us up again around 5:00 pm for a trip to another church for evening worship. We arrived at 5:30 pm and the worship began almost immediately. It was a terrific service that ran all of two and a half hours in length!
I learned after the service that some of the 355 or more in attendance had actually walked twelve miles to be there for the worship! It was my turn to preach and by the grace of God I was feeling better. However, my voice still sounded a bit strained. I preached from Romans 8:31–39, after about an hour and a half of music and enthusiastic prayer. It was a very charismatic atmosphere and style of worship, but mightily displayed the Spirit of the living God. I sought to adapt my preaching style to the congregation and the moment, by standing to the side of and not behind the pulpit, aiming for very expressive language, posture, and gestures. I also quickly discarded the microphone, which continually flared into high-pitched frequencies. The sound system was set to so high a volume that you could literally hear the music and the service blocks away!
There were eight Haitians there who professed faith in Christ following the preaching. When the service concluded, the ladies brought our bottles of Coke for us and other soft drinks. We drank them quickly, thanked our hosts profusely, then hurriedly left because of the lateness of the hour. The darkness after sunset in Haiti is almost complete, as there are no streetlights to assist in driving.
After dropping off some of those who had walked so far on foot to the church, we returned home to our lodgings and concluded a busy day with planning for Wednesday’s activities. I should note that one of our favorite treats to have after a long and dusty day was the Haitian rum raisin ice cream, which surpasses by far anything available in the U.S.! As the ice cream is made locally, with fresh ingredients and without preservatives, I highly recommend that anyone visiting the country try both the rum raisin and the chocolate.
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