Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Sunday Afternoon Drive

I should have learned by now that in Haiti, if someone asks you for a ride, you should just assume there are 20 or 30 other people needing that same ride.
Sunday Pastor Rony mentioned that he would like to go visit a man's home. He attends church regularly, and his wife is sick and cannot come. They live about 25 minutes away, traveling by "machine", so he makes quite a journey for church every Sunday. I needed to go deliver food to a sick baby down the road that afternoon as well, so I happily agreed. When I turned the truck around in our driveway, I laughed at myself for thinking only Rony and Paige and I were going. Most of the people from the morning's church service were waiting by the gate to come along. They happily packed into the back and front of the truck, until there was little room left for Paige and I. Paige is a real adventurer, as you can probably tell, so she of course was entertained by it all.

When we arrived at Exaltus's house, we filed out of the truck and crossed the road. All of the neighbors came out to watch. I don't know if it was the crowd or the "blans" that attracted their interest. Exaltus and his wife welcomed us onto their tiny porch and the congregation sang a few hymns and recited a Psalm from memory. Then we prayed over their home and for the health of Madame Exaltus. There is no shyness about prayer here, which is refreshing. It is common for a group of believers to gather together and pray out loud, all at once. The family was very thankful for the visit and the fellowship.

Afterwards, when I thought we were heading home, Rony told me about a Pastor down the road who had passed away. Our next stop was the church and home of the Pastor's family, where they were holding a memorial service. Many members of that church were gathered around the home in support of the family. Some prayed in the church, while others congregated in the yard and on the porch of the family's home. Family members generally wear black here to signify their mourning, sometimes for more than a year after their loss. We again sang songs, recited scripture, and prayed for the family and church.

At times during the prayer, I was a bit distracted by the children who gathered around and pulled on my pant leg and touched the mysterious white skin on my arms. Some of the adventurous ones would stay around, but most ran away giggling when I tried to talk to them.

Even though we were total strangers for the most part, the family and church members there seemed appreciative of our visit and support. We prayed that the church would continue to spread the Gospel and grow through this hard time.

Paige decided to sit in back for the ride home, probable for the fun of it, and also to avoid sitting on the stick shift or parking brake again. We stopped many times on the way back when the passengers banged on the top of the truck, signifying that we had reached their destination.

On a simple Sunday drive, Paige and I got to share in the Haitian experience a little more. I am thankful for the chance to be reminded of how fragile life is in this place. Death and sickness are a common and accepted part of life here, and faith and prayer are sometimes all the Haitian people have to hold on to. It made me think of last weeks' reflections on prayer and "small" miracles. I am realizing that it might be easier to see those miracles and God's hands at work in a country like this where so much - including life - is hanging by a thread.

As always, the little experiences here seem to turn into adventures.