I swear that Hatians don't sleep. It is 9:30 and there is a lot of talking going on outside my window (not to mention several other noises). It seems like there is a different noise every night. At least there is no smoke smell. I was told that they were burning garbage last night just across from my window in the compound. Now that I think about it the odor was not unlike when I was child in Kansas. We burned our garbage to.
Today was an easy day. We woke up, ate breakfast and the team went to painting. I on the other hand worked on a sermon which I will be preaching tomorrow at a small church up on the side of a mountain. I can't wait. For those who have heard the sermon (more than once for a few) I will be teaching about five principles of sharing faith.
The painting didn't take long because they ran out of paint (though we learned there was plenty more. The problem was the leaders were at a funeral). So much of the day was spent relaxing. I worked on my sermon after lunch.
Since I am on the subject of lunch I am going to say a little something about the food even though I said I was not going to. Breakfast and lunch are very light with lunch being the lightest. I read that most Hatians eat twice a day. I can believe it. Our lunches have been either hotdogs (which are eaten a lot by what I can see) or pb&j. The problem is, I cannot eat wheat and they have wheat at every meal. Bread is a stable. Fortunately I have brought some bars that I can eat. They were supposed to be snacks, but...oh well. Dinners are the biggest meal. There are plenty of, what we would call, side dishes. There is aways meat but not much of it. A little different then what we are used to. Reminds me of the Philippines. Alright, no more about food
The children here seem to be starving for attention. That is my impression and I have not been able to confirm or disprove. One little girl has stolen my heart. Her name is Louvnie (I thought it was Rufny). She is 10 years old. Today I got to spend time with her. Through gestures, an almost worthless translation program and her little English I learned that her father and brother died in the earthquake in Port Au Prince were they worked. It broke my heart. Daulus has told us that there is not one person who has not been affected by this tragedy.
Over time a crowd of children began to develop. We are not supposed to let the children upstairs with us. One or two are overlooked but you can't hide a crowd. So I sent the teens down stairs into the play yard. Kati and Mandy played hopscotch, jumprope and duck-duck-goose with the kids. Brandon kicked the soccer ball around and got invited to play a game of soccer. The field was the concrete of the play yard. I'm proud to say that Brandon scored!
While I was down there many of the boys came up to me. They were fascinated with my stomach. They say "you are fat" and try to push my stomach up. They are not being rude but stating a fact that stands out. A few of them swung on my arms and I swung them around. What surprises me the most is how they liked to hold my hand. Hand holding is the most common form of physical affection it is done between boys and boys, girls and girls and girls and boys. I have seen grown men do it. (Another similarity with the Philippines).
While playing with the children the PE instructor motioned for me to come into his office. He told me, with much broken English, that most of the equipment for the school is purchased by him. He wants to do a soccer tournament this coming week and he needed three balls and two trophies. I could tell he was very uncomfortable asking. After making sure it was okay with Betty (Mapas - meaning Mrs. Pastor) I gave him $40 of the hundred he needed. I think others will give him more. Things are very expensive here since the earthquake.
Before dinner Betty took us to look at a orphanage the mission is starting. They arerenting a house with 5 rooms (counting kitchen) that will house 15 children and two adults. There are many orphans since the earthquake and HCM wants to do all they can to help.
These people are truly an inspiration. They have so much faith in God. Even though they don't have the funds they move foward expecting God to provide and He does.
After an amazing dinner that included goat meat (Yay!) Lisa, Kati and I got to talk with Daulus. He was actually in Port Au Prince when the quake hit. He and his students were able to escape the two story building they were in. Daulus says it was only by the grace of God. He lost everything he owned in the quake but was thankful to have his life.
What I really liked about Daulus was his optimism. He said the quake has served a couple of purposes. It has united the people of Haiti (both poor and rich were equally affected) and it has opened the door for evangelism. Though the numbers could be disputed, Daulus feels that the voodoo (which is mixed with Catholicism) in the country has dropped from 8 in 10 people to 6 in 10 people and that more and more peope are coming to know Jesus as their personal Savior. God is moving in this place!
We actually got to talk a little bit about voodoo itself. Most Hatians believe in a Creator God called Bondye, but many choose to serve spirits called loa. The spirits are in everything. When they need help they will call on the loa through ceremonies involving dance and singing. At some point in the ceremony the loa will "mount" a person (posses). They will petition the loa or seek answers to questions and then will have it leave through another ceremony. Daulus said that he has seen people who have been mounted by loa climb trees upside down and stand in fire. One person was standing in the fire unhurt until the loa decided to leave and with it went the protection from the flames. The loa are nothing more than demons posing as spirits. They have a hold on the people of Haiti, but God is working against the forces of darkness.
This trip has been so good in so many ways. The biggest way is seieing God use HCM. This ministry is involved in so many things. They move foward in faith even though they do not have the means necessary. They trust in God's ability to make the impossible happen. We need to be open to the possibility that God can use us to help them accomplish their mission.
Tomorrow is the fourth of July. While many people will be celebrating in the states we will be touring Port Au Prince getting a first hand look at the damage.
God bless all. I am thankful that I live in such a prosperous nation. May I never take things for granted.