The word “bet” in the Creole language can be translated as animal or beast. In the book of Revelation it is the word that is used for The Beast. I have recently learned that there is an expression in creole that ascribes people with white skin with this term.
Bebey has been a good friend that has helped me understand the Haitian culture on a deeper level. As we walk or drive he has been able to experience life where vast amounts of people yell “Blan!” and constantly ask for various and sundry things. He confided in me one day that there is an expression in this culture. He told me that a pervasive thought held by many people is “Blan se yon bet ki bay ou tout bagay ou bezwen.” The translation is “The white is a beast to give you everything you need”.
One particular sect actually teaches that the white people are outside of the kingdom, but it is good to let them bring you physical things. They are like the birds that brought Elijah food while hiding from King Ahab. Let them come and preach whatever they want, you don't have to listen to what they say, and take whatever they will give you.
Difficult to hear but certainly fits what we see in scripture. Jesus told us to expect persecution. He told us to be careful when everyone speaks good about you. Most of the people were following Him because they had their bellies filled, but he sent them all packing. Only His sheep hung around.
So that is what we do. We look for lost sheep. The Gospel call goes out, and His sheep will hear, and we forsake everything to advance that call.
John 10:14-16 14 "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me-- 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father-- and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
Jesus bought me with His blood. He adopted me into His family. He owns me. I owe him my life. I go where He says go, and do what He says when I get there. Some will hear the Gospel message and believe unto eternal life. Some will reject it. Many more will hate you for saying it.
Then there are ants. They have to be a result of the fall. There will be no ants in heaven I am sure. Since the day we moved into this house the ants have gotten into our food, into our stuff, and into our beds so they could bite us each time we would just fall asleep. It seemed that no amount of cleaning, no amount of bleach – because we tried using a whole bunch – would do anything to stop their evil ranks from advancing. We prayed. We said bad words. We were weary with the battle. Then finally we found the “poud foumi” or ant powder. Then God sent them away. Thank you God for “poud foumi”.
The window screens have also cut down significantly on the tarantulas in the house. There has only been two since we installed them, and I haven't seen any in a long time. We squashed both of them. It is nice to have made some advancements.
As I dig into the culture here there is something that I have never thought about before. Work ethic goes beyond the willingness to do a good job if someone provides a job for you. Working goes beyond the willingness to work if someone comes and gives you work to do. It is the willingness to do whatever it takes to find work and keep it – even if that work is demeaning, extremely difficult, or even dangerous. The excuse I hear so often is “But I can't find work”. This is a cop out and a lie. We must not fall prey to it by practicing or promoting it. “Make work” projects only further this idea and provide no sustainable economic base.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."
Instead we as Christians must lead the way in doing meaningful work (which includes advancement of the Gospel message - 1 Corinthians 9:14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel). We must resist becoming the answer to someones physical needs and instead walk with that person as they learn to trust in Christ. We certainly must share what we have, but we must never create dependency. We must be willing to admit our limits and point to a limitless God who can provide exceedingly and abundantly for His children.
So many excuses are made by missionaries and those that they are serving in regard to cultural differences. We must resist these excuses and confront areas that are regarded as culturally acceptable but in reality are sin. The Gospel is an offense to sin and we should never seek to weaken its power in order to make it more culturally palpable. 2 Corinthians 4:2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
Other areas that are truly cultural but not sin should be taken in light of Romans 14 and we can look at culture as collective opinion. In these areas we should strive for relationship and understanding while openly discussing our differences.
One area that is difficult to overcome is the idea that it is proper and pleasing to God to spend as much time as possible at your neighbor's house. This is directly contrary to Proverbs 25:17 Seldom set foot in your neighbor's house-- too much of you, and he will hate you. This is an area where the relationship must be built in order to speak the truth in Love.
I set aside a few days each week for a while to get caught up on administrative work, receipts, and budgets. During this time it seemed that every time I would sit down I would have visitors. Sometimes back to back, sometimes overlapping, but always in the midst of other work. I had to resist the urge to just break out the Sword of Truth on them and recognize the importance of the relationship and setting an example in order to lead them to the truth. Ultimately the goal is pointing them to a deeper relationship with Christ while growing in mine.
Luke and I try to go for regular runs. It is a dual purpose where we can get some much needed release in exercise and also explore the communities surrounding us. Lance struggles so hard with the harassment and pressure that he rarely joins us. The constant calls of “Blan! Blan!” with pointing finger, “Hey You!”, “Mwen Grangou!”, and the unrestrained asking for anything and everything including the watch on my wrist, the shoes on my feet, or the shirt on my back. One area in particular many people just resorted to cussing, laughing, and uttering various phrases of disrespect as we passed by. They were pretty shocked when we would stop and respond in Creole.
I have decided to use these times as opportunity in order to counter the culture with the salt and light of the truth. When confronted we stop, walk over and address the person. I tell them that it is disrespectful to say those things. Don't yell “Blan” or “Hey You” - many times it is a child being encouraged by a laughing parent. I look them in the eyes and tell them to instead say “Bonswa Mesye”. I also tell them not to ask for things and bring them to the scriptures on envy encouraging them to confess and repent. So much dependency has been created here and such a culture of a right to other people's things have been created that the idea of God as the great provider and sustainer has been lost and replaced by the Blan.
Bebey ran with us a few times. One time high up on the mountain we came to a small village area. We stopped and walked around in order to get an idea of what was going on. We met an old woman, lots of dirty kids, and a few other young ladies walking around. It turns out there is no church in the general area.
A couple of days later we went back to the same area. This time they were ready for us. The old woman stood out beside the trail surrounded by the kids and young ladies and patted her belly when we passed by. I was last (because I am getting old and slow) to pass by. She didn't do this to Bebey or Luke but only to me. I stopped and asked why she was asking me. She let a Haitian pass by and said nothing to him.
She looked confused and didn't know how to respond. Then she asked Bebey to ask me. I told her to stop asking me and to ask him for what she needed. She thought about this for a minute and decided to give it a try. She then told Bebey that she was hungry and she wanted some food. He looked confused and just asked me when we could come back again. I said we could come back in two days in the afternoon. I explained that Bebey would bring the food and I would bring the Gospel.
Two other guys walked up from one of the houses in the back right before we were going to leave. They overheard and were mad at me for what I had done. They said they didn't live there but were just visiting. It should be noted that they were “just visiting” a whole village area where the only inhabitants were an old lady, many younger ladies, and a whole slew of kids. They said that Haitians were poor and couldn't provide for themselves. They were both healthy young men in their early 20s. I asked them how they had provided for the expensive clothes they were wearing, gold chains, and gold earrings. Why didn't they sell those things and provide for the ladies who were living there in abject poverty. They had no answer and just got mad. Sin is sin.
I had already given Bebey and the two other guys in my group some donated food with instructions that they were supposed to cook this and share it with specific people in the community that had need. I told Bebey that he was going to cook some of this food for the lady and we would bring it back together in two days. He spent the entire way down the mountain with a long string of excuses why he could not do this. I told him that he had the option to say no to the lady, but now he was committed and I was not going to do it for him.
Two days later of course we had a driving rain all night and into the next day. I knew the trail was going to be a mess and it was going to be difficult to cook the food because Bebey was going to have to cook it outside over a charcoal fire. He came to my house early expecting that surely I would relent under the current conditions. He was very disheartened when I told him that I had no desire to back out and he needed to keep up his end of the deal.
So early afternoon came and we proceeded up the mountain in the rain. Me with my Bible and him with his pot of food. We arrived at her house soaked and muddy. She lived in a concrete house with a tin roof that was built by a mission organization after the earthquake. We stood on the porch area in the driving rain. The lady didn't eat the food, but instead transferred it to another container so that Bebey could have his container back. It was interesting to note that she had a big pot of food already cooking inside the house when we got there. She was cooking over an open fire on the concrete floor inside the house with no chimney because of the rain outside. The house was filled with smoke. You could see the look of disappointment on Bebey's face when she nonchalantly took his food that he had worked hard to prepare and placed it next to her big pot of steaming food with little regard.
I shared some scriptures with her, but she was mostly too distracted to listen. Her cell phone kept ringing and she kept answering it. Her mute son that was wearing only a torn ladies sweater kept tugging at her, making grunting noises, and motioning to the pot of food. She would just whack at him and tell him to get away. I tried to get some information about her and the rest of her family there. She said she was Catholic, couldn't read but knew the whole Bible because she had been to church before, and had accepted Jesus seven times already. Her husband died last year.
She had an 18 year old daughter there that seemed genuinely interested. The daughter goes to church fairly regularly in the nearby town of Parpet. She said that she had accepted Christ but was going through the process of cleaning up her life before she would be accepted for baptism in her church. She didn't know how long it would take. I expressed my frustration with this backward teaching to Bebey. He really didn't know what to say in response but just explained that it was pretty normal in most Haitian churches. I explained that you cannot clean up your own life. You need to come to Christ broken and let Him fix you. If you could fix yourself you wouldn't need Christ in the first place. The water was a symbol of Christ's blood washing away sins that you can't wash away on your own.
I prayed with the family and asked if they would like for me to come back. They said they would like to hear more so I set a time to return. On the way down the mountain in the rain we were able to discuss the events.
A few days later the road was dry and we went back up there in the truck with my family, Wesley, and FanFan. We sat in the dirt next to her house and shared the gospel message from the Creole bible. Chickens pecked around us as I talked as the old lady and her daughter listened. The mute son of about 12 years old kept making grunting noises and asking for water from a nearby jug. The closest water is about 20 minutes away down the mountain and must be carried back up to where the houses are. The lady kept refusing to give it to him saying that it was too hot and would whack him with a small stick when his pleas became too much. There were other younger kids around too. Some were wearing dirty, torn shirts and only a few were wearing pants - an interesting way to learn what a culture believes about circumcision.
Later other kids and some of the younger women came up. The kids were wearing school uniforms and had been to school that morning. The closest school is about a 45 minute walk down the mountain.
We met some of the kids and other ladies, we prayed for the people there, and then left to go home.
You never know what reaction you will receive when going into a new area. A different day in a different area after running the gauntlet of cries of “Blan!” and “Hey You!” along with being asked for things, Luke and I had two young boys join us on our run. They didn't ask for anything but just wanted to hang for a while. They stayed with us for about 30 minutes and we talked. When we passed back by the spot where they started they dropped off. We gave some high fives and kept on going.
It seems like everything is a little harder here. Even the expression “one hand washing the other” gives new meaning when you have to pour the water over your hand with a cup to wash it. You can't really use both hands to wash each other, it takes way more effort, and your hands don't get as clean. I'm not really trying to tie this in as allegory but I'm sure someone can figure out how it fits. I'm just saying it's not easy.
It seems that Friday night bible study is always under attack. I had just prepared, prayed, and was sleeping on the roof in order to catch a few minutes of sleep before we started. It was a good try, but I was abruptly awaken by Amy's gentle voice telling me something was potentially wrong. It went like this.
Beginning with screams of terror”OH LORD JESUS SHE FELL OFF THE ROOF!!! ANNA, ANNA, ANNA!!!!” Then repeats of the same and a bunch of frantic running around. I woke with a start and ran downstairs as fast as I could.
Lance had gotten there first because she saw him pass by her window on her short and fast journey to the rocky earth beside our house. I got there and she was out of breath and doing the panicked vain breathing of a person that has just had the wind knocked out of them. I put my hands on her and started praying. Amy and Abby were right by my side standing as bastions of strength and decisive action even though it was masked in panicked screams, tears, and hopeless sounding cries for help.
After Anna caught her breath she immediately hopped to her feet from the bed of sharp, jagged rocks and proclaimed, “God healed my back, but my arm is broken.” No tears, no more worry, just matter of fact statements followed by an attempt to walk off like nothing had happened. I told her to lay back down so we could check her out. Amy and Abby began to comfort Anna by sharing their fear and uncontrollable tears.
She was bleeding from her mouth, but it turned out that she had bit her lip. The only real area of pain was near her wrist on her left arm. She had broken her right arm a couple of years ago while performing some circus stunts in the yard with an old tire and the help of her brothers, I guess she figured she would go ahead and break the left one now so they could be even. Bruises and swelling accompanied the pain.
I have heard boat accidents described as more severe and potentially deadly than car accidents. It has been explained to me the difference is that when two cars crash the accident is over, but when two boats crash the accident begins. Every accident in Haiti is like the boat accident. After the fall begins the search for medical help. The next day around noon we were finally able to find it.
It seems that 4 o'clock on Friday all help stops. The night clubs open up, voodoo picks up at midnight, but medical help is not to be found. Maybe the doctors go to the nightclubs.
We started in Petit Goave and arrived just before 4 pm. We were informed that the X ray technician had already left for the day. From there we picked up Wesley and went to Leogonne. The main hospital in Leogonne was greatly helpful by offering us a good place in line when they opened up for official business on Monday morning.
The second place was a clinic with a sign outside that advertised 24/7 service with radiology being one of the specific services they offered. They told me inside that the sign was not true, then they told me they would not even see us until Monday morning, and then the front desk nurse reprimanded me for ace wrapping Anna's arm before she saw the doctor. Well that was the last straw. I fired back with something to the effect of them being incompetent if they would not see me until Monday and question the fact of why I would try to take care of my daughter. Then I probably said something about them not valuing human life but I really can't remember exactly. It probably wasn't the most Christ-like statements I could have made.
Finally I gave up and decided that I would try to go to Port-au-Prince in the morning since it was dark already and I didn't want to go to Port-au-Prince in the dark. Amy had been in touch with Pastor Lex and Rene Edme. Rene called me as I was heading back to Grand Goave and told me there was a doctor as part of the current mission team and told me I was welcome to bring her to him to get checked out.
I called Amy and explained to her what was going on. The Bible study was still happening with Luke, Lance, and FanFan leading. It is the most simple thing but certainly the most powerful. Just the Word of God. We listen to 3 chapters of the Bible in Creole and then watch 3 Chapters of the Visual Bible in English. So simple, so powerful, and so much opposition.
I decided to go to the house first and get Amy and the rest of the kids before heading to Pastor Lex's house. As if things weren't already bad enough I pulled up on the scene and things didn't feel right. Amy was talking to the group with the help of FanFan translating. I walked up and listened to Amy apologizing for Lance's behavior and then saw Lance walk out of the house to apologize.
Then John Franswa stood up and said there was no need to apologize and went into a long story about why. I was figuring out what was going on but needed more details. Amy explained to me on the way to Pastor Lex's house that Lance got frustrated when people kept trying to plug their phones into the power strip the projector was plugged into. We only run the generator when the projector is on and I guess people decided to charge their phones while the generator was running. Lance told everyone that if they just came to charge their phones then they were here for the wrong reason. It seems trouble always comes in bundles.
When we arrived at Pastor Lex's house they had just finished supper and offered us the remaining food on the tables. I was famished so was very grateful for the offer and took them up on it. The doctor took a look at Anna's arm and said it was probably broken and needed an X ray. Then Pastor Lex convinced me to go to the Grand Goave hospital the next morning assuring me they would be able to X ray it. I was so reluctant to go and gave many reasons why I knew they would not give me an X ray, but in the end relented after he made a call to a doctor that said he could do it.
I woke up early and got to the hospital before they “opened” for business. The hospital is part of a mission from Cuba to Haiti (go try to figure that one out) and the people that work there speak only Spanish. So here I am in Haiti at a Cuban hospital and I can only speak bad Creole and deteriorating English but need to be able to speak Spanish in order to communicate with the hospital staff. In the end we figured out that we would need to wait for the Haitian doctor to arrive. He was running late. Go figure.
We waited a very long time but had the company of some local dog hanging out on the cool tile floor to keep us company while we waited. Finally some time around 9 the doctor saw us and said that Anna's arm was probably broken, that we would need an X ray, but the hospital couldn't do it because the X ray tech was in Cuba. I was pretty mad and said that I felt like I was lied to.
I took Anna and started to head out of the hospital. I was pretty mad and not paying attention when I almost ran into a guy I know from church named Robert who was coming into the hospital. He was holding a young boy of about 10 years old in his arms and looking pretty distraught. I stopped and asked him what was going on. He explained to me that the boy's mom was “negligent” and he was malnourished. I prayed for him and told him that I would find him later to find out how things were going.
I picked up the rest of my family from the house and we along with Bebey headed to a hospital in Port-au-Prince. We called Wesley who was already in the area and he agreed to meet up with us in Mariani. After picking up Wesley we went in search of the hospital. After a few vain attempts and a bunch of asking around we finally found it. We parked the truck on the street area – mostly dirt, gravel, and trash – and went inside the hospital. It was a walled area of several smaller buildings and some temporary shelters.
Triage decided the arm was probably broken and would need an X-ray. They directed me to the office area where I could pay first and then get the X-ray. While I was waiting in line to pay for the X-ray I noticed a guy and a girl sitting down. The guy had a giant head wound with a massive amount of stitches. After some inquiry I found out that someone had struck him in the head with a machete. His story that went along with it highlighted his defense of personal innocence, but more than likely it was something gang related.
After paying for the service we went back to triage with the receipt, and then they sent us to radiology. The guys in there were pretty nice and took the X-rays. They claimed that her arm was not broken. We asked for copies of the X-rays and they told us we would need a blank CD – there just happened to be a guy outside the gate that sold blank CD's. I bought one of the CD's and they put the X-rays on it for me. Before I left I talked to the guy with the head wound some more, shared the gospel, and prayed with him.
We decided since we were already in Port-au-Prince we would head up to Petion Ville and get some groceries. We sat in traffic on Delmas for hours crawling along at a snails pace. There are always guys trying to wash your windows or your car for money and I paid a couple of guys to wash my windows.
After that one of the guys was persistent and kept rubbing the truck down even though I kept telling him not to. I had already paid some other guys and I wasn't going to give him any money. He persisted and then demanded I pay him. I refused. He decided he was not going to let it go and began to climb into the back of the truck with Bebey and Luke. As I noticed this I slammed on the breaks and sent him flying forward.
He climbed out of the truck and slowly walked away. I got out of the truck and stood in the road to make sure he didn't try to do anything else. Finally he decided to leave and I got back in the truck and continued waiting in traffic.
Wesley explained to me that these guys are called Cocorats. He said that he use to know some of them when he lived inside a mission in the area. He told me most of them are orphans and what they are doing is the only way they can make a living. It definitely helped me understand more and have some compassion, but it is hard to know what to do. You can't pay everyone that comes along wanting to wash your car or your windshield.
After a long day we finally made it back to Grand Goave. When I took Wesley home Robert was standing out by the road. I asked him how his nephew was doing. He told me the hospital gave him some medicine and sent him home. We went to his sister's house together and found the nephew lying on a blanket outside in the gravel with a lot of people around him. I talked with them for a while and then prayed for the nephew. We gave them a bag of food before we left.
I am learning that one of the main desires when a church invites me to preach is that I am either going to give them money, or connect them with someone else that is going to give them money. It is a difficult situation to navigate. After trying to be kind, listen, and continue sharing the truth I have learned that the only tactic that works is being blunt. I am not going to give you money – are you still interested in hearing the gospel and learning the bible? Even a yes to this can often just be a pretense with the hope of money still attached. I am learning also that the problem is not a lack of money, but a lack of willingness to spend the money on the things of God.
One of the local churches that I have been able to preach a few times has a small school. The leadership approached me about funding their school. I told them that this was not my mission or vision but I would be interested in knowing what goes on there since they are my neighbors. If it seemed like they were doing a good thing then I would be happy to pass on the good work that they were doing if anyone else would be interested in partnering with them.
This gesture on my part only snowballed and finally got somewhat halted after a visit. One of the guys asked how Anna's arm was doing and said he wanted to visit to pray for her with some of the other men from church. When he arrived I noticed the other men that were with him were two of the school professors. They seemed confused when he began by asking about Anna's arm. He then started having two conversations – one about Anna's arm and one about how the professors were going to get paid. On his way out the door I finally picked up on the fact that he was telling the professors to come to my house the next day and that I would pay them. The whole thing was a trick. One on me and the other one on the professors.
I confronted him openly and asked him why he thought he could trick me like that. I told him that I had no intention of paying his school professors and made sure the professors understood what was going on. He had only used the excuse of praying for Anna's arm to say to bring the professors by and try to trick me into paying for them. The professors conveniently had something immediately pressing to do and had to leave. I stayed behind and wanted to make it crystal clear with the other guy where we stood. It seems there is just no end to the deceptions here – even in the church.
After several Friday's in a row of rain coming right on time for Bible study we decided to move the study into the big room of the house. The first Friday we did this the rain came hard so I couldn't run the generator in order to run the projector. I checked the watts on the projector and the inverter I have is just big enough to run it from our battery bank, so that is what I did. I was happy we had just what we needed to continue until we got to Acts Chapter 9. Apparently Chapter 9 was missing entirely in the Audio Creole Bible, so I just asked FanFan to read it out loud. Then we were able to continue forward. It has been amazing though for the past few Fridays we have had a smaller group, but no problems and more interaction. Praise God.
Sometimes its the little things that make all the difference. Like toilet paper. There is always a slight anxiety when after searching the town for 3 days and coming up short every day that this might finally be the time we have to improvise. Thank God that he is faithful to provide when we are down to our last roll.
I was able to preach in a Church in the mountains on a beautiful Sunday morning. It was a good worship service with only voices. I was able to preach on Revelation 5 and the worship that is owed to our mighty God and Savior. After the service the pastor asked to talk to me for a while. He began by telling me how much servants of God must suffer, and then he asked me to buy him a motorcycle. He explained that he lived in the town but knew he was called to Pastor the church on the mountain, but it was too difficult to go back and forth all the time. If I would just buy him a motorcycle then all of his problems would be solved. I listened and tried to be kind as I pointed out the fact that if was really called to Pastor the church there, then why didn't he just move to where the church was.
He explained to me that he had a house in town and it would be better for his kids to go to school there. He has one child right now and she is a small baby. I explained to him that I understood what it is like to be called to an area and to move there with my family. After he thought about this he conceded and didn't ask me for anything else. We prayed together and I went home.
Upon reaching our house we noticed that no one could find the keys. We couldn't even get in the gate to the yard without the keys. After a few minutes of frantic searching, lots of accusations and harsh words, I finally resorted to prayer. It was as if God revealed to me exactly where they were.
I told everyone to get in the truck and we were going back to Grand Goave. Everyone was sure that I was crazy and reluctantly conceded. We got to a spot and everyone got out to look. After about 30 seconds someone asked us if we were looking for keys. After we affirmed that we were they told us to wait while they went into their house to retrieve our lost keys. I gave them some money for their trouble. We went back to our house and were finally able to fix some food to eat. We were pretty famished after the eventful morning.
Nothing is easy in Haiti. I found out that transferring a vehicle is like everything else here. Not easy. The most difficult part is the fact that so often people just lie. I set a time to meet the seller at 8 am. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that he was not there when he said he was going to be. Bebey accompanied me and helped me navigate the process. After 2 full days and an eventful story that would warrant it's own blog post the truck is finally mine. I don't want to ever go through that process again.
We usually try to take one day a week as a break for our family just to go somewhere different. Our day off fell on the same day as Amy and I's 21st wedding anniversary. We decided to go to a nearby restaurant together. As soon as we ordered Junior (our neighbor of about 11) showed up. We just invited him on in to eat with us. One of the hardest parts of Haiti is an almost complete lack of any semblance of real privacy. They are a collectivist culture to a fault.
Wesley doesn't have much family so I knew it was going to be hard on him when he called and explained to me that his aunt was dead. This was the same aunt that I had shared the gospel with for the first time a while back. I agreed to go to the funeral with him which entailed picking up the casket from Grand Goave and bringing it up the mountain in the back of the truck. I met Wesley in the morning of the funeral at the house of the guys building the casket. I was dressed in my suit and waited for 2 hours beneath a banana tree watching the guys finish out the casket before we finally loaded it into the truck for the trip up the mountain.
When we arrived at the spot that we could not drive the truck any further we were met by a group of guys and a jug of moonshine. Apparently the moonshine serves as fuel for the body when you are going to haul a casket over mountain trails that people can barely walk carrying only themselves. They picked up the casket, started singing songs, and left us behind struggling to keep up.
As we passed by houses and people with the casket ladies started throwing their hands in the air and wailing. As we approached the house we could hear the screams and cries from the ladies. There was barely a level spot anywhere surrounding the house, but I was offered one of the only chairs that existed because I was a guest. It didn't take long before we heard big claps of thunder and felt the first drops of rain.
Everyone crowded on the small porch of the mountain house or under an old tarp full of holes connected to the porch. A couple of guys were sitting at a small table playing cards indifferent to the activity taking place around them. I recognized one of them as the Houngan (voodoo priest) that I had visited and shared the gospel with a couple of months before.
As I stood on the crowded porch trying to maintain my balance and listening to the wails and cries of the grieving women, I noticed one of the support poles was broken. It appeared to have been that way for some time and even looked like someone had vainly attempted to fix it with some nails at some time in the past. No one seemed to care and many people even held onto it as it wiggled and creaked. I was sure that any second it was going to give way and the roof was going to fall crushing all of us. God is merciful. I didn't die at that time.
The rain pounded, the guys played cards, the women wailed, and more people came and crowded onto the porch and under the tarp. Meanwhile some family members were in the house preparing the dead for burial and putting her in the casket. Finally they moved everyone aside, brought out the casket, and used the card table to place the casket on. Then the service began.
The service was conducted by some type of Catholic clergy member with the aid of a megaphone. It was similar to most Haitian services but slightly more peaceful. At the end there was an advertisement announced for and invitation to attend an event happening at the Catholic church the next week.
When the service was complete the men picked up the casket and carried it away to another location where they would put it in a concrete tomb. There must be some expectation of the family members to totally flip out at this point because that is what happened. Screams and loss of control followed by flopping around on the ground along with those still in control moving in to provide WWF style restraint of the person in full mourning.
After things calmed down a bit the Houngan came to sit on the porch. I went over and sat with him and asked if I could visit his house again in order to continue sharing the truth of God's Word with him. He said the invitation was open.
Right before we left to head back up the now muddy mountain trail I was able to share a few words with Wesley's uncle. He was visibly sad. I took this opportunity to ask about his eternal state. He said he was not familiar with the story of Jesus so I shared the gospel message with him. He halfway listened but showed no real sign of response.
We walked back to the truck on the muddy trails. When we got back to the truck there were several people already sitting in the back waiting for a ride back to Grand Goave. We passed by one area where a man stopped the truck and attempted to put some wood in the back. I asked what he thought he was doing and said that the man that built the casket thought I was going to bring these down the mountain for him. I told him that I never agreed to such a thing and then we stopped and stared at each other for a while in awkward silence while the rain picked up again.
He decided that he would leave the wood there but asked if he could get a ride down. As we kept driving down the mountain the people in the back called to people on the road and more people ran to get the free ride. I finally had to stop and tell them that if they called for one more person to get in the truck I was going to make everyone get out because the truck bed was almost touching the tires already. They all agreed not to let anyone else in. That didn't stop people from trying and then shouting bad words when they were refused.
Finally Wesley and I made it back to my house about an hour before Bible study started. It was just enough time to get something to eat. We hadn't eaten all day. Amy was awesome and served us a wonderful meal. We finished eating just in time for Friday night Bible study.