Every week so far seems like a year. It is really unbelievable how much can happen in one week. Some good, some bad, but all to the Glory of God.
Sunday started out with finally meeting Pastor Lex. Pastor Lex is the pastor of the local church that we attend, and a strong partner with the Hands and Feet Project. The timing of his sermon on Sunday morning was providential. Ephesians Chapter 6 has been a major theme since I have been here. Every night I walk the inside of the Village Perimeter and pray. Ephesians 6 has been the top theme of my prayers. It was refreshing and confirming this Sunday when Pastor Lex's first sermon after returning from the States was centered around Ephesians Chapter 6. God's timing is always perfect.
Every Sunday we take the kids to the beach at Pastor Lex's house. It is a wonderful time of refreshment for everyone. The only downside is that his house is located near the mouth of a local river, so depending on the tide and current flow you may end up swimming with the river's contents.
This Sunday the tide and current happened to be just right to bring us some brown water and whatever else might flow down the river. We swam anyway. The best part of the day was watching the kids play with a mango tree log. I guess the log probably floated down the river. They are so resourceful and just make the most out of whatever they have. I couldn't have imagined any toy bringing as much joy as the mango log. They all clung to it, tried to stand on it, and towed it for 3 solid hours without relent. It was with great reluctance that they abandoned it when it was time to go. I played with them for a while, trying to put the brown water out of my head and just enjoy spending time with them. Of course my own kids were out there, too without giving a thought to the brown water. They fit right in here.
It was great getting to know Pastor Lex. He is Haitian and married to an American. I got to meet his son AJ who is comfortably bi-lingual. Pastor Lex likes to have an English speaking service on Sunday nights so he asked if I would be interested in preaching on Sunday nights. I eagerly accepted and look forward to starting tomorrow night.
Sunday night was communion service. It was wonderful to share communion with the Mission of Hope body. Angie Sutton led us in the song Angel Armies – so appropriate for the morning sermon and the spiritual warfare happening all around us.
I am attempting to meet with every staff member and child that lives and works at the Children's Village, and started this process on Monday. I pray that God will give me and my family special connections with each of the staff and children, and that we will fit in here soon like a member of the family. All glory goes to God.
One afternoon I noticed one of the boys wielding a homemade slingshot and taking aim at a house. OK – teaching moment. I stopped and redirected his fire. I brought him out away from the living quarters and set up a target in front of a rock pile. It wasn't long before we had a good group all taking turns shooting at the target together. It wasn't long before I noticed Abby with her slingshot joining in. My kids fit right in here.
While I was shooting the slingshot with the boys, I noticed Amy and the girls playing guitar and singing music together. They sit out in the afternoons and learn to play praise songs from Amy. There are some old guitars that I found laying around in need of repair, hopefully I will get a chance to repair them soon. It seems that the kids here really soak up lessons if it is something that they are interested in.
It seems that most days it is hard to just get out of the rut to survive. We have so much more at our disposal than the average Haitian, so I know if it is hard for us it must be so much harder for them. It really helps us to know how to connect, how to pray, and hopefully how to provide solutions that honor God and honor them. Every one of my kids got sick this week so just getting though the day was really a challenge. They are well now praise God, and everyone is feeling a little better.
Every Tuesday we hold a staff meeting with the other team members at Ikondo. This past week, during the meeting I heard chanting and marching outside. We stopped what we were doing and went outside. What we were hearing was a funeral procession. A group of men were running slowly up the mountain in step and chanting while carrying a casket. No hearse, no procession of cars, just a group of men on foot chanting and running up hill. Every so often they would stop and swap out pall bearers, then resume. Soon they were out of sight and we resumed our meeting.
Later that night all the kids went to church, but since our staff meeting ran long we didn't make it. This was the night of the lunar eclipse. One of the boys stayed behind because he didn't feel well. While cooking dinner we could hear drums playing and chanting across the fence from our village. I went outside and talked to the boy that stayed behind and asked him what was going on. After some dialogue I finally got to the bottom of it. He said they sing and pray to satan. We had a discussion on spiritual warfare that I was able to tie back in to Pastor Lex's sermon on Sunday from Ephesians. We both read scripture together and then prayed for them – that God would save their souls, and that he would make their chants ineffective thwarting their plans.
The next day one of the boys walked up to me and said that I was needed at the food depot. It seemed that one of the ladies had killed two mice and she wanted me to know about it. I gave her some mouse traps and Amy set them for her. On my way back from the food depot I noticed a large group of boys swinging something on a string and throwing rocks into one of the mango trees. In the span of about 10 minutes they had put the two mice on strings and were “playing” with them. Someone had thrown one of the mice in the mango tree and that is what the rest of them were throwing rocks at.
The mouse still being “played” with was being swung around furiously while other boys were waiting impatiently for their turns. When I figured out what was going on, I told them not to play with a dead mouse because – and then one of the boys finished my sentence for me “Li gen anpil mikwòb!” Yep, so you get it, you just don't care.
I told them they had to stop playing with the dead mouse. So they flung it into a nearby tree. I said that wasn't good enough. The rest was a blur of activity that I vainly attempted to follow with a bunch of running, yelling, some fire at some point, and then a burial of the “toy” mouse. Satisfied with their outcome they ran off to find something different to do.
It seems that nothing lasts as long here as it should. Stephen told me when I got here that if something should last a certain amount of time anywhere else in the world. He used the example of a hammer only lasting a month if it should last a year. I thought this was absurd, “who could break a hammer” I thought. Alas, they have already broken a hammer that I brought with me. So no wonder we have problems with larger more important things like water filtration systems and generators. It seems that the theme of the past week has been “Nou pa gen dlo!” Which means “We don't have water!”.
Any various number of frustrating combinations could be the cause and an incredible amount of time is spent trying to figure out the right combo to get some water flowing again. I am narrowing it down, though and will hopefully get a handle on this soon. The result of not having water could mean that the kids have an excuse not to go to church.
One of the boys was running around with something on his head claiming that he couldn't get ready for church. When Amy inquired about the mystery substance all over his hair and beginning to drip down his face and onto his shoulders he responded “Chanpou!” Apparently he had soaped up, put shampoo on his head and then the water shut off. He wasn't the only one in that situation. At least we still had a reserve of drinking water and the more motivated and industrious boys had already tapped into our large cistern with buckets and were remedying the shower situation. They actually left for church on time.
Our generator mechanics have been trying to help out with our starter problem. They have some great names – Ti Blan and Pa Vle - . These names directly translate into White kid and Not Want. There is nothing white or kid about Ti Blan and I'm not sure what it is that Pa Vle doesn't want.
Friday we headed out to the beach again. This week we were a little more adventurous. Luke and I walked down a ways and were able to meet some kind folks who offered for us to play their guitar along with them. They were all drinking rum and dancing around in their underwear – about 7 guys in their early 20's. They got my attention by calling out to me, so I of course responded. They offered their guitar to me and I told them I only sang for the glory of God. They were OK with that and allowed me to play the only song I know in Creole and they listened. I told them – through much ridicule – that they were all invited to Church on Sunday and I would be speaking. They proceeded to try out their English skills on me – of course it is always the most disturbing curse words that people seem to learn first. But, that is how my Savior was treated. I thanked them for letting me sing with them and Luke and I went on our way. I prayed for God to save their souls as we walked on.
May God soften the rocky ground, and make springs of water flow in the desert.