Cat: Waking at 5 a.m. hearing people praise the Lord is a pretty amazing experience; the roosters crow along with the singing. In America, we take our worship for granted. Often, we make excuses for not going to church: “I’m so tired….We’ve been so busy this weekend….I need a break.” The Haitians see worship as essential as breathing – they cannot live without it. My hope is that I would see worshiping God and being surrounded by believers as something that I cannot live without. In America, we gather in our beautiful sanctuaries and practice our songs to perfection so we can be heard. But we are missing the heart of worship. The Haitians get it. They are worshiping God with spontaneous singing as one voice in tin roof churches made of concrete or tarp. I helped with two backyard Bible clubs. Lori Nolte and Vonda Calcutt are doing an excellent job with songs, crafts, and Bible stories. It took us about 20 minutes to hike up a mountain to the second backyard Bible club. Although it was hot and humid, the scenery was breathtaking. I could not help but praise the Father as I was hiking. Our two interpreters are having just as much fun as the children. One of them has a 2-yr-old son. He lost his wife recently, but there is no doubt that he has put his hope in the Lord.
Jeff: The Pastors Conference has about 50 pastors and church leaders attending. Simon has been very enthusiastic as he translates each phrase from our English to Haitian Creole. I have been amazed at the attention span of those attending; they are extremely hungry for the Word of God. After I finished my session, I was impressed with the deep thinking in their questions. One of the pastors came up to me after the session and thanked me four times for coming from America to teach him from the Bible. He was obviously seeking God’s purpose in his life as a pastor. In America, I have met countless people who do not desire to even open up their Bible or take the time to be trained by someone to study their Bible.
Cat & Betty: The first day of the Ladies Conference today went extremely well. We met outdoors in one of the school’s hot, open-air classrooms that has a tin roof. Every once in a while there would be a slight breeze, but let me emphasize “once in a while.” We started by singing a few worship songs with hands clapping and feet moving to the beat. The Haitians absolutely love singing “Father Abraham.” The women started piling into the small classroom as soon as we started singing. We had about 30 women on the first day, which is the best attendance so far, even though today was market day. Betty taught the “Be Attitudes” with boldness and passion, and the women were very receptive. Our interpreter, Ginette, did an amazing job leading the singing, translating, and praying. She said the ladies were happy to learn more about God, and about Jesus’ life on earth. They understood the message, because they said “amen” repeatedly in agreement with Betty. I believe they could have sat there for hours soaking in the Word being taught. Even though it was extremely hot and coal was burning nearby, it did not deter their eagerness to learn. Betty and I praise the Lord for such a beautiful experience worshiping with the Haitian women.
Lori: Today we had the unique experience of holding VBS in Daniel’s voodoo village. I was a little nervous and somewhat reluctant; I didn’t know what to expect. The poverty level in Haiti is unbelievable, but walking into the voodoo village was sadder than anything I have seen yet. These kids don’t have worn out shoes – they have no shoes. Their clothing is tattered beyond anything I would even donate. We were shown to an area shaded with a thatched roof between concrete walls with paintings of Jesus. This wasn’t at all what I expected to see in a voodoo village; I assumed they rejected Jesus altogether. Once we began the music, the children came quicker than they have in any other village. We had 27 children and 13 adults; the most adults we have had at any of our VBS sessions. The children sat quietly and listened as we narrated four Bible stories for them to act out. During music they sang and danced with great excitement. They even requested to repeat a song we had done at the beginning of the lesson. I was reminded of a statement I heard a few years ago while chaperoning a kids camp: “Jesus loves everyone as much as He loves you.” To Jesus, these children in this small voodoo village in Haiti are just as important as my well dressed kids back home. I think about this and wonder how I could have ever considered sitting out this VBS session. Today is a day I will remember forever.