Thursday, September 1, 2011

Haiti Experience #1

Eske ou vle ale lay kay papa mwen
Lay kay papa mwen
Lay kay papa mwen
Eske ou vle ale lay kay papa mwen
Gen yen jwa jwa jwa!

On Sunday morning my hosts picked me up for church.  The streets are full of people like they are during the week.  However, you know it’s Sunday because most of the men, women and children are dressed in their best clothes, carrying their bibles and walking, riding the Tap Tap(a small van-like vehicle used like a taxi or bus), or standing in a pick-up truck on their way to church.  
So far my excitement about attending church in Haiti is not in vain.  When I attend St. John’s UCC, my home church in Richmond, VA, I enter into a building of beautiful walls and stained glass windows that tell the story of God’s love.  When I attended Trinity UCC, my home church in Chicago, Ill., I entered a building with beautiful walls and stained glass windows that tell the story of God’s love using biblical images that look like me--African American. 
My first Sunday in Haiti, I entered into a building with beautiful walls created by hanging material such as; bed sheets, curtains and other colorful cloths hung over a rope.  The roof is made from some of the same cloth.   Building and construction contracts, and lots of meetings and approvals have to take place to build a church in the U.S.   It appears my Haitian sisters and brothers have the community spirit of our Biblical sisters in the Hebrew Bible that brought their donations of cloths and various materials to decorate the temple. 
When we arrived, the congregation was already singing what sounded like invocations to God.  Then a group of men and women dressed in grey uniforms marched in singing songs of praise and worship.  Finally, a group of men came in and set up their instruments—drums, horns, guitars, large music sticks and a keyboard--while everyone was singing.  Before I blinked twice, they were playing their instruments along with the singers and the congregation. Oh yes, we were making a joyful noise (I am still learning the language, so I clapped with the beat).  This is what my elders use to call having a sho’nuff good time praising and worshipping the Lord.  The church was packed with men, women and children who were all involved with the service.  
The second Sunday, we visited a church pastored by a woman.  As soon as we walked in the sanctuary, you could see and feel the nurturing spirit of female leadership.  This church, with solid wall, three doors that stayed open (one in the front and two on the side), beautifully carved open windows and aisles decorated with flowers, was jumping with the spirit.  The people were on fire, the band was on fire, the pastor was on fire and I was on fire (in case you don’t understand—that’s the Holy Ghost/Spirit).  We had a Hallelujah good time.
Despite seeing the daily tragedy of suffering women, men and children in Haiti, for a moment my sisters, brothers and the children helped me to remember that the joy of the Lord is my strength.   It was a joyful time.  My elders use to say, the world didn’t give it (joy) and the world can’t take it (joy) away.  And that is the truth!
Yes, my excitement about attending church in Haiti is not in vain because I get to experience God in a variety of settings.  God’s house can have concrete, wood, or cloth walls.  It really doesn’t matter because you can have a sho’nuff good time, a Hallelujah good time and a joyful time in the Lord.  
Come and go with me to my Father’s house
To my Father’s house, to my Father’s house
Come and go with me to my Father’s house
There is joy, joy, joy!

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear from you Jeanette. I've got joy just knowing you are at peace! Talk to you soon.