Sunday, August 15, 2010
Tent cities and beauty
Our Jacmel team made it safely to the Ozana hotel thanks to Pastor Deblussy and our crazy (you'll find out why later) driver Pierre. 5 hours after landing in Port Au Prince's sweltering heat and mad house of an airport, we were sitting and enjoying a fabulous meal prepared by Pastor Deblussy's wife Mona. The topic of conversation? The journey of today and what we can expect this week. I think we were a bit too overwhelmed to ask many questions about our surroundings.
When we first arrived, we managed to avoid some of the obstacles that we were prepared for like being stopped in customs or having anyone take our luggage and demand money to return it…although given that we had to unexpectedly check our bags, I think this was quite an accomplishment- or more likely the hand of God. We found our contact who took us to the Pastor and our driver and we bought a local phone. We were on our way.
The 2.5 hours drive through Port Au Prince was, to say the least, shocking. I think I expected to see some devastation, but I don't think I was mentally prepared for the continuous, with-out-end poverty. The smells and the tent cities went on for hours without end. Once beautiful buildings lay in shambles and children played in mud
and remains. The people were truly some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. Cars and trucks looked like they would run over anyone or anything, but somehow with the help of our aggressive driver and the horn, we made it through the crowded city with no incidents. At one point, I had to holler to the driver who was picking up speed, that we had a child hanging on to my window. The driver slowed (barely, the pastor called out and the boy jumped off and laughed.
Once we turned on to the mountain road, our travel adventure really began. For 1.5 hrs, our driver Pierre took hairpin turns at 50 and 60 miles per hour. Although initially we were clinging on for dear life, we began laughing hysterically and even videoed some of the adventure. The pastor laughed at our attempts to hold on to seats, seatbelts and grip bars.
The contrast between Jacmel and Port Au Prince is huge. Our hotel is clean and air conditioned (thank. you. Jesus) and we can walk to the church and Pastor’s house safely. While there are many tent villages, many of the people here have homes and own little stores. Even so, the devastation has touched Jacmel and continues to do so.
This morning we attended Pastor Deblussy’s church. How amazing is the presence of God that it is the same no matter where you are. The worship was beautiful and earnest. Jesus is literally folk’s only hope. So, when they sing, “Jesu, Jesu”, there is a depth in their cry that I don’t think many Americans could ever really understand- myself included. I suppose when your faith is all you have to cling to, it has to be strong to keep you from breaking. I cried as I watched them sing with their eyes closed and hands raised to heaven because we are in love with and feel the same Jesus. They sang Take My Life and Lord, I Lift Your Name on High- songs I have sung many times and I thought about how God must feel when He looks down and sees all of us equal- all His children no matter where we suffer, where we live and no matter what we look like or how we are dressed. He sees our hearts and our intentions and He cries over our hurts. I can't imagine how He has cried over the devastation His Haitian children have endured.
This past week was Vacation Bible School, so the children got to show off verses and Bible stories they memorized and songs they learned. The children are so beautiful and precious and have so much joy. What a treat for us to see what God is doing through this church and the children it is raising up to serve the magnificent God of the universe.
We are back at our hotel after lunch and trying to catch up on blogs. We are looking forward to a week of painting, clearing land, carpentry, singing, guitar playing, and whatever else is in store.
Attached is the video of our trip :-)