[Editor’s Note: In early December, a Floris mission team returned from Haiti. Since there was no internet available while on their trip, we will be posting blog posts written during their time in Haiti over the next few days. Read previous posts here.]
After some evening rain, we awoke to the familiar sounds of roosters, lambs, pigs, and a flowing stream. The morning was humid from the added moisture. Breakfast was scrambled eggs, peanut butter and jelly, bread rolls, and fruit punch. After, the team walked to the nearby church for Sunday worship service.
The church was badly damaged by Hurricane Isaac. Large tree limbs supported the metal roof; parts of the roof were exposed to the open sky. Simple wooden benches served as church pews; a breeze would sometimes flow between holes in the wall and rattle the metal roof. Despite the conditions, I felt God’s presence in this church.
Prior to the church service, the mission team agreed to lead bible study for the children and young adults – to worship together as brothers and sisters. Many of the children were dressed in their Sunday best; the girls wore a variety of colored ribbons in their hair. Some brought worn Creole version bibles. Larisa Ramich read Psalm 100 – the psalm of thanksgiving and grateful praise. Steve Bracewell read the story of David and Goliath from 1 Samuel 17. For each reading, we were assisted by Frantzou Avril, one of our much-needed translators. Steve emphasized that if we follow God’s will then anything can happen.
Pastor Vital Vilma preached his sermon with periodic translations by John Claude, the second interpreter. Pastor Vilma noted that despite challenges, we all have this day to worship God. After a church song, the entire congregation read Psalm 41 (a Psalm of David) in Creole, French, and English. We sang a song of praise (Psalm 23) and Frantzou led the church in prayer. I heard a familiar rhythm of words but it was in French – the Lord’s Prayer. Terry Drew carried a child to the front of church and read one of selected scripture readings – 1 Corinthians 1-3. Each person on Haiti Mission Team then introduced themselves to the congregation. Pastor Vilma said that when Jesus returns, all of us will be one with God. We heard beautiful songs from the Ladies and Youth choirs. After the offering, I picked out a small girl to stand with me as I read the second scripture reading – Luke 10:25-37 (parable of Good Samaritan). This reading was very appropriate – whether in Northern Virginia or in Bercy Haiti – we need to help those in need. The way we help others really matters to God. Pastor Vilma asked everyone “Who is your neighbor this morning?” Steve led in closing prayer. Pastor Vilma made some church announcements, which included the loss of a family member. After the worship service, the mission team and part of congregation walked to the home of family to pay their respects.
After lunch, the mission team led a Vacation Bible School (VBS) session from 1-3 PM. The VBS experience resembled the bustling and chaotic Haitian marketplace in Port Au Prince. We offered a variety of activities for the children – crayons and coloring books, stickers, blow bubbles, Tic Tac Toe, John 3:16 on chalk board, puzzles, beads, hair ribbons, Nerf football tossing, and teaching cards on colors, shapes, and numbers. The time flew by. The children and mission team had fun and grew closer together as brothers and sisters in Christ.