Dennis sent the following update from Haiti:
It’s been a very eventful two days. After we arrived on Saturday (after a 3:00 am wake up call), we got settled in the team house (very comfortable) and immediately drove about 30 minutes to the community, where we met the leaders and set up the drilling rig. There’s always an awkward moment when we arrive because we immediately attracted a crowd of curious Haitian children, women and men. We just jumped in by saying hello (“bonjew”) in Kreyole (language of Haiti). No matter how badly we say “hello,” the people are very gracious and “bonjew” always prompts a smile…and the ice was broken.
We took a quick tour of the current water supply: a shallow well that was tested and found undrinkable. Since it’s the only close source of water, it’s what they drink, bathe and wash clothes in. Anywhere you go, you see people—mostly children and women—carrying either empty of full water containers. Yes, most women here can carry a full five gallon bucket of water on their head. I dare you to try it. Just try to get it up there—let alone carry it up a mountain road.
Today (Sunday), we attended church in the community where we are drilling the well. The worship was incredibly heartfelt; the singing was enthusiastic and contagious. It was great to see some of the community leaders we met on Saturday leading the church on Sunday. I’ll tell you, these people dress up to go to church. I had to smile because, even though we were in a building with a metal roof and a dirt floor, the service was interrupted by a loud cell phone going off. “Just like home,” I thought. At one point, one of the women of the church who had just taught a Bible study lesson, had each group of people stand up and tell the rest of the church what they had learned during the Bible study. Hmmmm…I think I’ll try this at Crossroads the next time I speak. Get ready!
We have two young men who travel with us to serve as translators, so they explained various parts of the service for us. At one point, they opened up the service for a prayer time. Everyone prays at the same time…out loud. As these people thanked God and prayed for their needs, it was like verbal music as the vast array of voices (young and old, men and women, children and teenagers) sent up prayers. What a moment.
The best moment for our team was when Nicole Vander Vliet shared her story with the church—through a translator, of course. We came somewhat prepared to share our stories, but she didn’t know she was going to be asked to do so (I asked her) until two minutes before she got up. Preparing our stories is part of the training we do prior to coming, so she wasn’t caught completely off-guard. What she said touched each of us, as well as encouraged the church in a very powerful way. Whenever anyone speaks from the heart, everyone understands—even if you don’t understand the words. You just never know how and when God is going to reach out, split open the heavens and simply touch people. What a moment.
Sunday afternoon was spent driving through downtown Cap-Haïtien. Google says the population of Cap-Haïtien is 200,000. It’s really about a million, seriously. We ate at a very nice Haitian restaurant next to the ocean. A number of us ate goat, while the less adventurous stuck with chicken or beef, prepared Haitian style. It’s always a big tug on our hearts as we drive through living conditions, block after block after block, of family shops eking out a very meager living.
We meet each evening to talk about our day, share observations and feelings about the day, pray and get ready for tomorrow.
Tomorrow we do two things–begin to drill the well and begin a children’s program/ministry with the teachers and children of the community. Here we go…
Please keep the team in your prayers.