Blog post written by Dorene Palermo.
The night seemed short but the air conditioning kept the room comfortable. After a quick (warm) shower it was a nice omelet, fresh mango fruit, and good strong coffee for breakfast. I was almost the last one to the dining area.
The van arrived on time and I discovered I had miscalculated how many huge bags of medications and supplies we had. In reality the van was not big enough for all of that, the driver, and translator and 12 team members. However this is Haiti and we demonstrated that not only “tap taps” always have room for one more! We almost had more weight than the van could pull up and down some of these very rough roads. When we arrived at Cite Soliel campus for church we first unloaded all the stuff into the clinic.
As we did that we could hear the amazing music and singing filling the air from the sanctuary adjacent to the clinic. As last year, we were seated on a row near the back on an aisle so we would be able to leave the service at the appropriate time without disturbing the others. From there we were able to see the rows and rows of Haitians, many with Bible in hand, dressed in their best clothes engage in a worship service you are unlikely to experience in the U.S.
For probably an hour before we arrived a music ensemble on the stage at the front, led by a young woman singer, with a voice that could fill the heavens, led the music service. Choir members in modest green blouses and dark skirts, white hair coverings, sat to the left of the stage. From the center podium the young woman sang, words in Haitian Creole displayed on a large screen behind her and everyone in the sanctuary sang, moved, raised hands to the heavens, knelt in prayer, and created amazing, beautiful, full throated, uplifting music in praise to God. After nearly an hour of singing, the choir filed onto the stage and performed a beautiful hymn that continued for 10 minutes. A group of six young men, one of them an acoustic guitar player, then sang a beautifully harmonized piece. Although we could barely see them over the people in the pews, eight or 10 little girls in red dresses with red bows in their hair performed an active dance to some recorded music. The applause for them was vigorous.
The young lead singer turned the pulpit over to a large, bald man who appeared to admonish the congregation and to discuss quite enthusiastically the Bible Verse of the Month, Ecclesiastes 9:10 “Whatever your hand finds to do, do with your might.” First time visitors were welcomed with ribbons (even our team!), people with birthdays this month were awarded ribbons, and then communion was begun. Communion here is not by intinction but bread and cups were distributed to everyone and the bread and cup were shared in unison as one.
When communion was ended, the cups and the collection were collected at the same time by ushers who stood at intersections in the sanctuary while people filed past them and then returned to their seats. We filed past them and left the sanctuary for we were heading to Repatriot to join their church service in progress.
When we arrived for the second service, they had already adjourned, so we escaped the sermon this week. I guess we will need to be especially diligent with our devotions. Instead we had the joyful pleasure of holding hands with pretty little girls in the Sunday best and touring their school building. We went up to the roof and gazed across the homes to the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other. A mild breeze added to the pleasant experience.
After about a half hour we headed back to Cite Soliel clinic where we changed from our “Sunday Best” into casual clothes and began the orientation to the clinic for the new folk and the set-up of the exam rooms, triage, and pharmacy. We were pleased to see our daily host there is again Fritzon and we were also pleased to reconfirm we had wifi. We want to try to keep some simple records in the pharmacy to help us understand this trip to help better plan the next one. We shall see if that really works.
We headed to the Vista Lodge for a “quick bite to eat.” It only took 2 hours! The food was good and as we sat under a roof by the pool the temperature was very pleasant. From there we went to the tin village to shop among their incredible art. Several people worked on their Christmas gift list and Jules kindly picked up some things we can make available at One World Market Christmas Sale next week at Westminster, to continue our fund raising to support the Haiti mission.
At this point I think God sent us a sprinkle of rain to send us scurrying back to the hotel a bit early. A nice shower, maybe a nap, catching up on blogs and emails, a cool beverage, and in a few minutes we will gather for supper and devotions. It is thundering again now, so I will stop before the power goes out again on the router.
A really good day!