Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Worship: Together Is Better!

Our first full day in Haiti was Sunday. The compound where we were staying was a part of a big church with many members. We were not able to attend the entire church service, as they are usually 2-3 hours long in Haiti, however we did get to experience a small piece of it. I have witnessed poverty before, but never in such extremities. It's everywhere, all encompassing....but in the midst of it is a sense of pride that I have never seen. The Haitians have an appreciation, not only for church, but for coming and worshiping God that is rare.
I watched as hundreds of men, women, and children came to church dressed in their Sunday best. All of the men were in suits, and no matter the heat, they did not remove their coats. The women were all in fancy dresses as well as the children. From the outside looking in, you would not know they were in such meager conditions. What impacted me the most, however, was gazing out of our bedroom window (remember....the open air rooms=) ) and watching the people below walking to church. Just outside we saw all of the men and women paying what little they had to get their shoes shined for church. Some were even carrying their own chairs for the service. The lengths and depths that these people go to for a Sunday service were amazing....HUMBLING. They bring their very best to the Lord each week.

One of my favorite parts of the service was singing the hymns. As the Haitians sang "It Is Well" in Creole, I was able to sing along with them in English. They were so captivating to watch because when they sang, you could literally see their hearts pouring out. They were raising their hands, eyes closed, praising the Lord! PRAISING THE LORD! I looked around at our surroundings, the depth of poverty, and wondered what kind of faith it would take to thank and praise the Lord for circumstances such as theirs. This is the FIRST moment of the trip where I actually "got it." When I looked at them my heart asked "How can you praise the Lord?" When they looked at me their's responded, "How can we not?"
We were taken by bus up a mountain to a smaller church. It was very similar to the larger one. It was a really neat experience because while we were there to see them, learn from them, experience their culture, they treated us like honored guests. You could tell that they seemed very happy to have us and tried really hard to make sure everything went smoothly. Even the children sat through the entire service (2-3 hours) and acted perfectly. We were able to take communion with them, hear their choir perform for the first time, and even got to sing to them. What touched me the most was when we sang "All In All." We sang our song to them in English, and impromptu, they sang it back to us in Creole. It is definitely one thing to "witness" the worship gatherings, but we were able to sit and worship right along side of them. It was a wonderful opportunity I will not forget. As Fellowship always says, "Together is better!"


After church we were greeted by all the children and adults alike. Language is always a barrier, but it was broken quickly by hugs, smiles, and fist bumps!!! Church really made an impression on me and really allowed me to focus back on my own life. How do I prepare for church each week? What do I bring to God's table when I come? But not only that....what do I go home to when it is over? As I sat in the small church on the mountain, I often gazed out the open door and windows to the homes that lined the hillside. I began to wonder what a typical Sunday afternoon was like to these church members. Do they get to nap? Do they have a bed? Where do they hang/keep their nice clothes? How do they get them so clean? (Everywhere you look you saw clothes line drying.) Where do they even buy clothes? (I haven't seen anything that even looks like a store.) It made me think about my lazy Sundays: how I love going to worship, going out to eat, coming home and putting the kids down for a nap (in their own big, separate bedrooms), and crawling in my big, comfortable bed and relaxing. Again.....HUMBLED!

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