February 24th: We headed to the little road just across the river to a large building, half full. When we arrived at 7:00 am, they were already singing their last few songs before the sermon. It was a breath of fresh air to see that there were no jumbo, over-powering speakers to help with the process of hearing damage. It seemed like everyone was participating in the singing, which was led by a young woman. All the women wore something to cover their heads. (Head coverings were the norm for women in Haiti until fairly recently. Now, for the ones who still hold to this value, it doesn't always matter what the covering is made of either. I've seen it all, it seems. Any scarf, Lacey thing, T-shirt, children's pants, stocking caps, ball caps, or even wash cloths are consider adequate for covering.)
After Pastor Bazalet gave his usual introduction and shared what a "great sacrifice" Barry has made to come live in Haiti, Barry's 90-minute sermon held the full attention of the congregation. Afterward, the pastor stood up to reiterate what Barry shared. "Usually we don't have anything to do with Americans," he said, "but it was a blessing to hear one preach the truth."
February 17: A large group meeting in an old brick structure, squeezed tightly into the bustling town of Mouri, about a half hour north of our house. The building itself was only feet away from the blacktop, but the tight quarters meant the only place large enough to park was a fair distance down the dirt lane that ran nearby. Approaching the church on foot, we could not actually see the building until we had squeezed through a single file alley between other buildings, and stood in the small, paved courtyard just outside. Tne church seemed to have been added onto. A side wing that looked like it was still under construction allowed several more people to sit and participate. As we took our seats on the last available bench, we quickly realized we had to spread out evenly and try to keep our weight towards the ends, or the on remaining board may not hold our weight. I couldn't help but notice the pile of rocks in the back of the room, implying there was still work planned. I wonder if we would ever consider it viable to meet for worship in a building that was still under construction. Many, many churches here do this for years and years, simply for lack of funding.
Barry delivered a practical message, using simple explanations and examples to paint a picture of holy living that was easy to understand. There was a small group of Americans visiting as well, workkng with the children's home that this church operates.
February 11th: A somewhat familiar church. Barry has spent a lot of time with this pastor and having Bible studies at this church. Before we left for furlough, Barry had bumped into the pastor at the market. He was beaming. He joyfully told Barry that he was a changed man, and he was going to start getting his church in order. He didn't care if everyone left. Well, a few months later there's not an empty seat in the house.
February 4th: The "fancy" church. It stands tall in the village of LaDigue. For nearly a year it was a place that Barry said he would hope to be able to preach, but didn't see it as a very likely possibility. It turned out that one of the young men working on the house is a faithful member, and arranged to opportunity. Despite the grandeur of the structure, it was one of the smallest congregations we've seen. I haven't quite figured out exactly what draws people to one church over another, but it often seems like the more humble church houses are bursting at the seems. Of course, many of them have money for loudspeakers, drum sets, and everything it takes to have a good time during the music portion, and that does draw a crowd. This particular church was more on the mild side.
This was Piker's first opportunity to translate a Sunday message. Josnel wasn't coming, so I suggested he give Piker a chance. He was evidently very nervous, but the message went forth nonetheless.