Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Holy Ground

(Sunday October 16, 2011- Chris)
I met up with Pastor Joseph at the crossroads in Croix Des Boquetes. We drove up Goat Mountain to a town called Mirabalis. This is the location of Pastor Joseph’s third church plant. The congregation had been renting a plot of land on which to have Sunday services. The land lord grew tired of their inability to pay the rent and drove them off. They tried to meet in a cheaper place further up the mountain, but even the smallest rainfall made the road almost impassable for the elderly members (which was most of them). Pastor Joseph came in and purchased the original plot of land they had been renting, and gave them the UNICEF tent he had used after the earthquake.
There looked to be about 30 members gathered when we walked in, more than half of them were under 12 and over 55. Pastor Michelette was speaking. He had recently been in a motorcycle accident that had left his upper lip scarred and swollen. Pastor Kesnal said that Michelette had cut down some of the trees on the property, without consulting him and felt that the accident was a divine consequence. Joseph also told me about a place down the road that is a “Mystic place.” Every year voodoo practitioners gather there and bath in a waterfall and hold ceremonies etc. This past year some of the congregation went to that gathering to evangelize. They warned those people that there would be consequences to their actions. Later that day there was a large car accident that killed many people. “Divine consequences”.
Kesnal and I sat in the front of the room. The floor was dirt. My right foot was next to one of many ant hills. This was church stripped down. No microphones, no multimedia, no producers, no hospitality table, no handouts, no kid’s ministry. The worship instruments were a large two sided drum (a thick stick hit one side while the left hand hit the other), a weida (kind of like a cheese grater scraped with a fork), and the voice of the worship leader. The song was from a hymnal that no one had, they sang from memory. I lamented my pitiful Creole. Then the pastor went into a message, which included a memory verse, John 10:26. He must have lead them through that verse 35 times. Kesnal leaned over and asked, “Are you ready to give a short message?” I was not, but I said yes and prayed for words. I read John 10 and I expanded on the bit where Jesus rebukes the Jews for their disbelief in spite of seeing His miracles. “You don’t believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep hear my voice and they listen.” Jesus is speaking, He is leading us like a flock of sheep. Listen. When He gives direction, follow. When He gives a command, obey.
Then I spoke about His miracles. We all have miracles that He is working in our lives. Should we keep those a secret? No. Tell others. Tell everyone about what He is doing with us, to us, and through us so that they too may believe. For those who won’t listen or believe, keep talking and leave the heavy lifting to God. Kesnal translated and then spoke for about 45 minutes…I have no idea what he said, pitiful Creole.
From Mirabalis, we went further up and farther into the mountains. The pavement turned to dirt, and the dirt turned to rocks, mud, and holes. It was the bumpiest ride…ever. There were times when the vehicle was almost completely sideways. There should have been a camera posted on the front of the car, it could have been a commercial for Land Cruiser.
Finally, we came to a riverbank that defeated the Land Cruiser. It was a 3 foot drop to the rocky bed. I figured that we would be walking or turning back. Two men walked up and said they would dig out the drop and make a ramp. So they started with their hands, then a man (probably about 65 years old) showed up with a pick axe and went to work. A few moments later there were 5 men with pick-axes. For 100 goudes (about $2.50) they made an incline for the land cruiser. The goudes was an afterthought. I think they did it because we were in need.
We made it up to Holy Ground church and met Kesnal’s brother-in-law, Paul. Paul has the same Jesus tattoo over his left eyebrow that Kesnal and his wife Yanickhave. Paul also spent most of his life in the U.S. but came back to Haiti to serve. He has been in the mountains for 2 months and dreams of going higher into them.
“Everything you need is up here.” He said to me while showing me around his house, “We have goats, we have chickens, we grow rice, we grow corn, we grow, coconuts, mangos, melons, avocado, and coffee. Our water comes from a spring high up and flows down to us. We have a view that is only rivaled by Heaven. And the people here are beautiful. What else do we need?” Paul waved his hands and I took in the view. I have been telling people about the deforestation and erosion of the island, and it’s absolutely true, but at the same time here was this place. The people are financially poor yes, but they have immense resources.
 “The world has these people brainwashed.” He said, “They think they have to take their resources down to Port au Prince and bring back plastic junk and bags of garbage. They are told that they need technology and commercially produced stuff. They are told that they need Port au Prince, but they don’t. They walk their produce down the mountain through those crazy roads and get cheated. If they just kept what they grow here, Port au Prince would come to them. People in Port au Prince are brainwashed too. They think the people up here are savages and that nothing good can be up here. You’ve been to both places now. What do you think? History tells us that the white settlers thought the Indians were savages, but who wiped out whom? Who was the savage?”
I sat with the pastors and relaxed. I drank water from a coconut that had just come from the tree and then ate the flesh from inside (tasted like coconut pudding but not as sweet). I ate beans and rice and chicken (from a chicken that had been alive earlier that day). I ate an avocado that came right from the tree (tasted like buttery bread). And I drank the juice from a grapefruit that was still warm from sunning on the branch (sweeter than orange juice). All of this warred with my fear of illness, but as I write this 24 hours later I feel fine. I pushed past that fear and found happiness.
We went back down the mountain and into Croix de Boquetes. It was dark and charcoal fires burned everywhere. The smoke and exhaust were thick and made my throat raw. If they ever get a chair lift or something for those mountains, I’ll move in tomorrow.