We have our own little welcoming committee here in Haiti in the form of an elderly Haitian woman who I affectionately refer to as our "little angel." I first met her in July at a charasmatic, outdoor church service that I went to with our interpreter Fanfan. She immediately captured our hearts as she joyfully shuffled over to our location with a twinkle in her eye and a spring in her step to individually greet each one of us. In fact, the woman deeply touched one of our team members in particular ... our team leader Tom Gacek.
This week, when we arrived at church, I knew that Tom would be looking for his little angel. We took our seats and waited patiently for our welcome to begin. The music had started and suddenly, I noticed that Tom was gone. I glanced around and spotted him in the row that we had sat in during our July trip ... I knew that he was hoping she would see him. Finally, disappointed, Tom returned to his seat with the rest of our team members.
I quietly said a quick prayer asking that our little angel reveal herself. When I opened my eyes, there she was ... doing a quick little jig down the aisle of the church heading straight for Tom. My heart immediately fluttered and was filled with excitement and warmth since I knew Tom would be just thrilled to see her once again. Then, after greeting Tom, to my amazement she individually greeted each one of us just like she had done in July. She wanted to make sure that the visitors to her church felt at home.
Tom gave her a piece of gum as she continued dancing down the aisles, waving her hands in the air in worship. Shortly thereafter, she reappeared with a gift for each one of us ... pieces of candy. She sweetly placed a piece in our hands as she looked us in the eyes. Then, she found a seat in front of Tom where she sat quietly alone. Well ... Tom would have none of that ... he did not want her sitting alone so he politely escorted her over to an empty seat right next to me.
As the music continued, she placed her hand on my shoulder and began to pray silently over me. I couldn't believe the tender, loving care she showed by doing this act for a total stranger! When she was finished with me, she repeated this practice with several of my other team members. We were all so touched by her grace and eloquence. She was so precious and made us all smile. We were the outsiders at this church, but felt completely at ease.
So ... if you ever come to Haiti, don't be surprised by the warm welcome you will receive, especially from a little elderly woman at a sunrise church service in Port-au-Prince. Just like us, you will be touched by this angel.
(Unfortunately, I do not have a picture of our angel, but instead have posted a picture of the outdoor church that we attended. Services are held at the church daily at 6 AM.)