This is my last day. My body says it is about time, my emotions are struggling with leaving. Today we had a lot of fun in the afternoon going to a market where the highlight for me was the top top getting stuck trying to park, and a bunch of Haitians coming to the rescue, pushing us out. It reminded me very much of being young in Minnesota (yes I was once young) and pushing people out of snow banks. It always felt good and I am sure it is the same the for the guys that helped us, a lot of back slapping and high fives, we guys are so easily entertained. We followed that up with a drive to top of the mountain overlooking Port au Prince, the view was nothing short of spectacular as was the view during much of the drive if you enjoy sheer cliffs very close to the road, which I definitely do. But as awe inspiring or down right fun all of this was for me it all paled compared to the worship service we attended at Grace Village.
It is difficult for me to sort out the best way to try and convey what happened and how I felt but I will begin simply with a description of the chapel. it is a simple room about 30 x 40 feet with typical Haitian windows which are not great for ventilation and of course no AC, still we were not uncomfortable, or at least not much. The walls and floors are square tiles with fish on them. We were told that adding up the fish on each tile there are 5,000 of them. Very appropriate since we are on a mount. There is no pulpit just a stand. Music is supplied by musicians with guitars a keyboard and drums. All of the musicians are excellent singers.
As for the service, the music was lively and deeply moving. I could not help but sway and try to sing along even though I did not know the words, even when they were in English. When Pastor Wesley was speaking it was equally moving even when he was speaking Creole. All this made for a moving spiritual experience. We had attended a service on the first day at a tent church, close to where we were staying, that was structured much the same way, and should have been equally moving but it wasn't. Though at the time I was deeply moved it did not compare with the service today. All day today I pondered as to why that should be.
I have been in several houses of worship where I felt the presence of God very deeply, as I am sure many, if not most of you, have been as well. This was beyond that. I felt the presence of of God so fully that at times I thought it would lift the roof right off. Unfortunately we have all also felt the presence of Satan while we worship when for just fleeting moments he distracts us with inattention or flights of ego and pride while we sing or speak (always in very small ways for he dare not raise his head to high in God's presence but still he likes his petty torments). I did here as well, with one huge difference. Each time Satan pricked me I felt as if God blew him away with powerful blasts of his breath right through me and Satan had no answer. The blast was palpable and very real to me. For brief moments I was allowed to feel the unbelievable peace of a world completely devoid of the dark one. There was nothing but light, possibly a brief glimpse of heaven, I don't know, but beyond any ability I have to describe none the less. To begin with all of this was beyond my understanding but what puzzled me the most was why, why here, why now.
As I said above this ran through my mind all day, what was different. As I said the both services I attended in Haiti were very similar, though one was in a building the other in a tent. In both cases most of the congregation was made up of the Haitian people, whom I have come to love deeply. The music was deeply moving but one did not have anything over the other and Frankly I have experienced music equally moving in several American churches. What was different?
In the top top, driving home from the mountain late that afternoon it struck me like a thunderbolt. God had been preparing me all week. Every moving experience I had while performing the tasks God asked us to do. Every bit of laughter with one of the beautiful children we were privileged to be with helped set the stage but most of all, it was every moment spent with each and every member of our team, sharing tears, frustration, laughter and joy, all under God's wing. He worked his magic through each and everyone one of us, constantly magnifying his work. Building the team into something where the whole was far, far greater than the sum of its parts. By the time I walked into that chapel this morning it had built up to the point where it literally blew the top off.
I have never experienced anything like this before and my initial thought was I will never experience any like this again. In the end that may or may not be true, that is for God to decide but after giving this still more thought I decided that question is really irrelevant. The real question is why God decided to build everything up to this incredible experience. I think it unlikely in the extreme that he did it simply to give me this euphoric feeling.
The task before me now is is to pray and ponder on why he chose to do this. What does God want from me, from us? With his wisdom and grace I know I can find the answer. I will be still and listen.
Wherever two or three of you are gathered in my name, there I am with them.