I hope you are well this evening. I had quite an eventful day, but a really great one.
This morning, as it was Sunday, I went to church. Donette is the woman in charge of the Guest House and her husband, Oblami, is a Methodist circuit pastor... which means he has many churches he has to go and visit (a different one each Sunday) instead of just one church. There is a specific order he follows and then repeats the pattern to visit each congregation as often as possible. Today, we decided to join him and Donette... especially since the nice beaches are just a few minutes drive from where the church is.
It was about an hour drive out there but it was wonderful. The church is in a smaller village so there's not a ton of traffic or a ton of people like there is around here. Also, you wouldn't know it was a church, even if you were looking for it. It's not labeled or anything and it looks like all the other buildings nearby. It's literally a "neighborhood church" in that unless you knew exactly what it was, you would just think it was another house in the neighborhood. In fact, just as we were pulling up we noticed that in the home next to the church a woman was bathing her many kids and Mike remarked "Well, apparently this is a clothing optional service!" That was actually kind of beautiful - Jesus is for everyone, even the stark naked kids.
Once we arrived, though, a woman (who was the usher for the day, I believe) shooed a few folks out of their seats so we could sit down. I felt bad for making the folks move but I was also extremely humbled by their hospitality. Later, another mission group came to join the worship service and seats were cleared for them as well. It was also at this time that I realized just how nice everyone was dressed. I felt extremely under-dressed and I even wore some of my nicer clothes. It was so amazing to me that these folks living in tents with dirt floors still kept their Sunday best very clean. We asked Donette about that later and she remarked, "People take pride in themselves and how they present themselves. If they cannot control anything else, they can control that." Beautiful.
Although it was a VERY tiny building, it was a packed house. I would say that there was about 50 of us in the building and a few were standing outside listening to the service (mostly because we kicked them out of their seats!) Although the whole service was in Kreyol (Creole) it was still very moving. The kids looked at all of us white skinned folks with wide-eyed wonderment and wanted to shake all of our hands after the service. Also, the music was wonderful. Again, I did not understand any of it, but it was sung with such passion and joy it was hard not to be blessed by it.
After the service, as it was Mother's Day here in Haiti, the church showed us even more hospitality by offering everyone a glass of ice cold soda. Basically, the entire service was a great blessing and it was so wonderful to be around the joyful congregants at this church.
After church, though, we headed to the Kaliko beach resort. It is GORGEOUS. Beautiful water, tons of palm trees, white rocks all around, etc. IT was pricey to get in but it is a private beach and the price included lunch, two drinks, admission to the beach, and entrance to their pool. The beach was lovely (temperature wise) but it was not a sand beach and as I did not have water shoes, it was not a joy to walk on. I actually decided to just sit down in the water and move out that way. It was much easier. Not only were the rocks semi-pointy, but they were smaller, and very slippery because they were covered in some sort of algi. Not a whole lot of fun to walk on.
Shortly after we got in the water, though, a man came by and offered to give us a boat ride to the beach next to us if we wanted to see it. In any other place, this guy would have looked totally "sketch" and no American would accept a ride from him. He was missing two front teeth and he had shorts where all the stitching had come loose so they were crotchless. Donette looked past all of that, though, and thought it was a fabulous idea. Mike offered to pay and we were on our way! However, that short excursion turned into a two hour long ride and so I now look like a tomato. Sad day. But the boat ride was a ton of fun. We got to see many beaches, including one that was playing the song "Empire State of Mind" by Alicia Keys and Jay-Z. What was hilarious was that our Haitian driver knew the song and was jamming out to it as we passed by. I admit that I judged a book by it's cover... our boat rower (I guess that would be the right term?) turned out to be a ton of fun.
We also found a coral reef and Hal, the guy associated with UMCOR, really enjoys snorkeling so he had all of his gear with him to dive down and take a look. He even passed it along to a few others in the boat so they could check it out, too. It was neat. Also funny was that the boat guy jumped into the water, grabbed some coral, and threw it in the boat to give to someone. That would never happen in America, but I guess that coral is not protected here in Haiti.
After we returned from the boat excursion we swam in the ocean a bit more and relaxed a bit. A man was selling the biggest lobster I have ever seen and Donette and Oblami purchased it for us to eat. The men cooked it for us and brought it to us about 20 minutes later. It was DELICIOUS. So good.
Eventually, though, our day had to end. It was a wonderful day, though.
If you want to see some photos from the day, I have posted what I had time to post here. And yes, you can see them even if we aren't Facebook friends! :)
Sending blessings your way!