The only way to describe today would be "special." Very, very special.
When Oge first asked if I wanted to preach this morning, I was... unsure. (Obviously, if you've been reading this while I've been here you know that already.) I talked to my mom that night, though, and asked for her advice (as she preached five sermons in Tanzania last summer). She gave me some verses that she thought were good and she said, "Why don't you just try to write something tonight? If something comes to you and you find it's easy to write, that might be a good indication that God is at work and you'll have something worthwhile to say."
Well, I will say... the Holy Spirit showed up. Oge arrived this morning with a tap tap he had borrowed from a friend (so we wouldn't have to pay for transportation - w00t!) and we took the winding trip up the mountain to his mother's church. (She is the lay pastor of that congregation.) It was neat to go into this back area that not many "blan" (foreigners) travel to. It felt like the real, authentic Haiti.
We arrived a bit late, but quickly found a seat and joined in the singing. WOW. I have been in many Haitian churches, but they sang two songs this morning that were... so energetic, so loud, so joyful, that I couldn't help but smile when I was singing it. (Even though I didn't know what the lyrics were saying!) They also do a neat thing where the person leading prayer would say "Okay, we're going to pray for ___________. Let's all pray together." Then, each person would pray, out loud, their own prayer. That was a Holy Spirit moment for me - hearing all of their voices lifted up to God all at once. It was a holy noise.
As the last part of the service, I was introduced and Oge and I walked up to the front. My main theme of my message was that God has not forgotten Haiti. God remembers Haiti. It was somewhat of an emotional sermon for me to preach in some ways, but it was just... awesome. Having the opportunity to talk to a whole room of Haitian people and to say, over and over, "YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN," was special. I can't really explain it. I just felt so blessed. I didn't get video of the sermon, but I do have the sermon written down and I'd be happy to pass it along to anyone who wants to read it.
After the service, I said hello to Oge's sister again (as I had met her once before) and I met Oge's other sister, brother-in-law, nephew, and mother. That was also joyful for me. I had heard so much about them and it was exciting to put a name with a face. Oge's brother-in-law also has a lot of leadership within the church (and he speaks English!) and he told me, "I hope this is not the last time that we'll see you." I told him that I was sure I'd be back to visit sometime and he said, "Good, you can preach for us again. We were happy to hear you this morning." Whew! God showed up! And how fun to have a standing invitation to preach at a Haitian church? :)
Once we had taken a few photos and greeted everyone, Oge and I went back down the mountain to visit the site for his new home. He is currently living in a rental home, but he thinks this permanent home will be finished in September. And I'll tell you, I believe it! It's two stories high - 3 bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room and a kitchen. It doesn't have the roof on it yet, but the frame is there. I'm THRILLED for him and I think the design and location of the house is really great. I'm hopeful that it will be done by September for him to move there with his family.
Oge and I completed our "Sunday of fun" by having lunch at Brasserie Quartier Latin, one of my favorite places in Petionville. We were going to go to Karibe Hotel and go swimming and such... but as we had heard the weather was going to be gloomy, we changed plans. We had a lovely lunch out on the back patio area where there was a live jazz trio. It was cool, relaxing, and just... lovely. Pizza, chocolate mousse, amaretto sours, live jazz, and good company... what else could a girl ask for?
It was just a wonderful, special day. I feel blessed to have such a close Haitian friend that welcomes me in as part of his family. Sometimes I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I am already dreading the goodbyes that will happen on Wednesday.
Also, tonight is Sarah's last night. She leaves tomorrow morning. :( Sarah was my replacement when I left and I have been BEYOND thankful for her and her hard work here. It is thanks to her that things like the bracelet program have been able to continue and thrive among other things. I am grateful. It will be sad to see her go, but I am certain that Danette is going to do an amazing job in this position as well.
Beyond that, not much else has happened today. Tomorrow will probably be a pretty "down" day, too, but I will HOPEFULLY be able to see Oge's daughter, Laura, which will be a special treat. Also, the bracelet kids will be back to meet Jean Claude which is great. There's always something in Haiti. :)
Blessings to each of you,