January 23, 2010

Listening In Haiti

 In my previous post on Haiti, I said that I would be blogging about my experiences in Haiti twelve years ago when I spent my summer helping a missionary friend.  This is what I emailed back home on August 5, 1998.

08/05/98.  This week was definitely my favorite week! We had VBS under "The Big Tree."  A man offered his front yard as the place where VBS meetings could be held. In the middle of the yard was a big grapefruit tree, so we set up under this tree. 

We had been told to expect about 40 children, but we had over 80 every day.  I didn't know it was possible for so many children to crowd on each of  those narrow, wobbly, wooden benches.  But, somehow, there was always room for one more! And did you know that if you set a chair over on its side, you can seat six children on it instead of only two? All those children sat nicely every morning, eagerly singing Bible songs and quietly listening to the Bible Lesson.

The "Big Tree" stands at a central crossroad. This is where the community well is located.   The Bible has stories about water wells, and I can envision those situations a lot better now.  A well really is the center of activity.  It's a social place. Everyone has to come to the water supply . . . for a drink of water, to take a bath, to do their day's laundry, or to just fill their water jugs to carry back to their houses.

While we were having VBS, there was a steady flow of people coming to the well.  They'd be curious and stop to listen to what was going on.  Women carrying oversized loads on their heads and babies in their arms  would come closer to listen.  Men who were leading their goats or donkeys down the path would stop and listen. 

I remember glancing over and seeing a young boy nudging his donkey over to the side of the path and then stopping to listen.  Other young boys, too old (in their opinions) to be counted as VBS children, still gathered behind the cacti hedge to listen.

And whenever a crowd of "extra" people (not only VBS kids) were gathered, then the Haitian workers would take the opportunity to invite the listening crowd to the first church service they were planning to have at the "Big Tree" on Sunday.

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