I don’t even know where to go with this today. Today was not like the last few days. Today was long, it was very hot, very hot, until evening. It was full of every emotion, as much as I don’t want to admit it, today continually revealed in me much of my own hard heart – there would be times I cried, and times I wasn’t even fazed by the poverty and brokenness – there were times I just wanted out of Haiti (which is typical for me on a mission trip, for some reason on day four or five I usually hit some sort of a lull but am out of it by the evening). Sometimes I wonder why there are some things that make me cry and hurt when I simply come near and then there are other devastating things, that I react to as if you just told me you stubbed your toe, “that’s just too bad…” – not cool! To be honest, I just dealt with that whirlwind of emotions all day, I felt like when I would pray, I was talking to a wall, not God, and I couldn’t keep my mind still – at all.
Then Tent City came, and it came undone. For the sake of the blog length, if you want to know more about the Tent City we went to, click HERE. If you don’t want to know too much more, let me just say this – J/P HRO is the largest Tent City in Port au Prince, it houses more than 50,000 people. I’m using the word, “houses” very loosely, they are tarp-tents on dirt floors – 50,000 people in tents… So, we arrived, to go to church with them – come to find out, they don’t normally have a Friday night service, but found out we were in town, so they had service for us to join. However, before we had service, the team split up and toured the city – devistation, poverty, anger, tension, stench – Dustin said, that the feeling in the air, was so tense, that it seemed as if something were to go wrong the place would explode in a deadly violent riot. Nathan said, you feel so much spiritual warfare in the place, like the air was just thick. They were right, now compound that with tons of humidity and heat and people who eat once every other day, and you’ve almost made the mental journey to picturing this place.
One of the teams that went out was Nathan, Lamar, Jill, and Justin, and actually got invited into a single mom’s tent. They said, that they thought it was hot outside, but the moment they walked in the tent, sweat began to roll off of them, one even told me, they guessed the temperature in the tent was around 130 degrees – this was her HOME! Anyway, they had a chance to talk with the lady, pray with her, and Jill talked to her about her greatest need, and to all of this, the lady was able to find some glimmer of hope and say, “this kind of life, this situation, this living condition was unacceptable…” In other words, she had hope for a better day – today we were all truly surprised by hope. That being said, she was doing her best to make something out of nothing. They said she had hung pictures on the tent walls, put a clock in the tent, and did her best to make something out of it. Obviously, what can you do, nothing tangibly, so they asked if they could pray for her, and so they did, and they said, as they were praying, in the tent next to them, came the sound of the Creole version of, “It is Well With My Soul” – in the midst of the heat, poverty, lack, and uncertainty God made his presence known in a way they will never forget.
After the tours, we showed back up at the church 30 minutes before start time to pray, people slowly began to show up, and the music started – and the people began to worship like their life depended on it, it was breath taking! Then Pastor St. Cyr asked the team to come up and introduce ourselves and bless the congregation with a short word – I started with Ephesians 1:11-14 (probably my favorite verse right now, I lean on it a lot) anyway, getting up to speak, I didn’t want to, I didn’t feel like it, in fact, I thought, “how in the world can I say anything to bless these people?” So, I felt pressed to simply remind them of the gospel, to remind them of where our hope is, as one people, and that hope is the gospel as spelled out in Ephesians 1:11-14 (and many other places)… I loved it, the lull had ended… But that wasn’t the best part, the best part was when I sit down, and my crew went after me – Lamar, Jill, Shonna, Nathan, Jeremiah – and that was it for me, my eyes filled with tears each time one of them got up, and expressed their hearts to the congregation – tears of joy, tears of pride, tears of humility, that God would give me such a gift to be a pastor, friend, and family to this team, and that I am able to do life with them… as a pastor I was so proud of all of them, knowing I don’t deserve to help pastor any of them, as I’m sure I’ve learned more from watching my team this week than they have from me…As a friend, because, really, who gets to be friends with these types of people, I mean really, they are amazing and I love them. And as family, well, like I said on the first post, my brother and I have been through a lot of life together, but never anything like this together… so I close out day five with a heart of joy, and a full soul, humbled that God would allow us to see Him more clearly in a place like J/P HRO (Tent City)!