March 3, 2011
It was another world. We traveled outside the city of Port au Prince, about a one and half hour drive. It seemed like we were on another continent. It felt like a different cosmos. Our experience was totally new from last year where we lived in the earthquake ravaged capital city.
Our trip to the village of Merceron was a total shock. This is what we saw. I will just give you a list of things and let you absorb it the way we saw it when we were there.
Women carried water in buckets on their heads. The burros in the village carried rice, beans, bananas, potatoes, sugar cane from the fields. Children played naked all around the village. Women and children bathed in the gray ditch water where they also washed their clothes, let their pigs wallow in the same water, and cleaned their bicycles or anything else they thought could use a good dousing. Women cooked over open fires, burning sticks and bushes gathered from the fields. Villagers ground their corn in the same manner as people did in the Bible days. They also beat their piles of bean bushes with a long stick until the pods split open. Then they collected the beans after they had fallen to the ground. They scooped them up and separated them from the dirt and prepared to cook them later on or whenever needed.
Some of the villagers openly worshiped the religion of witchcraft and followed the high priest of Voo Doo. Their village life took us back hundreds of years to any primitive civilization you would read about in an anthropology book. However, among the villagers we surprisingly found a few people with cell phones and a solar panel like the 80 year old gentleman who seemingly knew how to use it as he held it in his hands when we visited him in front of his house.
Our team visited from house to house in the village and became acquainted with these very gentle and congenial Haitian people. Even the family of the high priest of Voo Doo welcomed our team into their home. Christian believers in the village were well-mannered and carried huge smiles on their faces. (Except when being photographed they put on their best sober look ). The genuine believers in Christianity dressed with cleanliness and admirable demeanor. These Christians lived in sharp contrast to those who were still in Voo Doo or those with no faith in the living God.
Our team came to the village bearing gifts of medicines, soccer balls, clothes for children and adults, self-generating flashlights, and great hope as we shared God's love with everyone in their bamboo with mud-covered homes. The team also shared stories of faith at the worship service outside under an awning that was ripped and torn. On the family day of activities many villagers from all of the area showed up to see and hear from the unusual Americans.
There were a surprising number of Christians in this outcountry village but some were clearly not interested in the message of Christianity or a hope for a new way of life. One stern looking man after hearing about Jesus said "What will you pay me to become a Christian?' Pastor Ron responded that Christianity is not about money, it's about faith. He told him that faith in God would change his life and solve his problems including money problems.
The members of the Cornerstone Mission Team included team leader Dale Grenie, Justin and Nina Fischer, Pastor Ron and Pam Payne. Team members on this one week venture stayed in a very nice guest house (motel) on the outskirts of the capital city of Port Au Prince. They enjoyed wonderful meals which consisted of Haitian delicacies such as goat meat, sea food from the conch shell, white fish from the bay, chicken prepared Haitian style. They were also treated to tropical fruit juices of six different kinds of trees which grew in the area. The freshly squeezed treats were guava, papaya, mango, passion fruit, and an unusual citrus drink offered up each morning for breakfast.
The owner of the motel, Gerard Chatelain often said to his guests "when you go home if you weigh less than when you came, I will refund your money." He was joking of course but all of the meals were very excellently prepared so that Americans with delicate stomachs would not get the dreaded "tourist disease."
Cornerstone plans to send a team again to the same area this time next year. They will be under the excellent supervision of an experienced Haitian national Pastor Marc Hancey of the Merceron village. It is a trip of a lifetime for those who are willing to experience the power of God in a very primitive culture. God is alive and well and clearly stronger than the Voo Doo high priest or his temple in the Merceron village.
~ Pastor Ron