Tuesday, November 5, 2013

HAITI :: Making connections

In the Duplan church
How is it possible to be so moved by a nearly 3 hour church service in a language you don't understand? This is the question that we've been mulling over the past day since our visit to the Duplan Methodist Church, Haiti. 

Picture this: the church sits near the top of a steep mountain, surrounded by a clinic and pharmacy, an elementary and secondary school, parsonage and neighborhood of houses tucked away among the brush and trees. Beautiful tile and gates lead into the sanctuary. Humble wooden pews are lined up to the left and right. Brightly colored balloons greet the community both at the doors and the front of the sanctuary. A balcony spans the front of the church and holds a piano, keyboard, drum set, and enough space for a 60 person choir!
The Duplan church
The clinic and pharmacy
The school
Sixty beautiful, energetic voices make up the Duplan Children's Choir. And our team was there to enjoy their 1-year anniversary. Their voices pieced the warm air, blending with the swaying bodies, electric guitar riffs and keyboard melodies. What a blessing to be a part of the community's celebration! 

So, how do we connect with people we've never met (and don't even share a language)? 
  • We smile or wink at a child.
  • We shake hands with an adult while looking them straight in the eye.
  • We hug and plant kisses on complete stranger's cheeks.
Hana and her new buddies
For Hana, it meant playing hand games with children across the backs of pews. Almost silently, she connected with child after child, eliciting tiny giggles and happy smiles by being present with them and playing silly games.

Making friends in Duplan
For Sonya, it meant inviting a small girl from a crowded children's pew to sit next to her in a much emptier pew. The child shyly slid into the seat between two "blancs" and held her tiny purse tightly. Every few minutes she would shuffle through the contents until finally she found what she wanted: a purple lollipop. When she couldn't open it, Sonya gently took it, peeled off the paper (which had melted to the candy) and handed it back to the child. An almost instant bond was formed! The child snuggled up to Sonya and enjoyed the candy through the service. Periodically, she got up and found her mother a few pews behind, but always came back. Following communion, she even grabbed Sonya's hand and led her back to her seat where they could sit together.
No grand gestures. 
No hand-outs. 
No material gifts. 
No "things". 

These are the ways we connect. These are the ways we begin to build relationships. This is what The Red Thread Promise is all about. 

Child reading the tiniest Bible we've ever seen!

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