It has been more than six months since I journeyed to Haiti with Pastor Kenneth Duke of the New Jerusalem Primitive Baptist church (http://www.njpbc.org) of Miami Florida, His son Minister Kelon Duke and a a member of the church Saraita Anderson, who served as our interpreter. This was a life changing experience for me and I have struggled over the last six months with how to adequately express what I experienced on this short trip.
Haiti is a country of contradictions. It was devastated by an earthquake on Tuesday January 12, 2010. Many buildings were destroyed and many lives were lost but what I witnessed was a resilience among the people of that land. They were broken but not crushed. They were defeated but not conquered. They had lost much but they possessed so much more.
Haiti has remained in my heart and spirit from the first time that I saw it. We arrived at the airport on Wednesday June 2, 2010 and we were greeted by a band. I asked Saraita what type of music were they playing and she told me that they were playing Compas, a mixture of Spanish and french music. The music was so alive and the men who played it had so much hope and joy as they welcomed us to their homeland.
After we passed through customs and secured our luggage we walked out into the sunlight. And we were surrounded by a mass of people who looked like us but spoke in a language that I could not understand. We were met and greeted by several members of the Mount Olive Primitive Baptist Church of Petit Gauve where we would be traveling to that day to worship with and minister to. Guylaine Jermaine, the wife of Pastor Edner Jermaine was there to greet us along with several brothers from the church. Each one embraced us with hugs and kisses and then led us to the van that would carry us throughout Haiti for the rest of our trip.
A frightening moment occurred for me when we got to the van. We were surrounded by Haitians with their hands out, all saying very loudly, "Dolla, Dolla!" I was unnerved at that moment and tried desperately to get in the van away from what I perceived was a mob. And then I looked at Pastor Duke who was calm and not bothered the least. I wish that his demeanor had a calming effect on me but it didn't. I felt safe only after we were in the van. There would be a lot more moments like that for me as we rode through the streets of Port Au Prince.
Our driver Brother Vanel was very aggressive but that was necessary because every driver on the roads of Port Au Prince was very aggressive. There was chaos everywhere as both automobiles and people filled the streets and the sidewalks. What amazed me was I didn't witness any automobile accidents or people being killed as they walked with no fear between these vehicles. The driving situation was dangerous but there seemed to be some kind of order in the chaos. The driving was reckless but the people were bold as they walk with their wares on their heads. I seemed to be the only one panicking.
I saw large numbers of children coming from schools wearing beautiful uniforms and buses that are called tap tap. They were beautiful buses covered in painted scenes and filled with people. And in the midst of destroyed buildings I saw people selling their wares. They were living not dying. They were doing the best they could with what they had been dealt with.
It took us an hour to get out of Port Au Prince. It took us another hour to drive to Petit Guave and after that it took us maybe two and a half hours to get to the site where the Mount Olive Primitive Baptist Church meets. We rode for an hour and then we walked for another hour and a half. Several people from Mount Olive met us as we walked up the mountain where their village was. I really needed their support and encouragement as I tried to conquer the mountain that was conquering me. The music in worship was electric and the praise of the saints was energetic. Myself and Kelon gave words of encouragement and Pastor Duke delivered a strong message to the congregation who were gathered there. I made an presentation to the pastor, a cash donation that was raised by the members of New Mine Creek Primitive Baptist church where I have been the pastor for nine years. The monies would be used to educate the children in that community.The church, which was destroyed in the earthquake was also a school during the week.
There is so much more to tell and I will. But I ask you to continue to pray for the relief effort in Haiti and pray for the people of Haiti. If you are interested in contributing to the Mount Olive Primitive Baptist Church of Petit Guave Haiti please contact the New Jerusalem Primitive Baptist Church (http://WWW.NJPBC.ORG).