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Getting Back to the Heart of Worship

February 19, 2012

One of the things most sorely missing in my life since I came to Haiti has been a comfortable and spiritually uplifting venue in which to worship communally.  I have made others aware of my need, and many have been in prayer for me.  Today I discovered Montrouis International Fellowship.  My friend, Annie, told me about it during her visit last Sunday.  I will be forever grateful to her and to all those who prayed.

I wasn’t sure of the exact location, so I caught a tap tap a little early for the short trip to Montrouis.  Annie had given me fairly good directions and it didn’t take me long to find it, a quaint little church fronted with split stone veneer, with a bas relief cross in the gable end above the broad arch-topped iron door, and another in relief on the bell tower gracing the right front corner of the building.  The arched window openings are filled with decorative concrete block as is common here, in a sunburst pattern, painted pink.  Like most buildings in Haiti, the church could use a little TLC.  As I walked up the steep rough driveway I was welcomed by the sound of the worship team practicing a new song they were to introduce in the service—in English.

I entered to concrete interior walls painted in cream with green accents, and hung with artificial flowers, common church decorations in Haiti.  As I walked up the aisle, flagged with the same split stone as the front of the church, I was pleasantly surprise to find eight ceiling fans spinning beneath the corrugated iron roof; they would most certainly make for a much more comfortable service.  The dais is also faced with split stone and is fronted by a white concrete balustrade across its entire width.  There were only a couple of people in the simple park bench style pews, but before long they were occupied by about 100 people, very near the little church’s capacity.

It was such a rich blessing to worship and praise God in a service where I understood everything that was said and was familiar with the songs.  The sermon was delivered by my ophthalmologist, Dr. Kerry, who operates New Vision Ministries (see the blogroll in the sidebar); his message on what it means to live the Christian life was both challenging and encouraging, and would have been a credit to any preacher.   I learned that he comes by this talent honestly, being the son of a pastor.  Before he got into his message he explained that this was a new fellowship, only in its third week.  It had come into being to meet the needs of the English speakers in the area—missionaries, aid workers and Haitian nationals alike.  It is non-denominational, but certainly has an evangelical flavour.

The atmosphere was informal, very friendly and welcoming.  There were several people I know to varying degrees and I was introduced to many more.  A young couple led the singing with music provided by the usual guitar and organ pumped through a set of speakers far larger than necessary for the small venue.  Most of the songs were familiar to me.  The service ended with an invitation to an evening service, promised to be even more informal, sans sermon, and intended to provide a venue for those in attendance to get to know each other a bit better.

After church Annie invited me to her home to have a sandwich while she packed a picnic lunch and gathered up some of the kids from her orphanage for children with disabilities to spend the afternoon on my beach.  She spoke about considering starting a small English-language school and I told her of my intention to teach English to some of my neighbours.  I told her I was looking for a blackboard and she sent me over to see her next-door neighbour.  I came away with a large whiteboard, a gift from him for my efforts for Haitians.  He told me to check back with him in a couple of days to pick up markers.

We left for Pierre Payen with a cooler loaded with hot dogs and Tampico punch, a very sugary fruit drink that is hugely popular here.   On the way Annie picked up an enormous bag of packs of Chicos, the poor Haitian cousin (destitute in my opinion) of Cheetos.  We also picked up a couple of the nurses from Canaan Christian Community who wanted to spend the afternoon on the beach with us.

At my home the kids played on the beach and the other adults sunned themselves while I sat and talked to Annie on my gallery as she checked her emails on my laptop.  I agreed to accompany her to Saint-Marc Monday to set her up with the Internet provider I use so she can do this at home.  All emails checked and answered, Annie took me up on my offer of a walk down to the Pierre Payen museum.  All joined us for the walk down the beach.  The museum is privately owned, but usually open to the public.  The owners are not often there; today they were dining in their yard, but very graciously allowed us to roam through the grounds to view their extensive collection of cannons and nautical artifacts.

When we returned, Annie packed her kids into the back of her truck for the ride back home, telling me she had to cook supper for them all Sunday evenings as her help have the day off.  I got ready to return to Montrouis for the evening service.

A young Nicaraguan man with his electric drum kit had been added to the musical ensemble.  However, connecting his drums to the sound system turned out to present inordinate difficulties, delaying the start of the service by half an hour.  The evening centered around prayer.  Dr. Kerry talked about how our focus in prayer is often not talking with God, but rather takes the form of what we’ve always done, or is an attempt to impress the others present, and lacking many ideas of what to say, we often resort to a laundry list of everyone we can think of who is ill or is having problems.  Appropriately we sang Matt Redman’s Heart of Worship.  We prayed in small groups for the church in Haiti, of which Montrouis International Fellowship is one small part.

Squinting into the darkness to try to pick out a tap tap in the glare of approaching headlights, I was grateful for the day and the answer to prayer it brought.  I will definitely be in a pew next Sunday.

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

2 Corinthians 9:8

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