Sunday morning brought about great anticipation as we got ready to head to church at the Pillatre Christian Center. We awoke at 6 am to prepare for church. I hopped into the shower, which was to be military style: get wet, turn water off, soap up, turn water on, rinse. Did I forget to mention no hot water? Bad decision at 6 am.
Pastor Manno instructed us we were to walk to the end of the lane to catch a bus to church. The room was filled with trepidation. We need to walk where? Thankfully a young lady was to accompany us so we didn’t get on the wrong bus! An old yellow school bus stopped for us and we boarded, amongst curious glances. Our ride would take us 20 minutes to the south over terrain I have never experienced before in any motor vehicle. As we made each stop along the way, more beautiful people would board the bus. Smiles were shared, Bonjour greetings to strangers, yet brother and sisters in Christ, headed to the same gathering place to worship the same God.
We arrived at one of the most beautiful churches I had ever seen, tucked behind a gate, as an oasis to every soul who entered. Beautiful iron work adorned the open style windows. Mosaic tiles graced the front steps, and as we entered, that universal symbol that we all cling to for hope, forgiveness and grace, the cross, awaited us high above the pulpit. Are any of us really any different, one from another? We sat among fellow believers in Christ, worshipping with hands raised, voices joined and hearts aligned to honor the One True God. The first song began to play, our Haitian friends began to sing in Creole, and immediately we began to smile at one another, we knew this song. Our voices joined with theirs to sing the same song in different languages. Lifting OUR God’s name on high. Incredible.
The women were dressed in their very best, along with the men in their suits and ties. The children were dressed to perfection, with the little girls adorned with beautiful hair bows and lacey socks. The image was like nothing I had ever seen in a place so desolate. The images did not balance. The church stood in that place as an island of safety, plucked from the poverty around it, among the most beautiful people.
At the end of service, we got back on that bus, intended for 80 passengers, yet carrying nearly 125, headed to Pastor Manno's. With incredible joy our new friends, talked, laughed and visited along this crazy dirt, pot-holed path they called a road. We finally arrived at our destination, spending the remainder of the day team building and resting.
I reminisced about our day, trying to comprehend all I had seen and encountered. Monday would bring us another early day and a big day of painting and work.