Post by: Jayme Hazen
Sunday morning came and I woke around 6:00am. Not wanting to wake up the rest of the girl in my cabin I slipped out the door wearing my PJs with my church clothes in one hand and my make-up and curling iron in the other. The goat path from my cabin to the church was slippery from the rain we had over night, so I did my best to walk carefully telling myself “kenbe ko w” (Hold on to yourself Jayme), praising God I didn’t fall!
When I arrived, they had the power on so I quickly plugged in my curling iron hoping for the chance to do my hair for the special service. To my dismay, only four curls in and the power went off. So, with my best sad face I asked our pastor to give me power for just 30 more minutes!
Haitian living is a little different than in the US. Privacy rules are not the same. My hair was done, my make-up was on, but I was still in my pajamas. I looked around and though I was in a backroom area, there were several people in there with me. The hour was quickly approaching when service was to start so as the rest of them were discreetly getting dressed, I too turned to the wall and did my best to keep myself covered yet change at the same time. After dressing I went outside to find pastor Tom and our interpreters waiting for me. We found a little food for breakfast, we mingled with others standing around waiting for service to start and enjoyed the morning sunshine.
About 8:45am the ribbon ceremony started outside the church. Pastor Jacques said a few words, we sang a song and scripture was read. After that our head contractor, Boss Frenel, ceremonially handed Pastor the keys of the new church building. After that the Superintendent of the Wesleyan Churches of Haiti along with Pastor Tom cut the red ribbon that was tied across the door way. Everyone cheered.
I was honored to be asked to speak at the service however it meant I was to sit up front on the platform. A place I was not too comfortable but was blessed. Service officially started at 9:00am and did not finish unit 1:00pm. The service was full of singing and rejoicing in what the Lord had done for the community of LaFond.
Our ears were blessed to hear the music from six different choirs. Each bringing their own flavor of musicality. The musicians played, the maestros led and the church clapped in thunderous applause when each choir was done.
We heard a vision of Hope from Pastor Meance’s father who stood before the church to tell of not only the history of LaFond but encouraging news about its future. The church is a symbol of new life for LaFond. A symbol of God’s blessings, of Hope, and of the bounty of God the father. He stood there proud of his son and proud of the community that worked so hard to accomplish this great task. He stood there tall and straight, at the age of 78 Papa Meance is a pillar in the community, one of the founding fathers of the region. He, himself along with a local priest were the ones that built the mountain road leading to LaFond many years ago. It is his vision, his vision of bounty and a good life for all those who live in the mountain community of LaFond, that his children carry on as they work together and with Reach Out: LaFond. He has never given up on the place he calls home. And we are honored to work with his family.
We heard a message of the church that Christ built by pastor Tom Schmidt. A message that says Christ’s church is all over the world. And maybe one day, LaFond too, will send missionaries into the world. We were reminded that even though the church building is beautiful, we are the real church. It’s us who make up the church, it’s us who must go out into all the world and make disciples of all men.
I also was able to share a word of encouragement. I reminisced about the time Pastor Jacques Meance asked me if I would consider helping him find the funds to build a church back in November of 2013, and how I quickly said, “No!” How I told him I didn’t know how to fundraise for $40,000 to build a church. I shared with them, that even though I said, “no” God had different plans, and God said, “Yes.” God had made it clear, this wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about what I could or could not do. He told me I didn’t need to worry about where the funds would come from, because He already knew. The only job I had was to be a pipe line. I raised my voice and said, “BonDye Fidel”, meaning ‘God is faithful’. I let them know, this is not my church, or Pastor Jacques church but this is God’s church. It is because of God alone that we were worshiping together that day. And we did worship that day.
We worshiped together as one enormous choir touting over 500 voices. The church on the Hill was heard all throughout the Mountain that day. The Holy Spirit swooped in and filled our hearts and souls with so much joy, love and energy that our bodies could not contain it… our hearts over flowed and the tears could not be held back. Pastor’s sister, Ghisline, said it so well when she wrote on her facebook page:
“When I walked through the crowd and got a peek at my brother, Jacques Meance, he was about to be handed the key to open the door of this brand-new church in Lafond! I saw him and something went right through me! It was like a celestial zap that commanded my tears to just flow! As I stood next to my father and my mother I tried to caress my mother’s hair as an attempt to ground myself. Her smile gave me enough energy to get inside as the ceremony started but the minute the choir started singing I surrendered. No one had a tissue so my dad’s white handkerchief had to be passed down to me. In this process my tears became quite contagious and traveled from me to my cousin Mirline Delima to my sister Emilie Meance who also had to use the handkerchief before it could reach me. I still don’t have perfect words to express what exactly triggered this emotional tsunami-like waves in me…in us! I just know that I have a brand-new energy field for visual imagery…enough to share with anyone who may need some!”
After the church service ended it was 1:00 in the afternoon. Pastor’s wife Shurley along with the 20 plus ladies who had been helping her over the past few days, had cooked up a feast for all the people who had come to celebrate with us. They split us up into five school rooms where we served ourselves buffet style. There was meat and sauce, rice and beans, pikliz, boiled vegetables, fried patties with meat and cheese in them, cake and more. I left the feast with a full belly and so did everyone else.
Not only was my stomach full, but my heart was too. I was content. The people I have come to love, were enjoying the bounty of God’s goodness and I was honored to be able to enjoy it with them. The afternoon was spent fellowshipping with friends and neighbors.
After everyone left, we started the clean-up. The school rooms needed to be cleaned and the benches put back in. The celebration was over.
Even though the celebration is over, it doesn’t mean the joy and the hope for tomorrow has ended. New things are already on the horizon. New hopes and dreams. A continued vision for a thriving community is alive and well. Watch out world, LaFond will be a mountain community to be envied. Not because of what we have done, but because of what God has done through us.