Why go to Haiti? That is the question I heard both leading into and following our service trip to Haiti? Why did The Orchard Oxford send a team of ten people to Camp Mary, back to the same community we visited last year. Why? It is a good question. Let me tell a little story from our last day in the community and hopefully shine a light on the answer.
We pulled up to the church and it was quiet. Really quiet. A glance inside the one room building in Camp Mary revealed one man preaching to one man. As we piled out of the van there was a woman coming up to the church who greeted us on her way in. She just doubled the attendance. We filed in and took up the first two rows. The man preaching to the other man and woman was preaching hard. He was putting emphasis on his words and through Kednaud, our 410 Bridge team leader/interpreter, it was revealed that he was talking about how we are given discernment to know the difference between good and evil. Eventually he addressed the fact that our group had come into the space. He welcomed us and said that we were going to all worship together. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “But where is everybody else? Should we wait?” The man then walked over to the amplifier, calmly turned it on, and positioned himself behind the alter, and he began to sing.
It started with just his voice. It was an old voice. A voice with melodious pops and cracks. A voice with experience and feeling behind every word he was singing. Above all it was a joyful voice, a voice with an unshakeable happiness that emerges from within. He began slow and reserved. After a verse or two he gestured for us to stand. Upon standing I could see other people from the community walking through the open doors of the church. About this time a keyboard player and a drummer started to accompany the man singing. Pretty soon another man sitting to the side in front of us joined in by starting to clap, which made me and some of my teammates start to clap as well. All around us were people clapping and moving rhythmically to the beat. (Where did these people come from?) The rhythm from the drum and the melody of the keyboard seemed to energize the man’s singing. His voice, in all its character, was getting louder, faster, and he was moving with it. I asked my co-leader, Amber, if the song was getting faster because I seemed to be clapping faster. She nodded with a huge smile on her face. The man clapping in front of us walked over to the drums and picked up what looked like a stove pipe and a stick and rubbed the stick across the ridges of the pipe to the beat, with a double-time flourish every so often. Soon a boy from the community walked in to the room directly up to the drummer and joined in the fray by playing the cymbals. Another woman grabbed two wooden blocks and banged them together as the final accompaniement to this joyful chorus. The music was officially rocking. All around us the room was filling up with people, voices, movement. I looked around and the movement from within the crowd was infectious, my teammates and I could not help but clap, move our feet, and sway to the joyful noise. And with the signal of a single finger in the air, the man repeated the chorus one more time and brought the song to an abrupt end. What started as one man on a scratchy microphone ended with a room full of people adding what we could to make a beautiful noise to God.
As I reconsider the question that started this post that is what we are doing. We are doing what we can to add to the beautiful noise started not by us but by what has done for us through Christ. Yes we did things this week. We weeded a garden, we taught English, we sang with kids, we shared a bible story, we played games, we prayed in homes, and we even taught math (Yes!).
So, again, why go to Haiti?
Simply put, we went to Haiti to add to the joyful noise that is building relationships with the people of Camp Mary. Who are not strangers, not even friends, but family. It may be simply put, but not simply understood. If you want to understand ask me, look for future blog posts, ask a team member from either this year or last, or sign up for next year’s trip. Add to the joyful noise…