This written by Josh and Paige Konoza, of Pittsburg, PA. They were married in August and decided to go serve with MH4H in Haiti for their belated Honeymoon. This is both of there first time traveling to Haiti.
To View Day 1 Entry
To View Day 2 Entry
To View Day 3 Entry
To View Day 4 Entry
To View Day 5 and Day 6 Entry
To View Day 7
(Editor’s Note from Tim Brand. I applaud Paige and Josh for digging into the culture to gain an understanding of where most Haitian’s are coming from. In order to make path corrections, we need to determine and understand where people are. Vodou is absolutely intertwined into the Haitian culture, so much so that it is part of many traditions without even acknowledgement of where it came from or what it stands for. The Truth (Bible) needs to be spoken, read, and understood in a pure form, not with the lies of Vodou attached to them. We remain steadfast in finding the best ways to be about the Truth and present it in a way that will change lives. The Light is stronger than the Darkness. Read the information presented, as it is good to understand, and be assured Jesus is stronger than any demon, spirit, or Vodou power present.)
So to be perfectly honest and frank today, on Christmas Eve, we didn’t really do much of anything. We kind of took a day and relaxed with Fransly and Beatrice. So I thought I would take this time to expand on a subject that may be slightly touchy, but in turn you can’t discuss Haiti without talking about it (I will explain why in the following couple of paragraphs). That’s the subject of Haitian Vodou, let me preface this by saying that I am NOT in any way shape or form an expert. I am basing the thoughts and opinions I have on what the people of Haiti have told me during this trip. I also have read a book while I was here by Alfred Mètraux so aptly entitled Voodoo in Haiti that I got some proper spelling for this blog post. As best as I can tell this book has to be close to 75 years old so I don’t know if much has changed. Now off to the quick the history lesson…
Vodou essentially, in it’s simplistic form, is based off of West African Vodun. This was the main religion of the slaves that were brought to the french slave colony of Saint-Domingue, most specifically the slaves that came from the ancient West African kingdom of Dahomey and the Yoruba people of what is now modern day Nigeria. Followers of vodou or servants of the spirits, that is to say in french “vodouisants” and in kreyòl “sèvitè” respectively, believe that there is one supreme being named Bondye. However, he is too busy to be concerned with us and thus fallen angels known as “loa” or essentially spirits are those that are prayed to. The loa thus are the ones the act on, or at times against, mankinds behalf. Believing that the loa are from this main god, and because Bondyè is “good”, then these loa must be “good” as well. Although some of them are ill-tempered or vulgar, they believe that they all have their necessary place in the spirit world. Without delving into things too deep, because that’s not the ultimate point I want to get at here although I feel it’s necessary to “know thine enemy”, there are numerous families of loa that all take the same surname and have their purposes from love to war to water to death. These spirits have followers that pray to them, incant them, and provide them offerings.
Here is the tricky part, it’s nearly impossible to talk about the people of Haiti, for better or worse, without talking about Vodou. It’s engrained in their culture and who they are. The Catholic Church tried, rather unsuccessfully, to stamp out Vodou throughout the country from the 1700s onward. The many french revolutionary leaders and the bourgeoisie of Haiti were fervent believers in this. I read one story in which a Haitian general had one of is charms enchanted so he would not be killed by a bullet. He so believed in this that he had one of soldiers shoot him on the spot, the bullet killed him instantly. This religion has been the unofficial national religion for centuries. Vodou has a way of infiltrating every aspect of the Haitian’s life, as vines and weeds will entangle and intermix with everything in their vicinity. So much so that there even grew a mélange, or mixture, between Vodou and Catholicism that created almost syncretistic religion . Men and women would faithfully go to mass on Sunday, when they had just been at their “humfo” the night before dancing for the loa, and upon returning home place their hymnals next to their fetishes in their bedrooms. The Holy Sacraments were taken not because of what it meant spiritually in regards to the true Lord Almighty, but rather because many saw the “magical” benefits that God was bestowing upon them. From the hungans or mambos, the vodou priests and priestesses, would invoke the spirits with recitations that include calling upon the Father, Son, Holy Ghost, Mother Mary, the Saints, and the loa. With such quickness and rhythm, I’m told, the mambo will switch from the purely Christian to the Vodou and back without a falter in steps. The portraits of the saints would become in many a Haitian’s eye a portrait of a loa. Where Demballah-Wedo, arguably one of the most worshipped spirits, whose vèvè or symbolic symbol are two snakes would come to be represented by portraits of Catholicism’s St. Patrick. It took some time for the clergy to realize why they were blessing so many paintings and portraits. Many a time a sèrvitè would try to escape the wraith or vengeance of the loa by converting to some form of Protestantism. It was seen that these forms of Christianity were bastion’s from which the loa could not affect them, but as soon as their “luck” changed they quickly recanted. They in turn would return to Catholicism because many believe “You have to be a catholic to serve the loa”. Ironically enough we are here in Pignon, for not only the largest Vodou holiday and arguably the most well known Christian holiday…Christmas. It seems that both the birth of Jesus Christ and the day in which many vodouisants create and prepare their enchantments falls on the same date.
So here’s the question we have to ask ourselves, how do you defeat an enemy that essentially is within your midst in a major way…
Love, kindness, and forgiveness in my opinion…using the words and actions of Jesus as a beacon and guide. There are several things I want to clear up before the end of this post. I don’t want everyone to take away from this blog post that there are no real Haitian Christians. That couldn’t be further from the truth and I believe in my heart of hearts that I have met several of them. Another thing is that I don’t want people to believe that all sèvitè are evil people – misguided would be the appropriate term in my opinion. Just as every and any religion has shown unfortunately, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc., there are bad and evil spirited people. All we can do is pray that they come to see the light of Jesus Christ in their hearts and help them in whatever way possible to show them that there is something different in us. That something being that we were saved by the blood of the lamb. If someone were to ask me if Vodou was real I would have to respond with yes, because Satan is real. Satan has power, nowhere near that of the Lord. However, he still has the ability to use his tricks and his minions to do his bidding. Now are there con artist as well? Of course, just as every religion has their fair share of someone promising that some great will happen to them as long as they pay for this service or pay for this item to be blessed. I’m a believer that there is an invisible holy war going on each and everyday for our hearts, and I have to imagine that Haiti is a campaign the devil is trying to win. With that being said, I think that Haiti needs to be blanketed in prayer by the followers of Christ, no matter which denominations they follow. And that people and organizations, such as MH4H, continue to show the Lord’s love and kindness to the many people of Haiti. So that the battles for the hearts of this nation are won…