This blog is written by Cindy Gritters, Tanner VAn Maanen, and Dave Gritters. They are currently serving in Pignon, Haiti, with the Calvary Christian Reformed Youth Group of Pella, IA.
As a worship coordinator for Calvary, I always love visiting other churches to participate in worship at other churches. We visited Bebe’s church this morning where they reserved the first two rows for us as guests of honor. The choir and soloist sang 2 beautiful songs, one verse was in English for us. We had a bird’s eye view of the instrumentalists…three trumpets, one clarinet, keyboard, and xylophone. So much of their service was familiar…Blest Be the Tie that Binds, Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow, Beautiful Savior, and When the Roll is Called Up Yonder. Two beautiful babies were baptized this morning. Two sets of proud parents with beaming smiles. Just like home. Other parts of the service were completely new to me like the doorkeepers which reminded me of the tabernacle doorkeepers. They even had long sticks to block the doorway until they gave us entrance. Also, there was someone to patrol the aisles looking for sleepy members and gently gave them a shake to wake them. As the preacher spoke in Creole, I imagined what he was saying to the congregants. His eyes were kind and pleaded with them to take care of each other and the children. It was a small glimpse of what Heaven might be like when the all nations, tribes, and tongues will praise the Living God with their whole hearts. ~Love to you back in Pella
Going to church in Haiti is a true blessing. There is absolutely nothing better than being able to worship the Lord of the Universe with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. However, there is one minor problem that sometimes gets on my nerves: the language barrier. As a Creole student, I know a little Creole, but not nearly enough to follow along during a chruch service. At one point during the service, a group of singers were singing an amazing song, and as I listened I did everything I could to make out a couple words. At these times, I look forward to the unity in Heaven, which involves no language barrier. To my pleasant surprise, one of the verses that they sang was in English. It was almost as if a prayer had been answered; it was such a blessing to be able to understand what their praises were saying. I have been to church in Haiti a few times before, but it is always a highlight of the trip because of their joyful, emotional style of praise. Another highlight of my day would be visiting the orphanage. Bill and Jennifer, who run the orphanage, immensley bless the town of Pignon by raising Christ-like to be leaders in their community. While we were there, Bill informed the group about two boys, ages 12 and 15, who had been blind at birth and born into a voodoo-centered family setting. The family was extremely poor and in order to eat, the boys would attend a feeding program that was set up by the orphange to provide food to those in need. Through the orphanage, these boys and their family came to know Christ, and three months ago, they both received cataracts surgery in Cap-Hatian. They are currently living in the orphange and serve as an example of God’s faithfulness to the people of Haiti. The beauty of Haiti and its people never ceases to amaze me. Whether it be the magnificent stars at night or children kicking around a soccer ball, God’s presence can be seen everywhere. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for the trip.
-(DJ) Tanner Van Maanen
Today was special for me at church. When we went to church, they had the 2 front rows reserved for us – like a place of honor. I thought that in most US churches we do what we can to avoid sitting in the front. But here they wanted to honor us by giving us the best seats in the house! I was surprised when they asked me to get up and address the congregation about our group and what we are doing, that was unique for me to speak to a group of people through and interpreter with about 5 seconds of prep time. But the most special part of the day to me was going to Haiti Home of Hope Orphanage, a place I have visited before. On the last trip we met 2 young brothers who were blind and praying for sight. Ronnie, one of the orphanage parents, told us that these 2 young boys have more faith than he ever dreams of because when he met these boys they told him that 2 things they pray for, sight and to live at the orphanage. They have had cataract surgery 3 weeks ago and have limited sight. It amazed me more when the ophanage director came later and was talking with Cindy and myself. He told me that when he met these boys they were malnourished, had long dreadlock hair, – witch doctors kids. Through the feeding program, these boys came to Christ and then their entire family became christian and have rejected voodoo! Bill has also said that he has never seen the faith and joy and daily worship of Jesus as what these 2 young brothers bring to their home. It was a joy to watch the youngest of them be able to play soccer with his walker and now 1 good eye! I video’d that and anxious to show that to our Feb group that came here.