From the first day of the empty tomb until now, the story of God's Good News has not just endured, but expanded to the ends of the earth.
Yesterday, after I sent my last post, we spent time with some Dominican Haitians. Our first stop was at a nursing home where about 30 people live. These are mostly Haitians who spent their lives working in the sugar cane fields and, too old to work and with no family to care for them, find their home here. There is no government subsidy to supplement their care. All support comes from local Christian groups who bring them food and come regularly to minister to their needs.
When we arrived, people were lounging in the shade of a common area. We had brought staples--bags of rice and beans and bread--and came with hearts to bless these folks. We sang to them, held their hands, prayed for them.
One woman, a sassy gal with only one leg, spoke perfect English and was not shy about telling me what she wanted. She needed ONE NEW SHOE for her ONE FOOT. The only shoe she had was completely separated from its sole and she said, "When it rains, I cannot go outside." She also said,"Can you get me a cookie? And some juice? Nothing with acid."
I asked around, not sure if the things she requested were even available. They were not. I took my daughter and nephew with me and we walked a short distance to an open air store where we bought a little carton of apple juice and a sack of cookies. Our gal was thrilled when we returned and it was fun to see the delight of each person over a simple cookie.
From there, we traveled back to the mission compound, showered, and headed up to a Haitian church that was seriously in the middle of nowhere. The bus took us as far as it was able and we walked the rest of the way, perhaps a quarter mile, in pitch darkness over a stony path that may have once been a road.
We passed many houses where people sat outside in chairs in the dark. I clung to the arm of one of our boys and felt slightly alarmed at the remoteness of our location and wondered what we would find when we got there. The church in this Haitian vlllage was made of 4X8 sheets of plywood nailed to studs and covered with corrugated steel. The windows were just open frames, no glass or screen. Most people in the US have garages that are far fancier than this. But this stifling building is packed with smiling faces of children dressed in the best and ready for CHURCH. And now, today is Easter Sunday and we are worshipping with Dominicans.
First their was a long time of singing and dancing, of course. Then we all take communion together. I start to cry when I hear the pastor read from his Spanish Bible, "On the night he was betrayed, Jesus took bread and said--Take, eat, this is my Body broken for you." The tears roll hot and steady and unbidden until my shoulders shake with quiet sobs.
Despite language barriers, the Haitians and Dominicans we have been spending time with share something precious in common with us. Jesus. Our troubled world yearns so much for unity but unity can never come through politics, economics, education. We will never be unified in race or culture or government. This unity can only come through Christ and his finished work on the cross that we celebrate today. Oh, how we need him!
Those of us with much, those of us with so little--it is all meaningless apart from the eternal perspective we can get from the one who created us all. "To our God we lift up one voice, to our God we lift up one song, to our God we lift up one voice, singing Hallelujan," we sang both in English and Spanish. Never have words to a song meant so much to me.
After an Easter dinner of fried chicken and French fries, we loadup for a trip to an orphanage for disabled children in Santa Fe. Nothing could have prepared us for what we experience here.
Many children call this place home. They are the discarded members of the Dominican society--some of them found in trash cans or abandoned in the streets. There is a four month-old boy with Down's syndrome who was the most recent addition to the Casa de Luz family.
Our students interact with the many children of all ages, pushing their wheelchairs out into the sun, combing their hair, or simply holding their hands. We present the staff with a gift of money we brought along and pray for them. One student prays, "oh God, bless these women who care for these children who are made in Your Image. Bless these children that you love so dearly until we see them running and playing in heaven."
We have a hard time getting our kids back on the bus. There are many, many tears at our goodbye. For a day meant for much celebration in the church, our day today was one of many shed tears. The reality of how desperately we all need God has never been more real. He is RISEN! This is Esperanza, HOPE for all the people. We have much to be thankful for that He chooses us to share His love with others.