Today we gathered together with a group of Haitian pastors and church leaders. We began by introducing ourselves. We sang hymns, read Scripture, told stories, and then broke bread together. In the afternoon we visited a home for girls – House of Hope – and then traveled to Cite Soleil to visit a church.
While our activities can be listed, they are difficult to narrate. The stories before us here in Haiti are not our own. We have received many stories; histories of this country, personal accounts of its people, the collective memories of particular congregations, and the lives of the pastors who strive to serve their community’s well. How we might locate ourselves within, or in relation to, these stories remains a challenge.
Yet, we have met these stories in a unique way. We have encountered these stories as the narrative of a family. St. Joseph’s home for boys, the Cite Soleil and Blanchard churches, House of Hope, Trinity house, even the Mother Teresa homes are all a part of an interconnected community – a family – within Haiti. Each in their own way, they stand in witness to the Christian hope in both the possibility of transformation in this life, and that of resurrection in the life to come. And while it remains a challenge for us “blancs” to locate ourselves in relation to these stories, and these families, the invitation has been offered to us to find ourselves as a part – in some way – with these communities.
Our participation in the liturgy with local pastors this morning did not, nor did it intend to, run roughshod over the very real differences between a group of Haitian pastors and this group of American pastors in training. Yet our corporate participation in the Eucharist included a participation in a story that we do share in common. Along with our sharing of this larger story, we each received an invitation to participate in new friendships. What might it look like for us to live into a friendship with Haitian pastors through prayer and presence? What problems might geography, culture, and language present to our participation in such friendships? We are thankful for the example our leaders have provided for us. For them, Haiti is neither a trip, nor a destination, but a people – a family – and one that has become a part of their lives. We have met new stories in this place, new families, and an invitation.
Grace and Peace,