(from Sunday)

Well, here we were again, standing up in front of a crowd.

At this point Bill and I have gotten pretty used to introducing ourselves in front of large groups of people. After numerous classrooms and training sessions, introducing ourselves yet again in front of Renia’s church was another opportunity to try explaining, in 100 words or less, exactly what we were up to in Haiti.

The church was mainly standing except for the back of it, which was completely knocked out. A USAID tent covered the new sitting area, with the pastor and assistants seated just before the beginning of the church’s roof. As they stood among what used to be their clean church floors and was now rubble, the preacher smiled at the two white people in the area and handed us a couple of Kreyol/French bibles. After introducing ourselves, we melted into the church’s chorus of song.

I had never been to a church outside of my own Catholic services. I knew it would be fun attending church in Haiti, and what fun we had! Clapping, dancing, singing, laughing. In the middle of the service, the pastor broke out his English. “Bill,” he said, the audience turning to us. “You can take pictures if you want!”

I nudged Bill and we both laughed. I had just finished berating him for even thinking about bringing his camera. “This is church!” I had said. “NO PICTURES!”

During the various sermons given, people laughed about their lives and their situations. It was refreshing because I was nervous that the two white people might be elephants in the room. Maybe people would be worried about having to tiptoe around the subject of money and foreign aid. Yet we were all smiles. The minister suggested young couples to get married now while they didn’t have to pay for a house since post-earthquake Haiti favored the much cheaper tent alternative. The house burst into roaring laughter when he mentioned a time when U.S. soldiers gave him food and he generously gave it to his neighbor, who graciously accepted. Then he discovered not long after that the neighbor had received just as much food from the soldiers as he had!

When everything was over, a large number of people came up to us to shake our hands and to thank us for coming. The minister came up to us and spoke English. He told us he was so grateful for our program, especially so soon after the earthquake. He made it known that Haiti needs our help now, and not later. Because we have come during such a sensitive time for Haiti, we are the true fighters.

And so, 40 computers down and three weeks to go, we keep up the fight.

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