Last month, three nervous yet excited St. Paul parishioners embarked on a week-long adventure in Grand Bois, Haiti with the local service group, ServeHAITI. Don Blough (a veteran Haiti visitor), Deacon Bob Shaw, and Tara Greufe, went with open minds, open hearts, and a three fold purpose: to provide help at the ServeHaiti Clinic, to find a parish for Saint Paul the Apostle to serve as a sister parish, and to get to know the people of Grand Bois.
After a ride up the scenic, yet bumpy, mountain “road” to the ServeHAITI clinic, we began our time in Grand Bois. Our first adventure was to attend Mass at the beautiful St. Pierre church. Although we understood very little of the Creole spoken at the Mass, we were struck by the great faith of the people, the spirited music, and the kindness and love shown to us as visitors. It was wonderful way to begin to get to know the people and to witness their love of God.
Throughout the week we served in many ways: doing electrical repairs, spending time praying with clinic patients, granting micro loans to entrepreneurs, assisting in the training of Haitian teachers, and playing with the children. We were also blessed to spend an afternoon with the St. Pierre priest, Father Beneche, touring the area and visiting two satellite parishes. Both of these parishes have rustic worship spaces with no electricity or running water, and yet when asked what they needed the most, the elders of each parish requested a rectory, so that traveling priests would visit more often. We were humbled by their request: what they needed most was the Mass. Our trip that day was not only humbling, but also a bit eventful. It had rained, and the road was very muddy. Our Land Cruiser became mired in the mud, not once, but twice. Each time this happened, we began to work at getting the vehicle out, only to find that within moments many, many Haitians would arrive ready and willing to roll up their sleeves and get down and dirty to assist us. The ServeHAITI staff call this the “drumbeat,” meaning that help is around the corner and it WILL come. We called it a “God Moment.”
We each had many God moments in Haiti, moments that showed us that He is present and working miracles each day. The faith of the people in Grand Bois, despite their great poverty, is amazing, and the love and kindness they showed us was humbling. The three of us each had different experiences that week, yet we all came away with a common desire to continue to create relationships with the people of Grand Bois. In the coming months, we hope to share more stories of Grand Bois so that the parishioners of St. Paul’s can better understand the faith, and also the great needs, of the Haitian people. We will be working on developing a sister-parish relationship with the satellite parishes, and have plans for showing the people of Grand Bois our love through Intentional Discipleship. If you feel called to help in the planning of this new initiative, please contact Don Blough at email@example.com.
The Haitians have a proverb that goes like this: Piti piti, zwazo fe niche: Little by little the bird makes a nest. We hope and pray that the people of St. Paul’s will hear the “drumbeat” and will roll up their sleeves and jump right in to get down and dirty to help the people of Grand Bois build their “nest.”