I got up this morning, washed and fixed my hair and face and then donned a dress to go to church. I am not sure I remember the last time I did that, but it actually felt good! We piled into the truck and went to a local Haitian church to worship. We entered a room built of concrete blocks, filled with those same scarred wooden benches, adorned with colored strips of cloth hung as banners across the room. The people's dark Haitian faces wore a sheen of perspiration, as mine soon would as well. The men's white shirts shone brightly in contrast with the darkness of their skin. The women were dressed in simple skirts or dresses and many of them wore a covering on their head. It was oddly comical - and touching - to see everything from actual lace caps to handkerchiefs to bathcloths with Japanese writing on it used as head coverings. One lady wore a beautiful sort of lacy mantilla. She looked so beautifiully modest. I decided then and there that if I ever need to cover my head in worship, I want one of those! The air was hot - it is almost always hot here - and still, as they did not enjoy the benefit of either air conditioning or even a decrepit ceiling fan to cool the air.
And so I sat, with sweat running like a river down my back, fanning my face, and watched, and listened, and learned. As the soft, yet indescipherable sound of their Creole language washed over me, I struggled to figure out when to sit, when to stand, and when to say "Amen". At certain points they would all raise their hands and wave them. I don't know for sure what this was about but I timidly lifted one hand and joined them.
There were four kinds of instruments in this church - a set of drums manned by a serious looking fellow, a guira played by another percussionist, their hands, and of course their voices. The worship leader was a passionate man who had the most joyous expression on his face as he led, his arms spread open wide, or his hands beating out a rhythm, his voice raised in exhortation to worship God. Imagine my surprise when I realized that I knew a song they were singing. It was an old hymn that I used to love to sing. I had not sung it in years but today I lifted my voice and sang in English as they sang in Creole, "He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock, that shadows a dry, thirsty land. He hideth my life in the depths of His love, and covers me there with His hand, and covers me there with His hand."
As the service proceeded on, I stood to take communion and was surprised to sing several other familiar songs including "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder" and "Just a Closer Walk With Thee". Except for the color of skin surrounding me and the difference in language, I felt for a moment as if I'd reverted back to my childhood when we sang these same songs so often.
Since I couldn't understand any of the preaching, I had lots of time to talk to God. In the simpicity of that service I felt a freedom I have not felt in a long time. I felt the rest of God.
As we walked out the door and were wished the blessings of God, I felt a deep joy.
It was a good day.
Watch the video below for a taste of what the worship was like:
**All you worship leaders go check out The Give Worship Project. This is why I'm in the Dominican.**