if the theme i sensed yesterday was hope, then the theme today was joy. while suffering leads to perseverance, perseverance to character, and character to hope, i think there must be a sense where hope leads to joy.
in the midst of such devastating heartache and desperate need, i witnessed joy break out multiple times today:
1. first, as we were driving through the city, we saw a church service taking place on a street. there was a stage set up at one end, and the street was packed with thousands of dancing haitians, giving praise to god. it was the kind of shear unpolluted joy that i have very rarely seen in my life. seth barnes, the adventures in missions director, has been traveling the world for 25 years, and has never seen anything like what we saw in port-au-prince yesterday and today. i’ll post a video of this at some point,when i have better bandwidth.
2. minutes later, we spent time in a small community where one of the pastors we’re working with is trying to bring some help. adam mclane and i spent an hour with the pastor of a small church (well, the building was small — it looked like it should hold about 100 people; but he said there are about 1000 people coming every sunday). he was a wise and grace-filled older gentleman, who’s own house had been damaged, causing him and his elderly wife to sleep in a tiny cube made of sheets just outside their house. the moment of joy came when we gave him a few packets of toiletries and supplies, as well as a few large bags filled with little bags of drinking water. he started to hand them out, and it felt like pandemonium. adam and i were both concerned that things were going to turn ugly. but then i saw the pastor’s face: he was grinning from ear to ear, filled with absolute joy at the opportunity to bless people with provisions they so desperately needed.
3. the third outbreak of joy came in a tent community we visited, which i posted about here.
4. shortly after this, i was in another tent community where some of our other team members were meeting with the newly formed community leaders to consider how we (and other groups who follow) could help. and as i jumped out of the truck, a guy came running up yelling, “marko! marko! marko!” i was a bit disoriented as to how someone here could know my name. but it turned out to be johnny, the young man i’d connected with at an outdoor prayer service the day before, showing him my tattoos (at his request) and explaining the spiritual signicance of them. lars rood, one of our team members, said later that i’m a “walking evangecube“. :) what a joy to somehow reconnect with this guy in a city of millions.
5. finally, as we were driving back to the missions compound where we’re staying, we got stuck on a street as a massive group — a parade, really — of dancing, shouting, and praising believers moved past us with banners that said: “christ for haiti, haiti for christ”.
wow, what a day. i have a new reference point for joy.