Tuesday, March 27, 2012
The majority of the team arrived home around midnight Friday night, but 8 others took a boat to La Gonave Island for the weekend (Bob, Linda & Jeremiah Stovall, Gary & Kathy Rinkenberger, Pastor Tommie, Ernie Manriquez and Nichole Grijalva). When they arrived on the island, Pastor Benis gave them a ride up the mountain to where his church and house are. The trek up the mountain is steep, rough, rocky and slow, the vehicle was swinging side to side, back and forth on the road. They traveled between zero and five miles an hour the whole time and they couldn’t understand how the vehicles could make it. It was an adventure, to say the least. “Haiti is an adventure, but La Gonave is another world…” Benis usually only travels the road (trail) about once a month, but because of all the special guests coming for the revival, he had made the strenuous journey multiple times in one week.
The revival had been going on all week and that night (Friday) a lady named Madame Marie Michele spoke. She is very well known in Haiti and has a fascinating but very strange story, a former child Voodoo priestess who is now a Christian…you can read more about her at the end if you are interested.
Saturday night Pastor Tommie spoke and shared things on his heart such as the theme verse, 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” He also shared about how there are other ways to serve Satan than just Voodoo and that Jesus being more powerful than the Voodoo spirits is not the only reason to come to Christ. He called them to repentance and shared his own personal testimony about delivery from drug addiction.
Pastor Benis really appreciated his testimony and asked Tommie to come back some time and spend a week, but Tommie doesn’t think he could handle that. For a tough guy, Men’s Home Director, ex- Marine, he sure was kind of wimpy on the island! LOL! (I would have been the same way though). He is amazed at what Benis’ family is doing and how they are sacrificing the comforts of the life they left behind in the US to be there, with their young children, faithfully serving the Lord and the people.
I have only talked to Tommie and Ernie so far…Tommie said he didn’t eat anything except a little fruit and the snacks I sent with him. He was scared to eat the food and when I asked him about the cow Pastor Benis had bought specifically for when our team came, Tommie said he couldn’t eat something that he had walked past numerous times as it had been hanging upside down from the tree outside the house they were staying in for several days, with its brains and guts hanging out, no matter how well they cooked it. Chef Ernie, on the other hand, said Benis’ sister, who had been a chef at a 5 star restaurant in Haiti, did the cooking for them and that it was amazing. He loved all of it and was amazed at how good it was. What a contrast – LOL! They both said that they were impressed at how homey Dominique had made it and what a wonderful hostess she was, always making sure everyone had anything they needed and presenting meals in a lovely way. The mattresses were also very nice and they slept well. There was no electricity or running water. Jeremiah worked on installing pipes so that eventually they will have running water from their rain-water catching cistern. After 2 days of no showers, Tommie & Ernie were stinky (I safely assume! J) and asked Benis if they could shower so he showed them where to get the water in buckets for a bucket bath. I was cracking up as tough-guy Tommie described how he would dump the cold water on himself, then after he came out of the cold water coma, he would lather up fast and do it again. Because of the no running water, it was recommended to go to the woods to “do your thing.” At one point they ran out of water so they had to send donkeys down to get water so they could bathe and flush toilets.
Hundreds of people walked for well over an hour, over rugged mountainous terrain, to be there for the services. When the service ended, it was quite a sight to see people departing on motorcycles, donkeys and on foot with little flashlights, out into the darkness. There is no excuse not to make it to church when you think of what these people would go through to get there!
6 or 7 different choir groups sang and led worship, which was beautiful.
Sunday morning, was an annual day of thanksgiving and offering. Pastor Tommie spoke again and Pastor Bob spoke too, sharing about why we are in Haiti, how this new generation of Haitian Christians will be the leaders, and how he rejoices because he is seeing the transition toward hope in Haiti and believes they are on the right track. People are very poor there and don’t have much to give toward the efforts of the church, but bless their hearts, they brought chickens, goats, various food items, goulds (Haitian money), etc. Over 200 people gave their lives to Christ over the weekend alone. Praise the Lord! They had a big feast after church and ate the rest of the cow.
We’re not sure where Louissainte is at…he showed them a document certifying that he went to seminary for 5 years, however he couldn’t answer a single question from Tommie and Benis regarding basic Bible knowledge. He’s a con man. However, he did participate in the revival all weekend with a good attitude and asked for prayer when he went home. He needs to be discipled and held accountable, so we’ll see.
Before they left, Pastor Benis’ little son, Benden, fell out of a hammock and cut the back of his head. They had to shave it and put butterfly bandages on it. Benis was visible shaken and stressed from the week he had just come out of. Please keep him and his family in prayer.
Bob also put in 5 posts for a future screened veranda for the guesthouse where people can dine.
On the ride down the mountain, Bob & Linda sang songs to keep people entertained during the difficult journey. The boat they rode home in was crowded and they got splashed. They went back to spend their last night at Lifeline. The next morning, Ernie had to leave early so Bob & Linda got up and made breakfast. Ernie, Tommie, Nichole, Kathy and Gary went home and arrived at about 3:30 this morning. Bob & Linda will come home tomorrow.
What a wonderful team and a wonderful, adventurous, fruitful trip. God is so good and faithful! What a might God we serve! Thank you for partnering with us in prayer.
PS – for those of you who want to read the story about Madame Marie Michele, as told by Tommie who talked to her, here is what I got…keep in mind that there are weird spiritual things in Haiti…
Her mother was unable to get pregnant so she went to a Voodoo doctor and there were 2 spirits named Marie and Michele who told her what to do. She conceived and had this baby girl and named her after them. At the age of 8, her father sold her to the devil. She went underground where Satan was and stayed there for a month. She made a contract with him – he would give her amazing power but at the age of 18 he would kill her. When she emerged, she had incredible powers and became a very young Voodoo priestess who the people feared and revered. At the age of 16 she had teamed up with 2 other girls who had killed their parents as a sacrifice to the spirits, when some missionaries came to her house and prayed for her against her will. They walked around her place, praying for her as she was inside seeking the spirits. The 3 girls got together and set a trap for the missionaries that would kill them when they left, but when they went through it, they didn’t die. She tried to figure out why it wasn’t working so she grabbed a knife and went to stab them in the back. A hand stopped her and a voice said, “Don’t touch them, they are Mine.” She went back in the house and asked the spirits why they didn’t help her and they replied that when the missionaries came into the house, they knew they were in trouble too. One of the girls got scared and went to meet with them, but when she came back, she died. The other 2 girls got scared and buried her body in the back. The next morning they found her head, innards and other body parts in her bed. At this point they were really scared so they went to talk to the missionaries. This is when she gave her life to the Lord. She told God that if He would just keep her in His arms and protect her, that she would tell everyone about Jesus. She is over 30 years old now and has been telling people about Jesus ever since. She is currently being heavily persecuted in her hometown so Pastor Benis is trying to come up with money to rent her a place to live safely somewhere else.