December 27, 2011

Grace Sunday


Copyright: Cheryl Weaver used by permission
Of the five days I was on the ground in Haiti, one of those days was Sunday.

A gentle wind lifted from the sparkling blue sea and made its way up the hill to rustle the leaves shading Canaan. It blew through window screens to wake us gently. I climbed out from under my mosquito net and started getting ready for the day.

The kids were gone from the dining hall by the time we made it to breakfast. They were off to their dorms getting ready for Sunday school. Later, we would worship together in the chapel.

We ate and were filled. The community blessed us with more than enough. They live like Jesus.

The pastor gathered the team of twelve into the office for a Sunday school lesson. Light filtered through the windows so that we had no trouble seeing him or each other, but I had to turn my Bible just so to read the words in the dark room. No electricity comes on during the day when the sun provides the light.

Pastor Henri taught us to pray----and to do so boldly. He shared his own bold prayers and reminded us to pray God’s Word. He testified that God answers when we ask according to His will.

"Send God's Word back to Him. God’s Holy Words do not go out without accomplishing what they were sent forth to do. Will you believe God? Will you allow Him to prove Himself faithful? Even the angels are working at the bidding of the Almighty to accomplish His works among his people.”
Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!         (Ps. 103:20-21)
I think of all the children and I tremble. There must be an army of angels that carry out God’s Word at Canaan. I had thought the shadows were from the trees, but I remember the wings that cover holy places, the tabernacle, the Mercy Seat, the throne of God.

Canaan is in the Shadow of the Almighty. Angels always attend His Holy Presence. We are covered---all of us.


We walk down the stony path to the chapel. Worship had begun and my heart quickened to worship in this place, with these people. Most of the songs resonating off the cinder block walls and the tin roof were sung in Creole. The best I could give God in worship was my heart and my hands. 

My hands would cause no stumbling and I was thankful. I held them high. On my heart, He wrote a new song--- a song of praise from the depths, silent on the earth, a shout of praise in heavens.

My hands were lifted high; my heart laid low. The room filled with His Presence. The children sang in harmony to the rhythm of the tambourine.
I didn’t deserve this blessing. 

Pastor Henri brought his sermon to the children and to the staff of Canaan Christian Community. Others among the worshippers had walked up from town to go to church. A friend from Canada stopped in to join the flock. And sitting and standing in the back was our team, the twelve who came to Canaan for Christmas. 

Sister Gladys (Canaan's matriarch) translated from behind us. Her voice lifted toward the sloped metal roof that returned the message to eager listeners. The Holy Spirit’s covering was upon us. (And isn't He always...) I took a deep breath, savoring the moment. I slowly exhaled, and with the release, lifted a prayer of thanksgiving to the One who whose Presence was so very near.

The team was introduced to the church. Some shared from our hearts the testimony God had given us for these people. My mind drifted heavenward to the things eternal. Did this have to end?

The kids exited quickly, but some of us lingered in the chapel. An elderly lady shuffled toward me, her smile drew me close. I bent to receive a hug. Instead, I was blessed with a sweet and gentle kiss upon my cheek. I felt loved, connected through Christ to this stranger who passed my way.

photo: Sarah Grace Featherston
After lunch, Sister Gladys wondered if it might be too cold to take some of the children to the beach. We laughed. It had snowed at home the week before and the temperature seemed to us to be somewhere near perfect. We assured her we would be fine.

Soon after, we loaded two trucks with 18 children---ages 7 to12 and headed to the beach. Only two of them could not swim. Still, my mother instinct kicked in. I spent the first few minutes at the sea as "the anxious head counter.” Soon I relaxed, gave in to the joy and the peace that encircled us. The twelve were at the sea with children. 

The boys hung on the necks of the men and the girls grabbed hands to dance in a circle singing the baby song “patty cake.” In and out of the water, the kids chased after crabs and gathered seashells. And they shivered in our towels until the sun warmed them and they were off again in search of adventure.

Copyright: Cheryl Weaver 2011-- used by permission


photo: Sarah Grace Featherston
The sun was warm, the water cool----- and more than once I looked around at all the beauty (a thousand graces right in front of me) and I thought of heaven. These children are held by Love and I am too.

The children gathered almonds from a tree. I gathered grace---every piece I could gather. I savored sweetness all day long, the big and the little graces, as much as I could hold in hands wide open. I don’t deserve this and I my soul knows it well. But I won’t turn away from the God who gives good gifts to His children. I receive with joy.

No one came near drowning except for me. (I won't speak for my friends. I am sure they were right where I was.) It wasn't water that had overtaken me. God plunged me deep into the abundance of his amazing grace. I was baptized in Haiti with new eyes, an enlarged heart, and a quickened spirit. So much grace…

We crawled into the back of the trucks as the sun lowered toward the sea. Making our way back to Canaan, the kid’s countenances revealed a happy tired. Salt residue dried white on brown skin. I knew they have stories but I am grateful that they live at a place called Canaan. Their lives hold promise.



Copyright: Cheryl Weaver used by permission
God----He is faithful.

The wind in my face, I shift my focus to my right away from the sea to the mountains climbing from the earth toward the heavens. Out of the overflow of my filling, my heart lifted praises to God---- the God who so loved the world had ordained that I would live this day in this place. 

It was a day of wonders among the weak who are strong and the poor who are rich. I had come to Haiti to be the blessing and I was---- and they were. And God is making Himself known among the least who will be greatest!
I am humbled. 

And He is glorious!

This was the day I will forever call "Grace Sunday."

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