SUNDAY 14TH DECEMBER 2014
The sense of dislike that pervades the air between the Dominican Republic is evident is morning as we made ready to cross the border into Haiti. We had carried a number of suitcases with clothes for the Haitian church with us however these were still in Dajabon and we were to take them with us into Haiti. I was expecting some difficulties at the border however the problems started at the door of the hotel. Pastor Rolex, aware of the larger than usual consignment of stuff, had brought with him a Haitian with a Tuktuk style truck (basically a three-wheeler motorbike with a pick-up body on the back). He also required a motorbike taxi to carry us on the Dominican side of the border, however when the Dominican driver discovered a Haitian was going to be carrying our stuff in his vehicle on the Dominican side he remonstrated and made the Haitian go bck over the border so that he could get the business of carrying us and our bags as far as the border in his beat up Toyota minibus. This set-too took about 20 minutes to resolve making us late. When eventually we made it across the border, having paid our visas we still had to find a hotel and get our luggage stowed before going to church. We stopped of at a hotel lying behind the main street on entry into Ouanaminthe however it was expensive $80US/room/night (which is more than 4 nights in our hotel in Dajabon). We had little choice but to agree since it was to be for only one night and we were already very late for church.
The church service was already well under-way by the time we got there. It was packed to the door with about 500 people and many more were standing outside. We were ushered on to the platform where seats had been reserved for us. The first thing I noticed was the intense heat generated by this mass of people under a low tin roof; the place was like an oven. I understand from Woodsy that it much hotter in the summer months. The preacher was in full flight, we weren’t sure if we would be doing any preaching or not, but due to the lateness of the hour we did no more than pass on our greetings.
The church service was followed by a BIG meal, But not before we were presented with wooden gifts made locally which was a very nice gesture. First lots of needy kids from the area were fed, followed by the adults too since this was a special occasion and we had extra funding for this special meal. The meal was followed by the distribution of clothes we had carried with us, some for adults and some for children. Of course there wasn’t enough for everyone but that didn’t seem to upset those who did not get something. We made sure the kids all had sweets so that they all got at least something small. At the end of all of this we went back to our hotel room for a rest as the people continued to eat and those who were finished drifted off home.
A ‘Crusade’ (a lively Gospel presentation where many people gather) had been arranged for the Sunday evening and son after a lazy afternoon catching up on our thoughts, the plan was that we would be taken to the crusade. However it was now raining heavily. Although at times you can’t hear the rain falling you can hear the difference in the ambient noise. Everything except the traffic goes strangely quiet as people shelter indoors to avoid getting wet. The singing, the shouting, the crying of kids, even the barking of dogs is dimmed to silence and when it stops raining the noise level increases again to limits more normal for the community. The rain however was a problem for the crusade. Would it go ahead or not. Time passed and we were now convinced that Pastor Rolex would not come for us. Richard, in his infinite wisdom, decided that, in the same way as when you don’t carry a raincoat it is bound to rain, if he removed his shoes to settle the matter we were not going out, that Pastor Rolex would arrive within 2 minutes. With some disdain I watched his vain attempts to voodoo the pastor into action, when no more than 2 minutes later there was a knock at the door and Pastor Rolex hurriedly requiring us to follow him to the waiting motor bikes. The crusade was as expected for such a Christian community. A set of Christian hymns and songs were already well through by the time we arrived. We were shown to plastic garden chairs on the wobbly jammed stage where an electric band was playing, not too loudly but very well. As we watched it was clear when the preacher had arrived. With a swoosh of presence a stalky, well dressed, white bow tie-ed, loud checked jacketed and white beshoed gentleman swept in with his meek, gracious looking wife and ‘minder’ (a suited strapping gent who carried the preachers bag and made sure he had water when necessary) followed smartly behind. The preacher got up and with all of the sweetness of a Corncrake with a heavy cold began to sing and preach for about the following hour. His white towel in hand to wipe away the perspiration produced by his high level of on-stage activity made him fit the profile perfectly. Slowly the rain, which had abated to allow proceedings to get under-way, began to begin again, some umbrellas began to pop open in the 800-1000 strong crown who had gathered in this basketball pitch with bleachers around the sides. Pieces of polythene and other simple bits of protection also appeared which was the cue for the event to be wound up. No altar call, no lengthy wind up and soon we were back aboard the motor bikes and back in our hotel room for the night.