Rick Ireland, Sun., Feb. 7

It is Sunday evening, and I am reflecting back over my day. I was up about 5 a.m. I don’t know why but I can’t seem to sleep past 5 a.m. here in Haiti. Some personal quiet time with God and then some breakfast and then I was heading out the door when my phone rang. I was planning to attend the 7 a.m. service at the Delmas 53 Free Methodist Church, spend the day with friends, and preach at the monthly 4 p.m. Communion service. But I am in Haiti, and there has been a change in plans. I was now scheduled to preach the morning service. The drive to church was quick as there is little traffic on Sunday morning.

I got to the church about a half hour before the service, and they were setting things up for church. How different than Nash Road FMC (North Tonawanda, NY). There I would get to church about 45 minutes before the service started, fire up the sound and video system, make sure the heat is working and hey presto, I’m ready. At Delmas 53 the church building is not usable at present due to the earthquake. The church is meeting in their Christian school courtyard. During the week it is filled with tents but early Sunday morning they take them down, clear the courtyard, hang some tarps to shield the congregation from the sun, set up the sound system from scratch and hey presto, worship happens.

The service itself lasted three hours; that is an hour longer than usual. You can’t blame the preacher; I didn’t stand up to preach until 2½ hours into the service. The amazing thing is, it seemed like 15 minutes. I didn’t understand most of the words, but I heard the heart, and the faith, and the strength.

Here comes Wizner. He was with the choir that came to Western NY a year and half ago. He is a tall, thin man with a smile as big as the outdoors. “Pastor Rick,” he said and shook my hand and made me feel so welcome. It was only later that I found out that both his businesses were completely lost in the earthquake. He had just taken out a loan to start the second one, purchased a building and stocked the store and was getting ready for the grand opening when the earthquake changed everything. There was no insurance. He lost everything but the debt. And he raised his hands, and he worshiped God with clear joy in his heart. Tonight he will sleep in the courtyard with his family. They don’t even have a tent.

And I saw that all around me, as close to 400 people, poured into that courtyard. These were people who lost their homes, their jobs and loved ones. They opened worship with these words from Psalm 95, “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord: let us should aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.” And then they did just that.

I came to help them. I am beginning to learn that they have more to give to me than I them.