There it was. After the hour-long trek up a forty-degree angle formed of kaliche in the back of a trailer, we finally reached our destination. A village’s church at the top of a mountain in Jeremie, Haiti awaited us, beckoned us even. Warm, crisp voices wafted out of the doorless shack of a building like the fresh-baked mango oatmeal we ate that morning wafted from the oven. Our team of weary travelers passed around the package of wipes in attempt to remove the thick layer of dust lying dormant on our skin and making our hair look prematurely gray. There was a collective sigh of relief from the dangerous trek, grateful to be on top of the peak rather than inches away from its edge dangled by a rusty chain. We were able to really look into our surroundings now, as opposed to glancing over them on the way. I could have sworn I saw Julie Andrews serenading Mowgli from “The Jungle Book” amidst the brilliant green of the mountainside. We nodded “Bonjou” to a few unclothed children standing sheepishly near and made our way inside of the tiny sanctuary, roughly the size of my living room (if you’ll excuse the ironic comparison).
A smattering of diverse voices intermingled with one another in the air and decided to travel all the way to our happy ears. The entire congregation oozed enthusiasm as they crooned hymns in Creole to the steady rhythym of a young boy’s drum. We crammed ourselves onto a few “pews” (wooden blocks suspended on cinder block) and subtly took out our cameras in efforts to capture these beautiful, cherished moments in Haiti. The pastor stood at the podium and introduced us as American missionaries and led the congregation in a few more songs and prayer, the latter which astounded us. Their prayertime was a sea of prayer- each voice pleading with God all at the same time. I actually forgot to pray because I was so enthralled with all of the voices passionately calling out as separate yet one. I realized that God must hear that all of the time- people all over the world, pleading and praising, all at once.
Our group was asked to share a testimony or song, and so my friends and I stood at the front with a guitar and mandolin and taught them a song called “You’re Beautiful” that has a chorus of simple “ooh”s. They caught on quickly and we all found ourselves drowning in a myriad of cross-cultural music, singing “Ooh, You’re beautiful” to the same God despite so many differences. I had the opportunity to share a song I wrote, and as I began I made eye contact with the little drummer boy, Sonell, and asked the translator if he would mind playing along. He obliged me tentatively at first, but in time he was pounding the most intricate rythyms and bringing my song to life. I cannot begin to articulate the joy I felt making music with that five or six year old Hatian boy, Sonell. I will always keep him in mind when pursuing my music, remembering that I am so wildly blessed to pursue it at all when there are people so poverty-stricken that the extent of their musical talent and education will probably be playing a drum in church.
J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “The road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the road has gone, and I must follow if I can, pursuing it with eager feet, until it joins some larger way where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say.” Those winding, rock-laden, Haitian roads led me to various moments which have led to endless cognition and changes in my life. There is no way to measure their impact, and for that I am eternally grateful.
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