The most important person for us in Haiti this year was Gregory. You met Gregory if you were at the service at Immanuel in November when he attended and brought greetings. Gregory is a bridger, meaning that he bridges the language gap and the culture gap between us and our Haitian friends. We initiated him when he started in January 2015; we were the first group he guided. Now we also ushered him out as this was his last group. He moved on to another job at the end of March.
Part of Gregory’s job was to drive us everywhere. A pretty easy job in Canada; another story in Haiti. We have some video to show you if you want a small taste of it. Gregory was also our translator. He had to take what we said (including the Sunday morning sermon) and translate it into Creole on the fly. He also told us what everyone around us was saying. Along with translating language, he tried to translate culture. We bugged him because his favourite answer was “I don’t know”. It is likely that our culture caused us to ask questions that would not occur to him to ask. For example, why are there piles of stone everywhere? Often the answer synonymous with “I don’t know” was “That is Haiti”… it is just the way it is. Gregory was with us every step of the way; he was fun, and helpful, definitely unobtrusive (I use that word because when he reads this he will probably have to look it up) and a good patient guide (except after the fourth flat, but hey). We were glad for our time with Gregory and for his gift of himself and his time with us.
The second most important person to us, in terms of time, was Fevrier. His name means February even though he was born in July. Fevrier was the moderator of our discussions with the church groups. He did a great job warming everyone up and drawing them out so that from total strangers from another land, we became aware of our partnership in the gospel and our sharing in Jesus’ love. Fevrier’s easygoing manner and humorous style made the meetings work well and endeared him to us throughout our time in Jacmel.
A key player in our relationship with Jacmel is Pastor Elihu. He is the lead pastor of the Siloe congregation and the long time president of the ECRH (CRC Haiti). Previous Haiti teams know him as the foreman or boss on the building site. He, like most or all pastors in Haiti, makes his living from another occupation. Pastor Elihu is the founding pastor of the Jacmel church who planted or partnered to bring the number of ECRH churches in the area to 4. Those who know him from the building experience know him as a hard working and serious man. We had the privilege of being in many group conversations with him and driving with him and hearing him interact with his colleagues. We saw his wonderful sense of humour, his full body smile, and we experienced his warm embrace. Pastor Elihu is a passionate, hardworking, authentic man with clear leadership gifts. It will be a privilege to work with him moving forward.