Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sundays

Sundays are probably the hardest day of the week for me here in Haiti. I think the main reason for that is that Sundays were the greatest day of the week for me in the States.

Nick and I had been attending our church, Crosspointe, for almost 10 years when we moved here. This was our church-- not the church we grew up in, not the church our parents made us attend. Our church. When we were dating we started looking for a church, and that's where God lead us. So we were there for all of our married and engaged life. And we were very involved. I spent a season (about three years) working at the church before we had children. Nick and I served in children's ministry together for 9 years. Nick was an elder at Crosspointe for a year and a half before we moved to Haiti... It sounds so cliche to say this, but it wasn't just our church, it was our family. Our very best friends went to church with us, and we invested much of our lives (all of our adult lives) in this place. If you asked us three years ago where we'd be the rest of our lives, we would have said in central North Carolina, because that is where our church is.

But then God called us to something different. And it's the COOLEST thing ever. I love our lives down here in Haiti. I love the kids I get to work with. I love our team. I love it.

But in my heart, I still really miss my church family back in NC. I miss weekly teachings by Jonathan and Steve. I miss worship with Stephen. I miss serving in Kidspointe with Kris. I miss my kids LOVING their children's environments and coming home bubbling about what they've learned. But mostly, I miss seeing my huge "family" every week.

And church here in Haiti is very different. It's great and it's a big family here too. They love each other and they love Jesus. But I am just not really in that family yet. And it's not in English. I do pretty well with Kreyol these days, but for whatever reason, at church (maybe it's the sound challenges), I get maybe 10-15% of what's being said in a message. Probably less than that with the songs. I try very hard to engage in the worship and the teaching because I do long for this to be "my church." But my heart leaves frustrated each Sunday, having not understood most of what was happening. (But I do get hugged and kissed by at least 200 people every Sunday-- so they are definitely trying to "embrace" me in a non-language way.)

There is a great children's church. Sandra and Nixon do a great job of teaching the kids. And it's interactive and fun. My big kids (Nia and Nico) really like it. All the songs are in Kreyol. And we're learning all the songs, so that's fun. And Sandra does the lesson in English and then Nixon translates it. So that's a real bonus for my kids who aren't fluent in Kreyol yet. I am excited about the prospect of working with the Altidors-- writing curriculum and teaching again...

But the real kicker about Sundays is that Josiah is a bear. For what ever reason, Josiah HATES Haitian church. And any of you know who know Josiah know that when Josiah doesn't like something, he doesn't want anyone else to like it either. It's just kind of his nature. We also attend an English church on Friday nights too. He hates that as well. He cries and struggles generally through the whole thing, necessitating at least one (sometimes two) of his parents removing him from the service and walking outside with him while he cries and whimpers, "I WANNA go HOME now. I WANNA go HOME now."

This has been something Nick and I have really, really struggled with. Do we make him sit through two and a half hours (at least) of church on a Sunday morning? He is only two years old. So do we keep taking him in and out and in and out every Sunday morning? (And Friday night too-- but that's only an hour, so not as bad.) Do we just suck it up and stay home? But then how will he learn to sit still if he's not forced to from time to time?

Our "working" plan (it's not really working that well for us, that's why it's in quotes), is that we (Nick and I) rotate being "on" Josiah. We have different ways of administrating his care. I'd just rather stay at home and not even attempt going. It's just going to make me frustrated with Josiah, with church, with the world... (I tend to be a bit melodramatic... but yes, I do get mad at the world. Often.) When Nick takes Josiah, he generally sits downstairs with him (in the adult service) and just gets up and leaves when necessary, and then comes back, and then leaves, and then comes back. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

It makes Sundays pretty un-fun.

But, this too shall pass. In two years or less he should be ready for children's church, we should speak Kreyol fluently, we should be more involved, know people better... I know this is a stage. A stage I want to embrace and savor, as this is the ONLY time my kids will be THIS age.

But in the meantime...

Any thoughts on making our Sundays NOT suck?

7 comments:

  1. We arrived in Chile two years ago when our youngest was two years old. Sundays were also very stressful for us, as he rejected all the attention and affection that would suddenly be showered on him by all these strangers.

    We didn't stop taking him but did try to "prep" all the kids each week before going, reminding them what was in store and encouraging their good behavior and even rewarding them when they did a good job. Unfortunately we moved again after just a year and half and had to start all over again, but the transition was shorter the second time around.

    If it might encourage you, you can read one of our Sunday experiences here:

    http://garcias2chile.blogspot.com/2009/01/first-sunday-frustrations.html

    It takes awhile, but in the end being consistent and positive will pay off. I know it's hard! I will pray for you as God brings you to mind.

    Sincerely,
    Stephanie

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  2. point of info:
    melody has the same struggle with evie every week! must be in the genes :) (sorry!) i think it comes fro daddy's side!
    have you tried tictacs or other forms of bribery??
    or a special little car or toy that he can only use in church?
    this is a season, it will pass. sorry i am not there to help you :(

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  3. Melody,
    I cannot give you advice on your son, but I do understand your frustrations with church in Kreyol. I am fairly fluent in kreyol, I translate for clinics and other work teams that I travel with to Haiti. However, when it comes to me understanding the sermon on Sundays I get so frustrated because I get nothing. Then I become even more frustrated with group members who become quite upset at me for not being able to tell them what is going on, but if I stop my listening to translate what little I understand I get even less. I think that when they preach they get so excited they get faster and faster. I will be praying for your church kreyol to grow stronger chak jou.
    Courtney

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  4. I am just loving your blogs! Please don't quit writing them! I am a friend of the Pye's and have been to Haiti twice this year and fell deeply in love with the people there.
    I don't if it's possible but if it is then maybe 2 or 3 toys that Josiah hasn't seen before and may have interest in can be "Church Toys" and if he behaves he can play with them in church only. It may help for 15 or so minutes! lol
    I hope this helps! I am so blessed by your writings and you daughter's too. What you are doing is what many of us here wish we could do. Your light of Jesus is shining so bright!!!
    Thank you.
    Terri H.

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  5. i miss worshiping with you and nick too. each service i have my "go to" people who encourage me by their outward worship expressions. you were those people for years. can't wait to worship with you again in haiti in a couple of weeks.

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  6. I think what your husband is doing is good. Eventually he will be able to make it for longer stretches.
    Until you get to a point of being able to sit through the service and really getting something out of it...we have been downloading sermons through itunes and into our ipods (you could just go to websites and listen online too)because we have been searching for more than what we are experiencing on Sundays. Our favorites are from "Forefront church NYC", "Forefront church Virginia Beach" and "Cornerstone church Simi Valley CA". All of these you can subscribe to for free. Great sermons!

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  7. I just want to give you a big hug. I know what you mean. When I went to college, I attended a church that was Greek.. mostly immigrants... Greek was the vernacular. The service and sermon were in Greek, and people could not understand why I would be there if I didn't speak Greek. But the people were welcoming. The yayas (grandmothers) would smile at me and the priest would welcome me. Over time I worked on techniques to help me cope with not understanding. My job was a little easier than yours because all Orthodox services are the same not matter what language it is in. The sermons and REALLY long readings always got to me. Sometimes I even started to fall asleep. In those moments, I would remember that I was not coming to church in exchange for some sort of "fullness" payment. I wasn't going there because I selfishly wanted God to give me something for my time. I was going to church to worship our Creator. I was going to church because it was the place where I could stand before my God and say "here I am" ... too often I went to church DEMANDING that God fullfill all the needs that I thought I had. I wasn't going to church for Him, I was going to church for me. "Oh Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me a sinner" At the same time, I needed to engage in the worship.I developed the skill for guessing sounds and lip-reading... so that I could sing a long. I sang along and worshiped even though I didn't know the words. God knows my heart even without the words. Slowly, my frustration at not knowing the songs slipped away. Sermons were harder. For the sermons, I brought my Bible and just worked on it. If the priest showed ANY sign of the section of the Bible he would be preaching out of, I would flip to that section. I would really study and pray those verses. If I couldn't figure out the sermon, I would find my own verse, or go over my prayer list, or take the time to seriously pray over the people around me. Not only did that help keep my mind from wondering.... it helped draw me in to the community. I don't care that the Yaya sitting next to me didn't know I had just prayed for her, I felt much more attached to her because I had just spent time praying for her. Instead of feeling like an outsider standing in the middle of a large family, I slowly connected with one person at a time. And I discovered something about myself. It was not the people in the church who were distancing me, it was me myself who was building walls around myself. I felt out of place because I felt more comfortable that way.I was afraid of loosing my identity...my identity in my own culture/church. I was afraid of loosing my uniqueness... oh it is so ridiculous. For the first six months or so, I embraced the very things that made me uncomfortable. God also established the Church to feed and love on His unique peoples. I am one part of that Body who happens to speak English... and maybe a little French. Yaya speaks Greek. But the Heart of this Body is the same Heart. I had to teach myself to hear that Heartbeat ... even without the words... coming back to the heart of worship. It NEVER replaced my home church... where my heart still soars :) When I graduated from college, I didn't want to leave my beloved GREEK church community. It took almost two years of frustration... but God had grown me to love the Sunday worship there.

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