It is quiet and I walk and think about this being my last descent to the Church of Hope. I had wondered while I had gotten dressed just what I would experience. I had prayed that I would be open to worship and to hear from the Lord, not distracted by my self or any one or any thing else.
I hear the singing and it is lovely - the song about that good, that great day when Christ washed my sins away. It is a breezy and hot morning. I pause outside of children's church to wipe off Matthew's face (he's one of our preschoolers). He had fallen and had dust all over his face. I ask if he is okay. He isn't. I ask if he needs something. He shrugs. Maybe water? Yes.
Face wiped, water drunk, fist full of plastic forks and spoons (who knows?? he's a little boy!), spring in his step, he goes back into children's church.
I walk down the sidewalk to the church, circle around and enter through the door closest to where our kids sit. It is a full church today, not a lot of empty seats and our kids are scattered in their section with the rest of our church family. I walk up the aisle to find a seat and decide to sit near the front of the section. As I make my way there I see Linda.
She is a dear lady with a house full of boys. Whenever they are around I sit with her and Ralph, her youngest, who is very tiny for his few years but is such a sweet boy. He doesn't go to children's church. I wonder if he is too small. He sits with his mom and munches on crackers or cheesies and usually has a nap.
I hadn't seen Linda since before Christmas, and at that time she was expecting.
Today she holds her tiny new daughter!
Born exactly 6 weeks ago, little Isou (her name is something close to that and with my glee I don't write it down!) is wrapped in a baby blanket, snuggling with Linda.
Of all the gifts on my last day of Sunday church...!
I hug Linda twice and tell her how happy I am to see her on my final Sunday.
And how happy I am that she had had a little girl! She grins and nods in her charming way and we just stare at the baby for a while.
I sit with the three of them and, without protest when offered, hold baby Isou for most of the service.
Linda has had some difficulties with her pregnancies and usually has the babies early - I guess that's why Ralph's so tiny too. Linda is a sweet and loving lady. She is very thin herself but she takes great care of her kids. I met Linda's husband last summer. She was so pleased that he came to church and was introducing him to all her friends. I haven't seen him since then.
During this time of endings in my personal life I sit and soak in the feeling of being loved and blessed with the gift of cradling such a precious new life.
I listen to the preacher (a guest from Compassion International whom I'd met last summer when he did a seminar with our teens... no comment), and we sing the brilliant Creole songs that I've come to love and I weep at the thought of my sad (as in pathetic) lonely voice singing them alone in the weeks and months ahead - there is something about corporate praise and worship here in Haiti that whets one's appetite for the heavenly praise and worship that I anticipate will be part of our forevers.
And the Spirit keeps whispering, as I study Isou's face, "Behold, I am making all things new..."
Which is from the book of Revelation (21:5).
Where we learn that there will be a new heaven and a new earth and peace and love will rule, and our Saviour, who went through death and came back, has covered it with his blood. And He covers us.
And He calls us out.
Out to new things, new places, new seasons; yes. But ultimately to Himself - to a rebirth IN Him who makes everything that is old and tired and worn and broken and used and ugly and dead... He makes it NEW:
and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
And suddenly I tune in to His gifts again.
And I am humbled (again) by the beauty and gentleness of the Creator (of everything - including beginnings and endings).
And, though it feels long and drawn out over these weeks and days, it is somehow more okay to leave this place and this role and this season and these people.
Now, come and gaze with me...