John had a number of plans for this trip to Haiti. Among them were: to build eight houses; open the clinic for business three times a week; get several orphans’ adoption paperwork pushed through; and put a steeple and bell up on the church.
Another plan he had for this trip was to educate the people of the village about the biblical parameters of marriage. He felt certain that if they knew what was expected of them as Christians, they would conform. Here in Haiti, the norm is a man can have more than one wife, no big deal. Here in Haiti, a little side thing going with the woman down the street causes a yawn. And living with each other without getting married is like a walk in the park. If you can’t afford a wedding, this is what you do.
Obviously John wanted to correct these and other notions. So he shared with me a couple of months before our trip that he thought it a good idea to bring someone in to teach the villagers the precepts of biblical marriage. We knocked around a few ideas about bringing someone in to teach, but finally settled on calling his long trusted friend and Pastor in Haiti, Charles Etienne. Surely he would volunteer to teach the class. After all, he’s a pastor and he speaks Creole! Right?
It was not to be so. Etienne had a busy schedule before our arrival and would not be able to take the time to prepare. I prayed about the situation and wondered what could be done.
I talked to John about it a few more times and he didn’t seem to be worried.
Well, I think you can already guess what happened. I decided, “How hard could it be to teach it myself?” So about a week before leaving for Haiti, I began preparing. What I was pulling together was pretty boring and I really didn’t think this was going to work. Just dry facts and scriptures were sure to put them to sleep. But I pressed on.
Once there in the village, I confirmed that Etienne was going to be my translator. I shared my notes with him and he encouraged me that it was good.
The first night we taught on what God asks of us in our relationship with our spouse. It went well, thanks to Pastor Etienne’s ability to add humor.
The second night we talked about love and learning the love language of your spouse. I told them that I love it when my wife makes me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, so we concluded the lesson with PB&Js. Had a lot of fun and laughs.
We concluded the last two lessons in one night. We talked to the youth about staying pure and waiting for the one God has for them. Then we spoke to the adults about the importance of the marriage vows They needed to be married or they were living in sin. Then we spoke about adultery. I didn’t know what to expect afterward.
After the first week, I had a man who is a leader in the church ask me to talk to his wife because she went to a different church and he wanted her to submit to him and go to his church. I told him to love her into submission. “Surprise her with your love for her. Ask her if there is anything she would like you to do for her. Be sure, first and foremost, that she knows you love her. Find her love language and speak it to her.” At the last meeting, she came with him!
The day after speaking on the requirement that you could not have sex until after marriage, I learned one of my favorite Haitians in the village, who is in his 50s, was very upset with me. His “wife” insisted that she would not sleep with him until he married her and proceeded to sleep on the floor instead!
The night before I left Haiti, there was a business meeting about important matters concerning the water system and caring for their house. All of the villagers were in attendance. At the end, John suddenly decided to ask if there were any couples in the audience who would want to get married if he supplied the wedding dresses, jackets and ties and provided food and refreshments. A very long fifteen seconds passed before the first hand went up. In the end we had eight couples commit to get married when we return. Unfortunately, my friend was not among them. But I am praying that he will change his mind before then.
Now to find eight wedding dresses!
After learning of the wedding plans, some friends of John jokingly asked their seamstress daughter if she happened to have eight wedding dresses hanging around. She did! She was eventually going to sell them on ebay, but now plans to come to Haiti for the event and alter the dresses to fit our brides! WooHoo! Anybody have eight suits and ties?
I have not given up on my friend. I expect another wedding dress will show up because plans change in Haiti. You never know . . . we may need a lot more dresses.
Oh! I can already hear the new bell in the new steeple a ringing!