Our Travel Team had a wonderful first day getting settled in to Labrande. Sunday Mass is a major event in the community, and some people walk over two hours through the mountains to attend. The music is beautiful with a Caribbean sound made by bongo drums, keyboard and saxophone and an energetic choir. Fr. Effener introduced the team and invited Bruce to address the congregation in English while he translated into Creole. Fr. Effener thanked Nativity for helping to support the camp for the children.
Mass lasted close to two hours and then everyone was ready for lunch of rice and beans with shrimp. There was a dessert of fresh orange and banana juice over shaved ice, a refreshing treat in the heat of the day. After lunch, the team walked through the village, escorted by Jean Rouvens -- a graduate of St. Anne's school who is known by previous Nativity missionary teams. Jean Rouvens now attends secondary school in the city of Gonaives, about 45 minutes away, and is home for the summer.
Although the team had been prepared for the conditions of this poverty-stricken mountain village community, the reality is more stark than they had realized. Many of the dwellings are little more than small cinder block structures with a tarp. Yet, the parishioners came to Sunday Mass in crisply starched and ironed clothing, after walking a long distance to get there.
The team will turn in early tonight and attend daily Mass at 6:30am, before the children arrive for the first day of camp at about 8:30am. They practiced more Creole with Fr. Effener and Jean Rouvens so they are ready to meet the children.
Keep praying for Bruce, Carol, Connie, Erin and Jen as they connect with the children, animators and teachers tommorow. You can also leave them encouraging comments which they will be able to see here on the blog. Check back for more updates on our team soon!