Ministry at Large
the spirit of the Haitians had been broken. Yes, they were shattered as they learned of the deaths of loved ones. Yes, they were in disbelief that all they had worked for was gone. But their spirit was not broken. Throughout the night, the families around us had called out in prayer, asking God to strengthen their faith and help them endure the days to come. What I never heard was “Why?” What I did hear was “Selman Bondye Konnen”—“Only God knows.”
On Wednesday afternoon, as I witnessed the return from Port-au-Prince of Sisters Simone and Carmelle to find their beloved Oudel and Jude dead, I decided that I could not handle any more heartbreak. For six years I had worked with these leaders of the order and others in Fondwa—all people whom I considered close friends—as we tried to build a better future. Now, it all lay in rubble. The sisters’ cries and moans represented what I felt, but was unable to express. Once I left Haiti this time, I told myself, I would not return. Then Sister Carmelle turned to me and said, “Jamalyn, we have no priest here, so you will be our priest. Tomorrow you will do the funeral for Oudel and Jude.”
I was nearing the end of my rope, but God helped me go just a little bit further. And so, on Thursday morning, I led prayers of comfort for the community on behalf of the Lord. God’s grace overwhelmed me in a way I had never felt. I physically felt the prayers of the thousands of people who were praying for us.
After that service, leaving Haiti for good was not an option; it was too late for that. I had given the people in Fondwa my heart, and they had given me theirs. On Friday, we rose before dawn to begin our hike out of the valley to the highway, where we would begin the next step of this journey. Our departure was at 5 a.m., but the children rose to sing to us and wish us well. It was the most beautiful singing I have ever heard. It is not the children’s cries of distress that haunt me, but their songs of blessing that stay with me, and call me back.
Jamalyn and Dave Williamson serve at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, Ind., where they live with their two children, Margaret, 4, and Nathan, 21 months. Jamalyn returned to Haiti May 3–7 to meet with engineers assessing damage at St. Antoine School and the Fatima Orphanage, which Family Health Ministries has committed to rebuild. For more information, visit http://www.familyhm.org