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Behind the mountains

February 1, 2005

I remember that day many years ago – a day that ended as being one of the most memorable and life-changing days in my life. It was my first trip to Daniel’s home in rural Haiti. We got up very early so that we could get to the bus station in time for the first bus and good seats. It was to be a long journey on a hot July day and we wanted good seats. I was excited; Daniel was anxious and I soon learned why. We arrived shortly after the “front seats” had been taken. The bus was a huge truck transformed into a bright, colorful, covered “passenger” bus. Each bus had a name – the Good Shepherd, Christ is Able, the Eternal and many other religious dictums, scriptures or proverbs. The name of our bus was Exodus 33 v 14.

Benches had been placed inside in an orderly fashion and it looked quite cozy. The open windows offered air and a clear view of the countryside. So it really did not matter if we were not able to get one of the three coveted seats in the cab of the truck. Besides, it wasn’t crowded when we got there and I was confident the ticket agent was serious when he said we would be leaving “now, now”. Meanwhile the music got louder and it seemed as if the horn was stuck. Both had the desired effect because very soon the bench seats that I thought were for three passengers soon had six persons each plus baggage. The chatter and contagious laughter were pleasant diversions from the music, the horn and limited space.

One hour later, we were on our way. The in-town travel was slow and uneventful. As we left the heavily populated areas, the driver increased his speed significantly. At that moment, I appreciated being sandwiched by my travel companions on that wooden bench. At each pothole and speed hump, we played “musical chair”, which became more and more competitive. I quickly learned the art of landing on the bench to avoid being the one who “lost a seat”,

When we approached the mountains, I had an even greater respect for the Haitian proverb, “Behind one mountain stands another mountain”. We traveled up one and down another so many times that I stopped counting. At one point, the road became extremely narrow. I thought of Isaiah 35 v8, “And a highway will be there, a roadway, and it will be called the Highway of Holiness”. Quite frankly, from my vantage point I could not see a road. I could only see that we were high in the mountain and inches away from the cliff. I did not want to entertain the thought of something or someone interfering with the driver’s attention span or another vehicle coming in the opposite direction. Filled with fear, I could no longer see the beauty and majesty that were clearly visible from the bottom High on that mountain and on that narrow road, I was feeling an uncomfortable closeness to God!

We arrived! Our bodies were tired and covered with dust, but what joy being greeted by the family and drinking fresh coconut milk. That evening as the family gathered, I thought about the day’s events and my heart and mind turned to Exodus 33 v 14. “ My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest”. What an appropriate name for our bus. I learned in tangible ways that the people of Haiti do believe that God walks with them and that God is capable of giving them rest from their many troubles. What an appropriate way for me to enter into the lives of the Haitian people. In spite of the pot holes and speed humps of life; the dangerous mountains--one after another, one problem after another, one scar after another; the crowded conditions, by the end of the day I knew what it truly means to be close to God.


Sandra and Daniel Gourdet Daniel and Sandra Gourdet are missionaries with the National Spiritual Council of Churches in Haiti (CONASPEH). Daniel serves as a consultant for development programs. Sandra serves as a consultant for educational programs.

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