What Was New is Old Again in Rosier
Rosier was always my favorite place in Haiti…even more lush and more rural than Torbeck. I imagined, if I moved to Haiti, that Rosier is where I would want to live. It’s by the ocean, it’s people are largely farmers, and it’s hilly. So I wasn’t at all sure how I was going to feel returning to Rosier this past week.
Rosier was devastated by Hurricane Matthew on October 4, 2016, and I hadn’t been back since then. I knew both the original (old) church and the (newer) big church had been destroyed. I knew that 145 mph winds had toppled most of the trees, and that the ground had been practically scraped bare. I knew that Rosier’s farmers were hurting, their crops ravaged and their animals killed. I also knew that seeing it with my own eyes would be much different than simply hearing about it from Dave, who had been there as recently as April.
What I saw when we pulled up in our trusted yellow school bus just days ago surprised me more than anything I could have expected. There, where I expected to see nothing, was a (new) church that looked almost exactly like the original church which I had first visited in 2013. It was like stepping back in time…only this church was bright red. Gone was the gray cement block building, and in its place was a haphazard collection of boards, tarps, and sheet metal which made me smile. The people of Rosier, who had lost so much, had NOT lost their church. Granted, it didn’t look the same. It definitely didn’t look like the big, beautiful church that had been built above the original building and dedicated just weeks before the hurricane hit, of which the people had been so proud because it could hold hundreds more people than the first church. No, it wasn’t grand, but it was their church, which they had rebuilt from the wreckage of the other and decorated as festively as before.
I don’t know why I was surprised to see that church in the midst of all the downed trees and very visible homes, most of which had been previously hidden by the tropical jungle. Perhaps it was because I thought Pastor Daniel and his flock would still be mourning the church’s loss, as I was still mourning the havoc Matthew had cause both in Haiti and to our ministry. But no. As Pastor Samuel reminded me, “Hurricanes happen. We live on a Caribbean island! We continue on.” And that’s the truth. Daniel and his congregation have incredible faith and trust that God will provide, and they made sure the first thing they rebuilt was their community’s church so they had a place in which to worship Him for the good, good Father he is.
The church in Rosier may no longer be a thing of great beauty, but that’s no matter. It continues to serve as the heart of the community, and from within, God will continue to meet his people as they search for ways to move forward. “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” —Isaiah 43:19 (ESV)
Of the 17 churches planted by Pastor Joseph Metelus (Samuel’s father) and the Church of God by Faith in southern Haiti, 14 sustained heavy damage from Hurricane Matthew.