The Haitian church is preparing for Christmas -- if you were there, you would be regularly hearing the various church choirs and small groups rehearsing Christmas music. The congregations have been singing Christmas hymns since at least Thanksgiving time, if not before! And at least some churches have been preaching on Christmas themes for a while now. Christmas in Haiti is not generally the time for gift giving. Christmas in the rural areas is mostly centered around Christmas services in the church with skits and music.
The time for gift giving is the New Year, which is also Haiti's Independence Day, when friends may jokingly greet one in the street with a request for their “etren”, or New Year's gift. It is also a time for special food (pumpkin soup!) and visiting as the community celebrates the start of the new year and the remembrance of their nation's declaration of independence from France.
Around Christmas time through Missionary Flights International, a number of ministries in Haiti receive Christmas Gift Bags packed for Haitian children by generous churches in the US (www.christmasbagsforhaiti.com). Each year HAFF is blessed to have a number of these Christmas Bags (200 this year) to give employees as their “etren”. Even though the bags are packed with gifts meant for children up to age 18, even adults look forward to them with great intensity.
Keep Haiti in your prayers as prices go up drastically this time of year and there is still much hunger due to the troubles in the country and the resulting inflation. Many families do not have family members traveling home for the holidays due to cost and insecurity. Pray also that the Christmas message of a Child being born to bring "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests" would take residence in the hearts and minds of those who do not yet worship our Savior, Christ the Lord.