All of the missionaries at Covecrest were blessed with the opportunity to go to Haiti. We spent the week about 60 miles southwest of Port Au Prince at an orphanage run by a Catholic organization called Moving with the Spirit. One of the biggest blessings from the trip was being able to spend Palm Sunday in Haiti.
Growing up I never really celebrated Palm Sunday or Holy week with my family. Holy week always fell over spring break so every year my family would go to Florida for vacation. In my mind growing up, Easter was to be spent on a beach with my family and not in a church. In the past when I had gone to Palm Sunday a couple times I didn’t understand anything that was going on and I didn’t really care. All I knew was that I was given a free toy (palm branch) to entertain myself with during the extra long mass. This year was different though because I was able to celebrate Palm Sunday in the third world and for the first time, Palm Sunday came to life for me in a whole new way.
The mass started over a mile away from the church at a small alter on the top of a mountain overlooking all of Haiti. The Palm Sunday gospel was read there and the priest went around and blessed everyone’s palm branches. There were over a hundred Haitians there and everyone was singing and praising the Lord. After the branches were blessed, the priest mounted a real donkey and rode on this donkey for over a mile to the church while everyone followed behind him singing Haitian songs and carrying their palm branches.
Palm Sunday is the day when we remember how Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and everyone laid palms at his feet and sang out “hosanna in the highest”. Getting to watch a priest mount up on a donkey and ride over a mile to a church while everyone followed him singing praise to Jesus with palm branches in hand really brought Palm Sunday to life for me in a whole new way. In a way I got to physically experience the scripture story of Palm Sunday instead of just hearing it read out loud. From now on when I hear of Palm Sunday I’ll still think of the bible story, but I’ll also be thinking a lot about the mental image in my head of that mile hike through the mountains of Haiti as the whole congregation processed to Sunday mass.