Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

You’ll never believe this one weird trick to pursue peace in your life! (DOP #16 2015)

I don’t have “real” internet in the apartment.  I use a T-Mobile hotspot that has a 10gb a month limit.  I bought it when I was out of the country for pretty much a whole month, and knew I needed to be able to check email and write posts.   It works pretty well, so I decided to just keep it instead of paying Comcast or Verizon big money for the same thing.

Unfortunately, I ran out of internet on Monday night.

It isn’t really a big deal, it just means that I am going to make the 5 minute drive to where I work, use the internet there for a few minutes from inside the car, and then drive back.  I have permission to use the internet there even after work hours.  It is really just inconvenient, not really a serious problem.

Here’s the thing.  I found out about a month ago that one of my neighbors has an unlocked network, and I can get on pretty much anytime I chose to.  I found out by accident, when a desktop I don’t often use suddenly installed updates when I didn’t have my hotspot turned on.  It had connected to a network with the same name before, and connected itself without my intervention in the apartment.

Again not really a big deal.

The thing is that right now I am sitting here and thinking about my neighbors open network again.  It would be so easy to connect to their router, and upload my post for the day without having to go out in the wind and cold again.  “I am trying to do a good thing, surely they wouldn’t mind.  Anyways isn’t it their responsibility to lock their wi-fi if they don’t want anyone else to use it?”

It is so easy to justify our actions.

It is so easy to overlook our own wrong doing if we can’t see the victim of our crimes.  It is so easy to convince ourselves that we aren’t REALLY doing anything wrong.  It’s just wi-fi.  Everyone does it!

The thing is, our actions can have unintended and unexpected consequences.   Maybe using my neighbors wi-fi would be perfectly acceptable.  They may not ever even find out.  Or maybe by using their connection, I’ll cause them to drop an important skype call, or they will miss out on a connection with their cousin on facetime.  Maybe they have left their network open so they can steal personal data from people who use it.  Or maybe they have a data limit too and I could put them over!  The options are endless.

It doesn’t really matter if there would be consequences or not.  What matters is that I do not have permission to use their connection, and to do so without their permission is theft.  Even if it is such a seemingly small and victimless crime, it is wrong.

Sometimes we need to expand our perspective and look outside of our own borders to find a way to encourage peace in the world.

Sometimes we just need to look inside ourselves.

If we work to correct our own misdeeds, we are one step closer to leaving in peace with each other.

Now I just have to work on all the other things that I am guilty of wrongdoing in.

7 Tips and Tricks for Enjoying a Haitian Church Service.

I wanted share my experience in Haiti by offering some quick tips and tricks for enjoying a Haitian church service.

1. Arrive Early.

For a service that is scheduled to start at 8:30, you want to make sure that you arrive no later than 8:35.  This helps insure that you get a good seat, and lets you do a little socializing before the service starts.  In the United States, we honor people by honoring their time, in Haiti, you honor people by acknowledging the struggle it takes to even make it to church.  This means that the service starts when most people have arrived, instead of when the clock says it is time to start.  When you don’t have a car and are depending on tap-tap, moto, or walking…it is a little bit hard to be precise.

2. Pick the right seat.

There are a few considerations to keep in mind when choosing your seat.   First, never sit directly in front of the speakers, arriving early will help guarantee you get to make this choice.  Your North American ears are far too delicate to enjoy the unbridled passion that will come bursting out the tattered cones of the church speakers.   Second, ALWAYS choose your seat based on the time of day, and the expected length of the service.  You want to choose a seat that is in the shade, and will remain in the shade for the duration of the service.  Seats in proximity to windows, or locations that have a strong and persistent breeze are great choices as well.   It is good to follow the locals on this, as they often know exactly where the best seats are.  It may be a bit crowded in the good seats, but if they weren’t good, they wouldn’t be crowded.

You can choose a seat in the sun if you want to sit by yourself.   Seriously…no one else is going to sit by you.  Do not ask me how I know this.  Bring sunscreen.  Seriously.


Don’t sit here…you will regret it.

3. Singing.

If you are in a Haitian church, there is a good chance that you will not understand all of the words to the songs.  There is also a really good chance that there will not be any sort of lyric projection, or hymnals to follow along in.  This is fine.  If you feel moved by the music…you can attempt to learn the songs by listening and doing your best to repeat what you hear.

If you happen to be at a Haitian church that sings some songs in English, there are two important things to keep in mind.  The most important to remember is that they have almost certainly picked the English song because you are in their service.  Haitians do not enjoy singing in English so much that they just do it for fun when no white people are around.  They are honoring you with their song selection.  This brings me to my next point…

If they are singing in English, SING WITH THEM!  I don’t care if you know or like the song or not, they have made an effort to learn enough of your language to at least get the song close, please don’t dishonor their efforts by choosing to remain silent.

4. Offering.

They are going to take up an offering.  You may participate if you would like.  They may count the money at the end of the service, and this may be offensive to you.  If you find yourself feeling offended please consider the following advice.  I recommend you be very careful and think long and hard before you say anything.  This is not your church, this is not your culture, and you likely have more money wrapped up in your home and possessions than most Haitians will ever see in their lives.   If they want to joyfully give to the church in a guys versus girls competition to see who raises more money, I suggest you try to remember the last time your church gave money with so much generosity that the whole church was laughing with joy.  Yes it is different, but if you wanted to see things happen the same way every time, you might as well have stayed at home.

5. The Sermon.

You probably won’t understand what the pastor is saying.  If the pastor or someone else is translating Creole into English, keep in mind that this is a great honor.  The pastor is interrupting the flow of his speech to serve you.  Even if the pastor is not being translated, just sit and listen.  God will speak to an open heart.  I promise.

6. Standing and sitting.

You can pretty much do whatever you want on this one.  If everyone is standing, you should probably follow the crowd, the same goes for if everyone is sitting.  If there are people standing or sitting, you get to pick.  The only people worried about whether you are standing or sitting are the people who came with you.  The service really isn’t about you anyways.

7. Communion.

If you happen to be at a Haitian church when they offer communion, please take a moment to reflect on how special this is.  Churches all over the earth have celebrated communion in honor of Christ.  When you take communion anywhere you are joining with a global body of people who believe in Jesus, God’s son, in remembering his death on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins.  This is a sacred moment, cherish it.


Disclaimer: I suspect that Haitian churches can be a lot like North American churches in that they are all at least a little bit different than each other.  These tips are based on my personal experience of  attendance at two different Haitian churches, but by no means represent the whole country, or every church.  Use these tips at your own risk.   Please ask your doctor or your favorite Nurse Practitioner if you are healthy enough to stand during church, and before starting any vigorous dance moves during worship.  Blah blah blah….don’t sue me….etc. etc.