The ASAPH Brass Band was live on Facebook this past Friday. That was a great experience. I have done ASAPH concerts where I show video of the band. I have posted video recordings, but the live event was quite a success. We had church members from CLC tuned in. We had former WFL missionaries tuned in. It was exciting for a band that has yet no play 100 miles from home.
We scheduled the event for a small family get-together at my mom's place. They were watching and listening as we played a few songs. The others responded to a message I had posted that same day. Who knew it would be of interest to so many people?
Haitians here in town and far away tuned in to watch the video. We watched the numbers go from 3 to 100, to 400, to 900. The next morning we were at over 1000 people who had 'received' the video. Several hundred had actually watched at least a portion. That's amazing.
We are planning new events...with no dead time at the beginning. ; )
Technology has made this world seem small. I can't help but remember the days when I would ride a vehicle for 90 minutes to the city of Cayes in search of a telephone to call home. It was a different time. Now we do video calls from inside my house.
We thank ASAPH sponsors for making these things possible. With funds budgeted by the board of directors, we now have a fiber optic cable that brings the outside world right here.
We look forward to being live again soon. Keep your eyes and ears open!!!
A mother goat with her twins has been hanging out around my place. I put up a sign. I sent messages to the owner. She has fallen into my trash hole about 10 times now. I don't think she falls. She eats in there and then waits for people to come rescue her. It's a good deal for a hungry goat. A few times the kids have been in there with her.
I reinforced the fence of the west side of my yard. We bought 2x4's and split them to make posts. We cemented them into the ground and screwed sheets of tin onto them. It's an attractive barrier, if I may say so. But that leaves three more sides to the yard.
The south side is now the week part. This week we'll have it strengthened by adding the wire fencing that the tin replaced. We've filled in holes on the east side already and one hole on the north side. I put an elastic thing on the gate so that it doesn't ever hang open.
SO, I've done about as much as a guy can do. The little goats have been inside the yard once or twice. They are so small they can pass through the tiniest of holes. And they are cute. I scoop them up and 'drop' them over the fence.
I found out goats don't eat marigolds. My two marigold plants are untouched...by goats. Kids have stripped them once or twice, but not the goat kids...the human ones.
Our plan is to plant a section of ground in front of the western fence. You can't have goats visiting young plants. We shall see who wins.
The MICEVA Church in Pasbwadom is where I have been a member since 1992. The name has changed over the years. MICEVA is MISSION CHAPELLE EVANGELIQUE VISION EN ACTION.
The church has ridden out waves of health and illness over the years. We are in an extended good period lately. Pastor Etienne is a stable, local leader. He knows everyone, knows The Word, and is sincere in his love and service.
The church embarked on a 21-day series of worship services in January...every night for 21 nights. I was only able to attend about half. It is remarkable what time in the presence of God will do. The church seems as united and motivated as ever. I cannot imagine a church in the United States of America planning or executing such a daunting task. That is sad to say.
I know people who were present every night. Anemson, the guitar player and an ASAPH student played for 20 of the 21 services. The only one he missed was the day the Brass Band played out of town at a banquet.
On Sunday, we concluded with a long morning of worship, special music, and preaching. Our church has four departments : Men, Women, Youth, and Children. Each department offered an original song according to the theme of the activity, which was Walking On The Road To The New Jerusalem. It was powerful to see every branch of the church working together.
Being a missionary in 2020 is strange. I live in two cultures, and sometimes I am not sure which place I live is actually stronger spiritually. Americans can learn a lot from so called Developing Countries. We have much to offer them as well. That is the beauty of working as a missionary. I see goodness and potential at every turn. I wouldn't trade places with anyone.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His Love endures forever.
So often, things happen that appear to have been planned, but they really weren't...at least not by me.
In reference to actual students, I will use initials only.
OJ has been around here a lot. His older brother is a fine trumpeter in the brass band. OJ was never quite as quick. But he was persistent. He longed to play keyboard, then glockenspiel, then trombone, then drums, but he never made much progress in any of them.
He pestered my to borrow a keyboard. I was reluctant. BUT, I did, and it has helped very much. He now plays fairly relaxed. (He was so choppy at first.)
RC hounded me about playing guitar. I would show him little things from time to time. He had started on trombone. The sound was never good, so we tried tuba. He did great. He learned to hear bass lines. He is now playing electric bass quite well.
MP was a natural drummer. He can do about everything....if he shows up. He tends to be absent.
OJ, RC, and MP are all under 16. They are playing together already as a kind of worship band. It's early. They have a lot to learn. But I have never had kids this young playing together as church musicians. We will pray with them and for them. We will teach them. That is what we do here at ASAPH.
A musical group should always be ready. You never know when an invitation will appear. Last Monday our band rehearsed...poorly. Few members and little energy. We had nothing on our calendar. On Tuesday I received an invitation to play in the town of Ti Goave (2 hours from here) on Friday evening. It was a great opportunity! We jumped at it.
On Thursday evening we had a special rehearsal. It was well attended, and it was full of energy. We got our program ready and made plans to travel.
On Friday at 3:00 sharp, the bus appeared. It was smaller than I remembered. By God's grace, there were only 20 members approved to travel (4 were eliminated due to past absences). We barely fit into the bus with our drums and horns. Off we went.
We arrived on time and were shown a back stairway to the banquet hall where the people of SALT (a Christian finance program) were having an employee banquet. We quietly set up on the stage and prepared to play.
We played our traditional opening song complete with our credo, and then our 'biggest hit' My Life Is Not An Accident. From there we continued with 2 classics, Battle Hymn (a regular evangelical song down here) and Great Is Thy Faithfulness. The rest of the program included our versions of contemporary Christian songs and classics plus a Haitian favorite, Haiti Cheri!
The ceiling was low, and the room was live, as they say. Our band played great. They were professional in every way.
Our hosts were incredibly gracious providing us with more food than we have ever seen for a performance. Meat, bottled juice, rice, salads, and more. They also covered the cost of our transportation and made a generous contribution to our band as well.
It was a win win situation. We have been longing to play further away from our little area, and this was a big step.
God has been faithful to the ASAPH Brass Band. He gave us the instruments, the music, the musicians, the supplies, and people who choose to listen. To God Be The Glory!
Goats are a problem in my yard from time to time. Neighbors have goats. They come into my yard looking for food. My flowers are food. So I run after goats from time to time. Most often, they get away. If I am able to catch one, I'll tape its horns or legs with duck tape so that the owner knows he was at my place.
Yesterday I was rehearsing the band. I stepped outside, score in hand, to get something from my house. I saw a goat wandering deeper and deeper into my yard. I walked slowly behind him. He didn't run, so I kept closing in. He headed right where I wanted him to head...into the most secure isolated corner of the yard. I had him!
As he ran up against the fence, I grabbed back leg number one. He leapt up, but went nowhere. I grabbed back leg number two. Then I got a front leg. My music score was still in hand as well.
As I lifted him upside down and began carrying him, something seemed wrong. He was easy to catch. And there was a smell. I looked down at my upside down goat. He was looking up at me. Goats are not dogs. Their faces are...almost demonic. Horns. Weird eyes. This goat had a bloody mouth. He had apparently had a battle with some cactus days earlier. There was blood. There was stench of rotting flesh. And there was no bleating. The thing just looked at me...bloody and grotesque. A horror movie in my hands.
The smell and the sight make me wince as I type this right now. I may have bad dreams about this goat. That face. That smell.
He bled on my music score. I had to trash that.
Next time I run after a goat, I plan on getting a good look first. I don't want any more scary goat stories. I'd prefer the tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago instead....to quote a song.
I'm gonna go wash my hands again right now.
Another year has come and gone. The sun comes up each day. People wake up and go back to sleep. Food is cooked and eaten. Lessons are learned...or not learned. Time marches on.
I spent part of the day on December 31 talking to kids about what their biggest moment was in 2019. Most couldn't come up with much. Some mentioned advancing in school. Some just made a joke or two.
Haiti's 2019 was dominated by "Peyi Lock" or a nationwide lock-down by anti-government protestors. It affected the life of every Haitian. One image that symbolized the year was also a yellow five-gallon jug. They became popular for everyone who owned a car or motorcycle. Gas stations were closed for months, but gas was available in the streets...in five-gallon jugs.
Life has a way of marching on. People who were with us aren't there anymore. New people may enter our lives, but it seems like more leave...especially as you get older.
I am fascinated by the cycle of life. When I was younger, youth seemed to be everything. But youth goes away. If that is all there is, you are in trouble. We each get one chance at childhood, one chance at youth, one chance at adulthood, and one chance at old age. Some don't even get all of those chances.
That is the biological reality, but I thank God that "life" is more than this body. I am thankful that He designed life the be so much more than childhood, youth, adulthood and old age.
The life of Jesus and His promises to those who believe in Him are abundant life...real life.
I plan to live in 2020.
"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." -- Jesus Christ
I agreed to provide lighting for the annual evening soccer games in the street. I met with the planners and we shared ideas about how the activity should be a family friendly one that involves all kinds of people in town.
On the first night, I set up the lights and waited. Things started about an hour late. I was upset, because it was a school night, and we were keeping kids from studying. Not a good start.
By the third night, things were happening on time. Members of the ASAPH Brass Band had decided to open a temporary restaurant during the soccer games. We bought supplies and delegated responsibilities. On Saturday December 21st we started selling food...fried bananas, sausages, chicken, etc. I sat and watched this group of young people in their ASAPH shirts being great hosts. They were happy together and worked together. I sat and thought about the beginnings of the group six years ago or so. They were children then. Many are finishing high school this year. A good number have finished already. Changes are coming as more and more members will leave town to pursue their life paths. I am so proud of them as a group. They have developed relationships that I believe will last.
I love my job. More and more I get chances to sit back and watch things. It is a rewarding experience for me. I am encouraged by the growth, the maturity, the stability that I see in young people I have had the pleasure to be around as they grew and learned.
Right now I am getting involved with a group of kids in our church. Many are in 4th grade. They are exciting, motivated, and funny. I can only imagine what they will be in ten or twenty years!
To God be the glory!!
Music exams here at ASAPH happen from time to time. I have printed two levels of exams for trumpet, trombone, tuba, drums, plus other instruments and some music theory. It's kind of a way to measure who has made it past the 'beginner' stage and is able to play with other musicians. Kids work at varying rates, and we don't really teach the test, and so, from time to time a student will ask about the exam.
This week a young man asked to take the glockenspiel test. He's been playing the instrumetn off and on for some time. He drifts between drums, keyboard, and the glockenspiel. I have often encouraged him to concentrate on one. It's funny how you can hear kids play, and you think to yourself : "There isn't much hope here. This won't go far." Then weeks go by, or months, and the same kid seems to blossom. That is what happened to this young man.
He did great on the glockenspiel test. He has also begun playing for worship services on certain songs on Children's Sundays.
A great part of my job is being witness to that kind of development. I have learned over and over to allow students to be weak, but to offer advice and encouragement while they are struggling.
Another young man was struggling with trombone. The sound was...not pleasant. He seemed to have musical ability, but the sound made it hard to listen to him. We switched him to tuba. The sound isn't great, but much more acceptable, and his sense of musicianship has blossomed. He loves playing blues bass lines on his tuba. He has found a place to blossom.
This week several of my beginner trumpet players made it to that step where they can play songs on trumpet. While we were working, a young drummer was there. He said, "I'll play for them." That made it more fun. Then the glockenspiel player showed up and said he could play chords on piano for the young trumpeters. Soon about seven young people were making real music together. It's a beautiful thing to see happen. That is what we do here...here at Asaph Teaching Ministry.
Translating is the art of taking information in one language and transferring it into another language. I translate for two groups...Christian Aid Ministries and Agriplus.
Projects with C.A.M. are pretty straight Biblical topics. There is a periodical or two and some other projects from time to time. I've also written 6 books with CAM...Bible books for grades 1 to 6. That major project is now finished.
I have enjoyed getting into agricultural subjects with Agriplus. The things I have translated have convicted me that farming is an essential area of work for any missionary, which is to say we can't neglect agriculture if we minister in an agricultural community. It is a fascinating subject. There are Biblical ways of farming, and non-Biblical. There are techniques that prepare for a better tomorrow, and techniques that squander tomorrow. I am glad to be addressing those ideas, though I am not out in a field doing anything. I hope these documents will clearly bring better techniques into use all of the island.
I consider each document I translate to be one way that I teach. I can teach people all over Haiti through one 4th grade book, or one magazine article. I am grateful to CAM and Agriplus for investing in Haitian literature. It is neat how God can use a guy with no 'backing' to translate a document for a mission with great reach in order to get messages into tiny corners of an island. God is good.
Missionary in Haiti.