On March 12th, ASAPH presented a concert in the local church. About thirty ASAPH music students presented music to the concert goers who paid $5 to get it. The money was then donated to a local church. It’s a win/win program that I always look forward to. We raised nearly $100 US.
The kids did very well. Some songs didn’t work out the way we prepared them, but they were all pretty successful. The fife and drum band was fun. The fife players stopped coming to rehearsals because they didn’t like so-and-so being in the group. Those are the struggles you find working with young musicians. It’s a great opportunity to teach…really teach.
The twenty or so young brass players did well also. They were under the direction of Teddy, who is becoming an assistant director for ASAPH bands.
It’s always a pleasure for me to watch the kids perform. I think back to the first moments they had with their instrument, the sounds that they made. ;) What amazing progress! It’s a really cool perk that comes with the work that I do. I get to see young people growing into the people God made them to be. It is fulfilling.
I promised to publicly mention the rift among the fife players so that they could grow from the experience. I did mention it, with love. After the concert many of them stuck around to help us haul everything home. That’s growth. That’s ASAPH Teaching Ministry.
T.G.B.T.G. - It’s in the cement at the ASAPH Teaching Center. To God Be The Glory!
We hired a truck to take us up into the mountains for a game. The driver has been a regular for ASAPH, but only on flat roads. It’s the biggest truck in town. With 30 kids on the list, and a parent or friend for each, and with some staff, we were loaded full. There are two roads up into the town of Fond-des-Blancs. One is long and gradual. One is short and very steep. I suggested we take the longer road for safety. The driver assured me that the steep road was no sweat for his truck. He’s an over-confident driver. I should have recognized that after 25 years here.
We made it up the steep hill. He paused as he began heading down. We all understood he was nervous. Now we were too. He had some of us get down to reduce the weight. We’d have to walk down the mountain. I decided to be a good example and got down. About half of us did. With the others in the truck he began creeping down. Then he began rolling down. I started to wonder if I was going to see a catastrophe. Then, while people began to scream, a tire blew. Dust. Metal on rocks. Grinding. All I could do was watch and pray. The truck stopped, by God’s grace. Everyone flew out of it.
Shaken, we continued on foot. We played the game. And we hired another driver to bring us home. We lost the game, but learned valuable lessons. Me especially.
The man who hosted us to play against his team was born in Haiti, worked his career in the US, and is now retired here in Haiti working with kids and preparing them for a better Haiti tomorrow. It was great to have our kids meet his kids.
The Carnival (Mardi Gras) came to Cayes this year. It was remarkable in that Cayes was pummeled by Matthew only four months ago or so. Now they were hosting the nation for the annual street party. I didn’t go. I avoid crowds like the plague. Reports from those who went said it was a success. No one died (as happens so often). I guess that’s how you rate a street party.
I spent those days in a small red tent with two other non-carnivalers down by the beach. The tent was about 20 paces from the water. It was glorious. No bugs to speak of. Only sand and sun. The other guys returned home each day and brought food, so I was able to remain there for two full days. It was restful, refreshing and beautiful. (I must confess, though, that we didn’t rough it too badly. We took my generator and ran it all night in order to have lights…for security’s sake.)
Sand is pretty hard, though. I was happy to sleep on my bed the next night.
The ASAPH Brass Band was invited to play at another wedding. We arrived and set up. As the service began (not at our church), I noticed that the traditional things were happening, but they seemed strange. The ‘pastor’ did the promises with the couple, but was very relaxed about it…off the cuff, kind of. I remember thinking : « Is this going to be a legal marriage ? » Well, the ceremony worked its way to the conclusion. We were readying to leave when a man on a motorcycle arrived. He was the real pastor. And he had the real manual from which ceremonies are performed. He took the mic and apologized for being late. He had forgotten the manual apparently and had to return home. SO, he said : « This won’t take long, but we must make the marriage official. » He proceeded to do the ceremony…again! This time it was more professional, but the folks gathered to attend the wedding had lost interest. It was a noisy finish. AND, our driver was pressuring us to leave, so we ended up skipping the very last portions.
I’ve never attended anything like it. And probably never will. A double down wedding. This is one marriage that has got to stick, I’d say.
New Blood In The Brass Band
The ASAPH Brass Band has about 20 players. I say ‘about’ because there are always one or two who are questionable…drummers especially. As school began last fall, six of the members left town to attend school out at the highway. It was a blow. BUT, God has used it to do good things. We began pushing the younger players who were already ‘in the pipeline’. Teddy, a lead trumpet player, is now teaching here every Monday and Friday. His beginner trumpet students have made great progress. AND, the young students that were already playing have now passed an exam and are knocking on the door of the ‘real’ brass band.
In February, I started six new trombone players hoping to find one or two that would continue. There are four that are doing pretty well. One is doing great. It’s exciting.
One of our young trombone players has jumped to sousaphone and taken to it like it was always his. It’s another whole God has filled.
PLUS, I decided to make an effort to not lose touch with the students who left town. They are all living in the same yard practically. It’s at the highway. I go there on Wednesday’s pretty often and have a little rehearsal with them. The Salvation Army church in that town graciously allows us to use their low brass instruments! SO, on those Wednesdays the little group is complete with solo trumpet, first trumpet, alto trumpet, tenor trombone, bass trombone and tuba! It’s like it was planned. Well, I guess it was. God knew!
ASAPH Academy of Football
We’ve been having sporadic soccer tournaments here for years. ASAPH sponsors the events. We form teams and play a series of games. One of my former students is a devoted Christian and goalie. He directed an ASAPH tournament this past summer and did it so well that I asked him to do another in December. He goes above and beyond his job description. He is deeply interested in the kids, and they have great respect for him. His name is Judes.
With Judes leading, we have set up…finally…a real soccer academy of sorts. We meet weekly now for Bible study, soccer rules and regulations, and social training. And we meet weekly to practice as well. Judes and another man are doing most of the work. It’s awesome to see men investing in the next generation of men.
Judes attended school up in a mountain community near here. There he played soccer and met a gentleman who I’ve heard much about but have yet to meet. The gentleman was born in Haiti, but retired from work in the US. He’s here now working with kids and has a soccer team of boys the same age as ours. They came here and played a match at one point, but it was informal. I was not able to attend. They invited us to their field on March 5th. We are planning to attend. It will be a first for a youth team here in Pasbwadòm…an away game. The school teams did it years ago. I think the ASAPH Academy of Football is on its way to making a great difference in the lives of kids.
One of my greatest pleasures is listening to the former students of the WFL school sit and share stories about their times in the school. The men always go back to the soccer tournaments we held after school. It was a time of growth for them, and bonding…and testing. Our prayer is for another generation to enjoy the same benefits and perhaps to an even greater degree.
Our church has been doing regular outdoor evangelism services. There is a strong prayer group in the church right now. In services, ‘things’ happen.
On Sunday night, we were in Flammands where a public market takes place every Thursday. We did the service complete with some animated praise music, shall we say. Our church leader’s message was powerful : Satan and his demons might do things for you, but they don’t love you. God loves you. God paid for you. Trust Him.
After the message, a young man of twenty or so come forward. Then a few more. One man was very tall. Several young ladies came as well. As the prayer team came and spoke with them and prayed for them, the first man was thrown to the ground. He was writhing. Then the very tall man went down. They rolled in the dust of the market. The tall man ended up stretched out on the ground like the letter l. The team prayed over him. In a matter of minutes he was speaking rationally. The evil spirit was gone. He got up and dusted himself off. The first man continued to flail and roll. He would growl from time to time. The service was pretty much over in the organized sense. It was all about the man with the evil spirit now. People tried to speak to the spirit. No answer. From time to time the man would jump up, but his movements were spastic. The crowd would disperse because his movements were violent. The prayers would say, “Down! We command you down!” The man would fall flat. The prayers said, “We handcuff you in Jesus’ name!” The man put both hands behind his back and pulled both feet up behind him as if he was hogtied. There was no rope. Well, no rope that we could see with our eyes.
Several times the man began saying, “Okay. Okay. It’s gone.” Nobody believed it. The prayer warriors would say, “You have to go. Leave this man!” Then he’d growl and flail and roll again.
I’ve attended occasions like this several times now. In Haiti, there is no doubt or suspicion that evil spirits exist. It’s clear. It’s taken for granted. Christians believe it because we see it. Non-believers believe because they see it. No actor could have played a role like these men did. It was not them. They were being man-handled.
I read an article in US news about a group of people inviting folks to cast a spell on the president. The guy in the article said, “You can do it seriously, or just do it for fun. You can do it as theatre if you like. It makes no difference. You don’t have to believe in it.” Hmm. That’s curious. A friendly, no-threats invitation into the world of Satanism.
It’s not a place you want to be.
I woke up one morning with ideas in my head about a radio interview. In my mind was the stuffy NPR programs I’ve listened to over the years. The guy on the phone (in my mind) was a composer, and while the talk sounded intellectual, the content was nothing but. SO, one free morning I typed out the conversation. On another free day I composed all of the music…the opening segment and compositions from the ‘composer’s’ album. Then I began recording the interview. It’s finished now, but needs a little cleaning up. I hope to post it somewhere or make it available before long. It’s called Composer’s Corner…”Bringing you the intellectual sounding composer’s of our time!” It’s my first foray into comedy. (Disclaimer : I avoid political issues…almost.)
Missionary in Haiti.