Years ago, we used to show movies on Sunday evenings in the church...Narnia movies, other Christian films. I would often translate or at least explain parts. Then French versions became available. But, somewhere along the way, the church movies stopped.
Many people in our town have TV's now. A few have satellite connections. So, people are used to watching DVD movies or TV movies at a friend's house. Plus, people have smart phones that allow them to watch videos on You Tube.
So, when the church planned a movie night, I figured it would not be very popular. With movies being everywhere, the thrill would be gone, I thought. Then, it was raining an hour before the film was to begin.
I went to set up the laptop and TV anyway, and I found there were people there WAITING for the movie. People aren't EARLY to church activities here...or to anything. By the time the movie was set to begin, the church was filled pretty nicely...with kids, young people, and adults. Many had seen the movie before...an African film about a pastor whose wife is over-taken by demons...for a while.
I was shocked at the popularity. There is something about being in a room with 100 people and seeing a movie - - the group giggles - - the group surprise. The funny comments were entertaining as well.
Maybe someday it will happen in the USA again...movie theaters full of people being entertained together. Let's hope so. But, let's hope the movies are better than they used to be. :)
Late in 2019, here at ASAPH, I began several groups of trumpet players and trombone players. They were grouped according to age. There were several 7th and 8th graders, and then a bunch of 4th and 5th graders.
Progress with the younger kids has been slow. They are moving ahead, but it takes more time for them to be in control of the instrument. I believe they will be strong in time.
Many of the 7th and 8th graders have been making great strides lately. I work with them 2 times each week. We learn scales and do a ton of imitation playing. Then we add reading rhythms, and finally reading the written notes on a staff. When they become independent enough to read easy songs and hold on to their own part, we can begin to put together a group of players that will play four parts. We call that Brass Band "C". It's an exciting step. (They are behind the "B" band that rehearses twice weekly. The "B" band is behind the ASAPH Brass Band that plays in public.)
Today we reached that exciting level with a group of six players. When I presented a four-part song and divided them up, they seemed uncomfortable. As we learned the parts one by one, they seemed more relaxed. When we put them all together, they loved it. They were making music, and I think we made several brass band fanatics at the same time. Once they taste the thrill of making music together, the motivation is there. It's a beautiful thing to watch.
Here at ASAPH, Teddy and Anemson are helping musicians along the path to being able to play in a band. Each time we do that, another life is improved. THANK YOU, Asaph supporter, for making this ministry possible.
Last September, the band decided to lead a worship service in the local church as a way to celebrate our birthday. In September of 2013, the band was born (see video on the video page). Last year's anniversary service was a big celebration with special music and a 'first-time' preacher from among the band members.
This year, coming out of Covid-19, the program was smaller. We were able to play music to accompany worship, and two band members prepared a special Bible reading. This year another young band member brought the message. It was well-prepared, well-presented and well-received. The young man is a pastor's kid, so that helps.
Young players are key to the band these days. Several of our older (20's) players are busy with life and exams nowadays. Our newer younger players are holding down the parts just fine. They are indeed stronger and more independent than their older counterparts, but less experienced.
The brass band recognizes that our mission is not our own. We are blessed with equipment. We are blessed with talent. We are blessed with songs, musicians to play them, and people who choose to listen to us. It's a blessing to play the songs of salvation....for a service, a concert, a parade, or anywhere that anyone might invite us. "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever."
On Sunday the 27th, the ASAPH ACADEMY OF FOOTBALL (soccer) traveled to the valley community of Lacolline for an away soccer game. Our coach, Jude, had set up the game with a friend of his who directs a school in that community. It's a community much bigger than our own. Jude knows the director well and knows that he shares our commitment to building tomorrow's leaders. We are always careful to arrange games with teams that are under good supervision.
Sunday's experience was a delight. We arrived early and greeted our opponents. Their leader addressed both teams together detailing the importance of sportsmanship. A crowd gathered, the players warmed up, and the referees appeared. It's always as scary situation when you are in another community and about to go head to head on a soccer field.
Our kids did fantastic. The other team was a bit bigger than our kids. We are used to that. Under some serious stress, they handled the ball well and controlled the game. It all came down to one corner kick. Two of our players combined on the corner kick to get the ball into the air in front of the goal. Our 2nd tallest defender had his head in the right place and there was no chance of missing the net half-empty in front of him. No question about that goal as he followed it all the way into the back of the net.
Our primary goal is always good behavior, good citizenship. Our kids achieved that at almost 100% that day. The other team was a great example as well...helping our kids up off the dirt. It was a good day for Haiti. Two teams struggled against each other with honor.
AAF is a great tool, and we are using it to build tomorrow's leaders. Our tiny kids are becoming serious players. Our serious players are becoming captains. Our captains are becoming coaches. Growth. Glory to God.
Shutting down activities across the planet has so many consequences. Haiti followed other countries and shut down schools and churches back in March. Now, months later, schools are opened in spite of the dramatic August heat. Churches are beginning to function as normal, but there is a problem. The same problem effects choirs, bands, teams, and so many other groups.
For months, people did not get together. There were no real appointments to keep. You got up, you did what you felt like doing on your own, and you lived that way all day every day for months. That gets in your blood. As the brass band here at Asaph started rehearsals, players were absent. The first "meeting" was well-attended, but rehearsals since then have been missing about half of the players. The soccer team meets with only a percentage of the players. Leaders at church are telling me that they are confronting the same issues. People sat down. Now they are unwilling to be active.
The world sat down in 2020. I wonder when or if we will ever get up off of our couches and be the active people we were just one year ago. Will it take a few months of activity to get back in the swing ? Will the laziness wear off ?
So many good things depend on "getting together." So much of ministry is about "getting together." If the Enemy had wanted to throw a wrench into the working of this planet, he probably would have come up with a pandemic reaction that put people at home, alone, on their butts.
Light the fire, God. Light the fire in us. In me. Light the fire again.
Laura came to our village without warning. My internet was down since Friday. I had seen the storm on a website and knew it was going to pass by to the north of us. I didn't see the forecasts over the weekend. Sunday morning in church, it rained. In a church with a great big tin roof, rain kind of stops the ability to communicate. After church, I was feeling a bit ill...headache.
I walked home, got a little wet, and felt worse. I recognized this kind of headache to be malaria. I had chloroquine on hand, so I started taking it on Sunday. Sunday evening was rough...rain, wind, headache. Monday got better, and Tuesday was gloriously sunny, and I was at full strength. The storm kind of paralleled my illness : Came suddenly, was strong for a day, was better the next day, and then was gone.
I am thankful to God for His constant healing. His record with me is really impressive.
I hope Louisiana and Texas are ready for the storm.
Here are some more things that just pop up into my consciousness as I try to adapt to this new life back in Haiti after 5 months away...
1. It's hot. This morning I sat at my computer. I had showered. I was in the house with door and windows open. There was a breeze. I was still. And yet, sweat drizzled down my back. Some nights are nearly dramatic in regard to heat and stuffiness...even thought my bed is bordered by 2 open windows.
2. People here mention the virus as an ice breaker. Some ask about what it is REALLY like in the USA that has been so "overtaken" by the virus...according to reports they hear. After a few ideas, they are ready to move on in conversation. Churches will be back to normal in a week or two. Schools are finishing up the 2019-2020 school year now.
3. Toilet seats are great. My outhouse doesn't have one. We honker down. I find it more difficult to get down and to get up now. The hip. The knees. I may at some point have to invest in my own personal toilet seat. Aging.
4. People in Haiti are more in tune with spiritual events than Americans are or admit to be. People here know what evil spirits can do. They know Satan is real. The developed world can't confess that fact.
5. It's hot.
6. You can do your own doctoring here. I had a belly ache. I recognized the pain at the belly button. It's a sign of worms. I sent people for worm medicine. I took a pill. I feel great.
7. I tried to by Hydroxychloroquine in the USA...$100 US for 30 pills. I said, "No, thanks." (We use it to prevent malaria when mosquitos are bad...which they are pretty much right now). I sent a person to by it here. I paid $100 H for a bottle of 25 pills ($100 H divided by 23 is about $4.30 US).
8. Church in Haiti is not like church in PA. It is, but it isn't. I love both. I am blessed to have both. Singing good old songs is like a fresh rain on the soul. In Haiti, people sing. They don't whisper or hum along way down low. They open up and sing the song. It's powerful to be beside people who are singing. Add the worship element, and church is a powerful event.
9. My new freezer is a glorious source of refreshment nowadays. Several people in town have them. It allows you to share (sell) cold water with neighbors. The guys at my house make juice...cold juice. We buy canned juice...cold canned juice. When we make quacamole (?), we can make it cold. We enjoyed a cold watermelon last week. We have an icepack ready for injuries and have used it once already. Ice is nice.
10. It's 87 degrees in my office now (cement roof). It's 94 in the kitchen (tin roof). Later today that will flip. In the evening, the cement roof area will be in the 90s and the kitchen will cool down to the mid 80's. In the USA, a 77 degree room is hot and stuffy. So, I can say it : "It's hot."
I had never been away from Haiti for 5 months at a time...not since I came here in 1992. This year was different (understatement of the year). I was about 10 days away from being gone for 6 months.
I have not walked around town yet. I am 'kind of isolating' myself so that people feel more comfortable around me, and so that I can't be blamed for anything. :) BUT, I have yet to meet anyone who is apprehensive about getting close to me.
I am surprised to see the growth in certain kids. It's dramatic. I am also delighted to see noticeable advances in maturity from a couple of people. That's encouraging.
I have been hearing stories about "ASAPH" things that happened while I was away. That is a blessing. I left 3 guys at my house...WEC showed up as things closed down in March and April. They appear to have handled the house very well. No official ministry stuff took place due to the government's rules about meetings, but there were things that happened that were positive. A Compassion student and member of the brass band had to hand in an important paper on a short deadline. He showed up here asking for electricity overnight so that he could work on his laptop. I was not here. The guys at my house made it possible for him to accomplish his task. It is little things like that that impress me as I learn what happens while I am away.
As always, I anticipate learning some things on the other end of the good/bad scale as well. They take longer to bubble up it seems. A have noticed a few broken things, but nothing dramatic.
God keeps working in people all day every day. It's a good thing. I am thankful we cannot escape Him ever. God is good.
I flew from BWI to PAP on Sunday August 9th. The airport was not as busy as usual, and as a result things went quickly and smoothly. Checking in was normal...except for masks. Security was normal...except for masks. Waiting was normal...except for masks.
The flights were full, but by God's grace I had an empty seat beside me on both flights. There was no drink/snack service on either flight. Miami's airport seemed normal, though I was there for only about 30 minutes.
The airport in Port-au-Prince was close to normal. While waiting in line for customs, a group of 3 ladies were pointing a thermometer at the heads of travelers. I saw no one that was called aside. We all came through with no delay. After customs, a gentleman in street clothes standing by himself was asking (some) passengers for their Covid tests? I said I had none. He asked to see my Passport and copied down my last name...nothing more. He waved me on ahead. I saw no one who actually presented proof of a test.
I did receive a tiny card on which some instructions are printed in 4 languages. It tells me to carry the card in my wallet and take it to the hospital with me if I get sick.
I feel great now four days after travel.
Ever since May, I have read articles that tried to address the Covid 19 situation in Haiti. There were recorded cases. Articles presented the idea that the next two weeks in Haiti would be catastrophic...death...hospitals overwhelmed...chaos. May went by. June went by. July went by. Haiti has since opened its borders. Life is moving on.
Many people here in town will tell me they had a fever a few months ago. They felt bad. They felt feverish. They couldn't smell or taste a thing. Then they got better. They only half believe that they had Covid 19. What doesn't make sense to them is that they did not die. No one they know died from Covid 19 either. How could it have been Covid 19, because Covid 19 is so deadly, right ?
I have asked people this question : "If 100 people get Covid 19, how many will die from it ?" One young person guessed about 20. Another suggested 75. Another suggested maybe 15 or so. One educated young man said he thinks they would all die...100 out of 100.
That is what they have been led to believe. Bad information leads to horrible predictions. Haiti is timidly back in school now (the first week of school in Haiti is only ever attended by about half of the students). Life will go on.
Haiti is a beautiful, tough, fascinating place. It's lambasted often. Sometimes it is ahead of everyone else.
Missionary in Haiti.