Life in the developing world is not like life here in the USA. Here's one example...
Morgues are in competition with each other for 'jobs'. That means this : Whenever someone dies, each morgue wants to get that job. To get the job, you gotta be there first.
In our area, morgues have launched a program where they reward the first person who calls them in the event of a death. It might be a family member, a neighbor, or a passer-by. If they hear about a death, they'll send the hearse out quickly. If they get the job, the caller gets a reward.
It makes for incredibly awkward situations. Our town experienced one last year...
A lady was sick, and not doing well at all. People from the church were called to pray with her. While they were praying for healing, a hearse was circling in the area. They saw the hearse. They found out it was there for a 'job'. One problem, the lady did not die that day. She lived for weeks after that.
Apparently a neighbor was looking for the reward for being the first to call the morgue, and he jumped the gun slightly.
Life in the developing world!
Funerals in Haiti happen quickly sometimes. Morgues are expensive, and families often choose to 'get the body in the ground' the same day or maybe tomorrow.
That means funeral bands have to be ready to go. You can get a call this morning about a funeral this afternoon. No time for rehearsing.
On Sunday April 24th, members of the ASAPH Brass Band played for a funeral up in the mountains east of Pasbwadom. They tell me it went quite well.
The ASAPH Brass Band has decided to not play for funerals as a group. Members of the group are free to organize themselves and take those kinds of jobs...for money.
By God's grace, the band is overflowing with musicians who can do the job on a moment's notice.
Inflation is a real problem here in Haiti lately. Food prices are dramatically higher than they have been over the years. Gas was rare for most of 2021, and prices shot up. Gas is now pretty easy to find, but prices seem to only go higher.
I remember when $100 Haitian dollars was a big deal. A family could eat for days with that much money in their hands. Nowadays, I send $100 into the street for an evening snack, and there is no change.
School students used to eat and drink with five or six dollars during recess. Now ten dollars can't even buy a drink.
I remember sending people to market with a few hundred dollars, but that would not even be enough to justify a trip to the market at this point. One thousand dollars is just a minimum amount to start buying bags of rice and gallons of oil.
Back in the day, I could go to the local street-restaurant in town with $100 in my pocket and buy food for myself, a few young men at my house, and a guest or two. Cooked food was $15 per plate. That same price can only buy a cold drink nowadays. The plate of food is $40 or $50.
With my money coming from outside, I "see" the change in prices more than I "feel" the change. People all over Haiti feel the change in their stomachs. It is real. Their income is limited, or even dwindling in some cases. Their ability to purchase food is diminished greatly. I am dealing with more 'hunger' issues now than I have in decades, it seems.
With the situation in Europe, thinks are most assuredly going to get worse. We are working on ways to conserve money. We are making plans to produce food. Food security is a real concern for all of the developing world, and ASAPH is trying to catch up a bit with the growing need right here.
THANKS FOR SUPPORTING this important ministry in one tiny community of Haiti !
What could be more appetizing than visiting the tropics in July! There’s heat. There’s heat. And, there’s the chance of a hurricane.
So, book your tickets now to spend a week with us here at ASAPH celebrating God’s faithfulness over the past ten years!
But, please only come in spirit. We are unable to host you. We are unable to guarantee safety as you travel here either. And food is tight. So, maybe send us a wish…and pray for the big celebration as we work toward it. THANKS!
In July, ASAPH Teaching Ministry will be celebrating! It was on July 17th, 2012 that this ministry officially launched. As we come up on 10 years, we are taken aback by God’s faithfulness. So many things have happened that were never part of ‘our’ plan. It feels pretty good when you know the Person in charge is omniscient. It really takes away the burdens. 😊
ASAPH is active in 10 different areas:
1) Perhaps the most public part of the ministry here is the ASAPH Brass Band. We’ve traveled further than any other part of the ministry and have been more active. In 2012, a brass band was nowhere in my brain. To God be the glory.
2) In second place is the ASAPH soccer team (AAF). We’ve participated in four tournaments and have been crowned champion for three, though that is not our primary goal. We are helping boys to become men according to God’s definition.
3) A new and exciting part of ASAPH is agriculture. WEC (Courtois Erntz) and I are planning many activities that will address food security issues here in our community. Education will be the priority as we incorporate new ideas and techniques in working the land God has put under our feet.
4) The girl's choir (Association of Young Women’s Voices) is also new. It has been through a few ups and downs, but we are working to make it a ministry almost parallel to the soccer team…meaning we are hoping to set up coaching relationships among young ladies in our community.
5) Art (pencil drawing) is another ministry that came to us along the way. Two young artists attended a two-say seminar in Port-au-Prince. They have now made a dozen artist-students of their own.
6) Academics were a major part of my first 20 years in Haiti. I am excited as we move into 2022 in that we are making plans to restore many of the academic activities I had incorporated during my years as school administer. We hope to do them on an interscholastic level.
7) ASAPH has always been a helping hand to students who are paying for another year of education. Tuition is our main focus, but we’ve helped students to cover other expenses as well, making more education a possibility for them.
8) As an English speaker, I have often been able to help people do better in English. English clubs and English classes have been part of the ministry here off and on for years. With WEC, we hope to make it a more stable part of the ministry.
9) A favorite part of the ministry for me is worship music. Here at ASAPH we are preparing the best church musicians in our area. Kids are growing up playing instruments and using those instruments to praise Almighty God.
10) At the foundation of all of these activities is the Word of God. I preach and teach every chance I get. I teach Sunday School every Sunday morning. The ASAPH Bible Program is a structured memorization program that rewards participants for memorizing God’s word.
With these 10 areas in mind, the are using the following logo to symbolize the 10 years of ministry:
Church conferences bring out messages of all kinds. There are those that are prepared, and those that are not. There are those that are emotional, and those that are not. This week, a white-haired, gentle pastor shared a story that left us rolling in the aisles, but that made his point beautifully at the same time.
The pastor was speaking about how Christians are held to a higher standard (rightly so) in this society. “Eyes are on us, and we need to be aware.” He also wanted to touch the hypocrisy that happens as people watch Christians and hold them to higher standards…not seeing their own faults at all.
In every society there are taboos. Haiti has its own set of taboos. Here, you don’t whistle around adults. You don’t eat in front of people, like in the street. You don’t look at people who sitting somewhere eating. You don’t go shirtless in public. You can bathe in front of people with only skimpy wet underwear, but you don’t disrobe completely to take a bath unless you are in your own yard.
So, the pastor spoke of having led a service for a church not in his hometown. After church, a lady of the church gave him some bread and coconut candy…a typical snack. He was on his way home on foot, and came to a creek. There, he noticed both a man and a lady bathing without any clothes. That is a serious taboo. When they looked up and saw the pastor crossing the creek chewing on his bread and coconut candy, he heard them say : “Well look at that! A pastor eating in the street!”
The world can be naked in public and still be taken aback by bread in the mouth of a Christian. Here’s hoping that you are not the person in the stream…fully exposed and taking shots at people who are serving the Creator.
A TEST QUESTION SHINES LIGHT ON THE EDUCATION PROBLEM IN HAITI
My music students are school students. We talk about geometry and geography sometimes…especially around exam times. Today a young man brought me one of his exams. He lost a point on the exam for a True/False question. He argued his case…before both the teacher and the principal, and he apparently lost. This is the sad situation :
The teacher wanted to test the students to see if they knew the surface area of a certain country. The question the teacher wanted to ask was basically this :
TRUE or FALSE : The surface area of Such-and-such is 500,000 km2. ______________
As such, the correct answer would be TRUE. But, the teacher was negligent, and the question appeared this way :
TRUE or FALSE : The surface area of Such-and-such is 500.000 km. ______________
Note that the second version does not use square kilometers, but kilometers. You cannot express surface area in kilometers. It must be square kilometers. That little fact makes the question false. The student in question wisely chose FALSE. It is with profound sadness that I tell you that his answer was marked wrong. He pled his case, and both teacher and principal (apparently) refused to admit he was correct. They reportedly mentioned the fact that the equipment used to prepare the exam couldn’t produce the km2 symbol…or something about a typing error.
This means that they wanted the student to interpret what he saw, and to devine what the teacher MEANT, and not react to what actually appeared on the page. I am beside myself as I think about a student trying to figure out what lesson he will take from this. “My teachers are not logical.” “My teachers are impossible to please.” “Logic is not good for me.” “Logic gets me in trouble.”
Many people say education in Haiti messes people up more than it fixes them. I don’t think I would go that far. But there is no substitute for truth. I used to scold students for writing poorly and then saying : “You know what I meant.” To hear that from a teacher is…deflating.
OLD GUY IN THE WORSHIP BAND
Back in 2011, I began a concerted effort to teach people to play musical instruments used in worship services. Many of those first students were young adults, and many are no longer in Haiti.
Along the way, I began working with younger players. Some kids who began on trumpet showed enough talent and ability that I started them on guitar and/or bass. They are now playing better than I am able to play. One young boy who longed to play keyboard would sit beside me during services and watch me play. He’s currently getting ready to take his second keyboard exam.
Last night I attended an evening worship service where I played trumpet. The drummer, the percussionist, the bassist, the guitarist, and the keyboardist were all students of ASAPH Teaching Ministry. They learned to play here. They got really good here. During the service, I had time to sit and watch. I listened to them playing, and I shared smiles with them from time to time.
Imagine if no one had bothered to discover the talent that was right there under the surface of these kids! Imagine if they had grown up only dreaming about playing instruments! They could have spent their whole lives not knowing how to hold a guitar, let alone how to make it lead people in worship. They could have spent their whole lives not knowing how to get a bass line out of four strings. Their talents could have been dormant for a lifetime. That did not happen.
Every church service at the MICEVA church is blessed with music because of the work ASAPH Teaching Ministry is doing here in Pasbwadòm. It is a blessing. To all who make it happen month after month, the old guy in the worship band says thank you.
OBSERVATIONS FROM LIFE IN A COMMUNITY (2021)
Every ministry has it’s own unique situation. I love mine. I am part of a community that has seen me so often they don’t really see me anymore. That is not to say they do not appreciate me. Just yesterday I received a monetary gift from the parents of a music student. People often take time to let me know how I have been helpful to them. But, I am not the “missionary” who attracts greetings and special care. That time came and went long ago.
If you are a school teacher, you have students who come to you. You see them as students. That is how you know them. You seldom get to see them as a son, or as a daughter. You almost never see them as a big brother or sister. Here, in this community, I get to see those things. It is a powerful thing to see a teenage student who borders on being prideful when you see him alone, and then he stops to care for his little brother, or bows his head in the presence of his mom. It is a more complete picture of the student.
Many of the people with whom I work in the church here were my students years ago. I saw them then as one uniform in a classroom. They grew, developed, and changed. Many of them I saw turn into teachers. Then they turned into wives or husbands. Now I sit and watch as they attend church with their eyes constantly seeking control of their children. That is life. I find it a glorious thing to observe.
ASAPH Teaching Ministry has a group of young leaders who are doing ministry. Here are a few (first names only).
WEC, who lived for 9 months in Wisconsin, is preparing to finish his university studies and work with me in ministry in Pasbwadom. He is overflowing with agricultural plans and projects that his time at college has prepared him to realize. I look forward to having him in our community teaching people what he has learned.
Jude is ASAPH's soccer coach...a life coach for many many boys and young men. He is also finishing up his university degree. He motivates and inspires individuals. He is passionate about teamwork. He longs to see young people who commit to following Jesus Christ.
Stephanie is a young lady who is working her way toward her high school diploma. She committed her life to Christ early in her teenage years, and is a talented worship leader. She played trombone in the ASAPH Brass Band for years. Stephanie is now a leader for the brand new all-girls choir. She is a coach, and also working toward being able to direct the choir.
Boaz is an artist, doing amazing pencil drawings. Boaz is a poet, writing and presenting texts that have made him a popular young man. He learned to play saxophone this year. He teaches drawing classes at ASAPH Teaching Center.
Anemson is a fine musician, and still very young. He plays trumpet, trombone, tuba, drums, guitar, bass and keyboard. He is a key member of our church worship band...faithful and talented.
All of these young people came through the Water-For-Life school where I administrated for many years. They are living for Jesus. I am happy to be beside them now in ministry.
Makenndy is a young man who works hard. He's strong. He's reliable. He is leading ASAPH's Bible Recitation program.
Teddy moved into our town several years ago. He is assistant director of the ASAPH Brass Band. He teaches young players. He leads the band while I am away. He is a trusted voice for young people, and a fine example.
TOGETHER, all of these people are lights in the community of Pasbwadom. They are workers in the Kingdom of God. Because of ASAPH supporters here in the USA, I am able to encourage them, orient them, and equip them in their ministries.
Missionary in Haiti.