Americans have access to great teaching. You can get it on the radio, on TV, in magazines and in books. It is sad, though, that 97% of what bombards us in this culture is trash. You have to know where to look for the truth, because it's lost among the flood of foolishness.
My times in the US are refreshing because I can hear more profound thoughts and ideas here in the US than I ever do in the culture of rural Haiti. BUT, all also hear many more lies here in the US. From time to time here in the US I find gems, bits of truth that sway the direction of life decisions. They are truly like gems in that you find them pretty much only while you are searching. The lies in this culture, however, are like raindrops. THEY find YOU. And if you fail to protect yourself, you will be dampened.
TV shows push our ideas. Songs push our ideas. News stories push our ideas. Magazines push our ideas. Why all of the pushing? What is the objective?
Americans pride themselves on being free thinking. Oh, really? I don't think anyone participating in this culture is able to think freely anymore. We've all been contaminated to some degree. In days gone by, X was bad and Y was good. Then there was a philosophy that dominated a generation: there is no right and wrong because everything is relative. Now, stealthy campaigns have taught us that X is good and Y is bad. Is there any doubt that one hand is behind the whole thing? One force that has a vested interest in pushing people a certain direction.
People have an enemy. His name is Satan. People have a Savior. His name is Jesus. One of the two longs for you to live your entire life doubting and thinking for yourself...never trusting.
I trust Jesus.
Each Sunday morning brings a new situation lately. I've been able to worship at a few congregations already this trip...Christ Lutheran, Bethlehem United Methodist (Christmas Eve), St. John Blymire's, and St. Paul Trinity Lutheran in West York. I'm planning to visit Bethlehem United Methodist, Otterbien United Methodist, and Cornerstone Fellowship as well. It's great to have the chance to share the story of what God does through supporters of ASAPH. Last Spring two members of St. Paul Trinity connected us to several brass instruments. They were shipped, they arrived, and they have been played. I was able to show them a picture of the cases on the day they arrived in Pas-bwa-dom. It's great to have a chance to show folks how their help is real and practical.
Things are coming together for the next ASAPH concert. We're planning several original songs of mine. GENTLE RAIN is an instrumental song that expresses the work that good teaching does...it falls like gentle rain. A to Z HYMNS is a latin groove that quotes 26 different hymns, well, 25. Q is such a crazy letter. ELWOOD is a be-bop song that features ASAPH HORNS playing along with a drummer from Haiti--via video. This year's concert will again feature the REVELATION BAND from CLC and some fine horn players: Craig Kenney, Mike Hartman, Alyssa Kenney, and perhaps some more.
Come and enjoy the concert, and be a blessing to the folks that are ministered to each day by ASAPH Teaching Ministry.
The ASAPH Bible Program goes up and down. It's a Bible recitation program with 10 levels. Each level has about 10 verses. Kids work on their own and receive a ribbon for each level they pass. I've awarded over 70 ribbons so far. I also award Bibles after a person achieves five levels. I've given away about 10 Bibles now.
For a few months, I had almost no activity. Then, right before I flew home, kids started coming again. One young man recited nine different levels in a matter of two weeks. He has a gift for memorizing. He's also a fine trombone player.
It's a blessing to sit and listen to kids recite the Bible. It's also a great chance to teach them one on one. I'm blessed to be the administrator of that program.
May God use the verses that these kids have hidden in their hearts!
On November 30th, my music students presented a concert in Pasbwadom. We filled two full hours with some pretty good music, from trumpets and trombones to recorders, keyboards and guitars...and some drums! A two-hour concert in Haiti is a 'short' concert. Often concerts go on for hours and hours.
All of the music went well. There were no catastrophes, well, maybe one. The Brass Band prepared music from 5 different countries. When we got to Mexico, the drummer was confused and didn't remember what to do. We got through the song, but it was a small catastrophe. OTHER THAN THAT, there were no big problems.
At that concert, we sold tickets for $5...five Haitian dollars, which is about fifty cents. We raised a total of $705 Haitian dollars. All of that money was given to a church in the neighborhood that is losing its building due to the new highway coming through town.
I encouraged the musicians in Haiti to offer their talents to the benefit of someone else...a sister congregation. The did so happily. It's not unlike the ASAPH concerts here in the USA. Good-hearted musicians give of the time and talents for the benefit of ASAPH Teaching Ministry. We're currently planning another ASAPH concert. The details will be available soon.
Back in October, the ASAPH BRASS BAND was invited to provide special music at a celebration for 30 years of education at the Christian school in Labaleine. They came and picked us up, and we rode in the back of a pickup up into the mountain community. It was a Sunday afternoon. The community had bee celebrating for a week with services, soccer games, and more. This day was especially for the school teachers. The ASAPH Brass Band played an arrangement of Happy Birthday. Then we offered our version of a Christian Classic, NO NOT ONE. At another point in the program we played BECAUSE HE LIVES with bass and drum accompaniment. The kids played very well in the new, big environment. Then, after the program, the school treated us to pizza! That 's right. Pizza. We each had two pieces of homemade pizza and a soft drink. The kids did well. For many it was their first taste of pizza. They played it cool while eating, but in the truck on the way home there were plenty of jokes. I liked the joke about the kid who said he 'liked the food...especially the gum on top'.
It was a job well done, and a great experience for a dozen kids in Haiti who like spending time rehearsing at the ASAPH Teaching Center.
Missionary in Haiti.