The ASAPH Brass Band was invited to provide music at an evangelism service in the town of Mouyay Fouket. We only attended one evening though it was a weeklong program.
We were not terribly well prepared. And we played only a portion of what we had hoped to play. But it was nice to be there.
The pastor was from Port-au-Prince. It was a powerful message, and many people responded. I think twenty some people professed faith in Jesus Christ after the message. There were things happening in the spiritual realm. A girl behind us was thrown to the ground. She then was rolled across the dust and stones violently. There’s no way she could have done that to herself. An evangelist praying for a young lady was toppled by the lady he was praying for.
People in the USA don’t tend to believe in demons. They’re there. They are more sophisticated, I think. They adapt to the situation in order to be more effective at what they do, which is always the same : kill, steal, and destroy.
This was the second year that ASAPH supported a local activity during the Christmas/New Years week of vacation. It’s a soccer tournament right in the street and under the lights provided by ASAPH and some other folks with big work lights.
Erntz played on a team that managed a loss and two ties in their first three games. Ugh. But, when two teams were eliminated for rule-breaking, Erntz’s team was given a shot at advancing. They had a shootout with another team with the same record. Erntz’s team won the shootout, won the semi-final game that followed it, and advanced to the final!
The final was set for New Years Eve. Last year the final began at 11:00 pm or so, and they stopped the game at midnight for a brief celebration before continuing. This year, they decided to wait to start the game until midnight. Well, it wasn’t a great idea. As the game started, some drinkers began fighting some distance from the game. It was enough to distract the crowd and send many folks home. Then, it started raining. The game was stopped twice due to rain. Some folks hid. Some went home. Finally, in mud, the game finished at about 1:30 am on January 1st. There was a presentation ceremony attended by about seven people. Everyone else was home in bed. I think maybe next year they should change the schedule.
We tore down the lighting and went home after the final game. It was 1:45 am. I set my alarm for 3:30 am. Our church had scheduled a New Years service at four o’clock in the morning! I played keyboard. It was a fine service, and a great way to begin the year 2017. But I did go home and sleep. Then enjoyed the traditional pumpkin soup service on Haitian Independence Day, January 1st.
Years ago I remember planning a special Christmas dinner during the holidays. It was a bust. The guys who were at my house at the time didn’t grasp the concept of sitting together to enjoy a meal with each other.
This year, I did it again. It was a great success. I paid a lady in town to prepare a fabulous meal…rice, beans, pork, salad, macaroni, and little things call ‘cones’. Yum! It was beautiful and delicious. Present for the meal were Erntz and Steephenson who live here when not away at school. Ones was also present. He practically lives here…except for sleeping. Also present at the table were Judes and Serge, good friends of ASAPH, who happened to be here at the time.
We had a joyous time together. The food was abundant. Conversation was too. And there was love in the room.
It’s a blessing when people are together. I enjoyed sitting and listening to the group of young men who are not brothers biologically, but who are brothers in another way. We are brothers in Christ.
As bellies were filled to maximum, we noticed there was food still in the pots. Three young men came by about that time. We invited them in. We shared the food with them, but we shared love also. It was a Merry Christmas.
I left Haiti in October with plans made to play Christmas music in a big public market on December 23rd. When I returned and heard the band, we were still far from ready. A few rehearsals went by, and progress was slow. I set up an evening performance here in town where we could play the songs w/o the pressure of a big crowd. On that evening, the band was missing many players. We couldn’t keep the appearance. It was the first time such a problem occurred in the band…at least recently.
With that Tuesday evening performance scratched, I didn’t know what to expect for our Thursday final rehearsal, so I cancelled the Friday event. On Thursday the band gathered, but we were obliged to discuss our future. We talked about a band as a body and read the Corinthians passage Paul wrote about the body of Christ. Then, on Friday, in place of the market performance, we watched Drumline, the movie. It’s the story of a marching band who’s credo is : One band. One Sound.
It was helpful, I think. We’ll see how things go. The band members are growing up and are leaving their family nests. No surprise they are less present in the band’s meetings. We have since gathered to play some music for an evening soccer game, but again we were without a member or two.
It’s another reason for me to be busy preparing new players for the band.
Christmas in rural Haiti is not like a US Christmas…nothing like Currier & Yves. There’s no snow. There are no reindeer. And there are no busy malls. No TV specials. But, at Christmas time people do spend more time together with family and friends. In that way, it’s much like home. I love seeing former students and folks who have been away for a long time.
This year, Christmas was extra special. Erntz, who lived with me for a few years during high school is now away at college. He is unique among the guys who have spent time at my place because he has a mother and a father who are…united. His six brothers and sisters decided to have a family party on Christmas day this year. They invited a pastor and another church leader to speak. Each member of the family was allowed to invite three friends. I was one of Erntz’s invited friends, and host of the event as well since I offered the ASAPH property.
We arranged the space between buildings with chairs and tables. We decorated. We set up the sound system. We got really dressed up and received the guests. The guests of honor, Mr. and Mrs. Courtois arrived and the program began. There was love in the room, as they say. A master of ceremonies introduced each member of the family. We prayed. We sang. The pastor spoke about what a family should be. We had fun, ate some food, and spent a delightful evening together.
Families are amorphous sometimes, here in Haiti especially. What a delight it was to sit back and watch a family that is united and loving. They had planned. They had prepared. And they enjoyed the fruit of unity and loving service.
It reminded me of my family’s gatherings back in PA. In 25 years here, this was a first. And a few of the attendees remarked that it was a first time for them in their lives.
Missionary in Haiti.