Brass bands in Haiti (like in New Orleans) are connected to funerals. Bands offer a song as part of the service, and then lead the procession to the cemetery or family plot. It can be a slow march to the burial, but once the body is in its place, some celebration music is offered.
The ASAPH Brass Band members were never interested in playing a funeral until this past year. We played a special song at the funeral of a man who's son was a friend of the band. That inspired some of the players. On January 8th we were invited to play a funeral for the brother of a man I've known for twenty years. It was quick notice, but we got things together and accepted the invitation. There were 8 of us. The special song in the service was shaky at the beginning...nerves. And during the procession we ran out of gas. There were only two trumpets (I was one), and we got winded. Other than that, it was a fair first attempt.
The gentleman who invited us paid the group $300. Each player got $40, except for me. I took $20. It was the first time our musicians received cash for playing music. The ASAPH Brass Band is opening doors for people to earn money.
The band also accepted an invitation to play a wedding. We have a great wedding song : I WANT TO BE ONE WITH YOU. And we're learning some classic 'ceremony' music like Ode To Joy. The bride was a former member of our church. She invited us to her town on the top of a mountain for the wedding saying, "The last little part of the trip you'll have to do on foot."
Well. There we were on a Saturday morning with trumpets, trombones, and a tuba! We climbed. We climbed. We sweated. As I caught by breath under a tree, we received word that we were half way there. Ay!
We made it. We played two songs. We were fed. And we climbed down the mountain to our vehicle and came home. It was a trip for teenagers and young men...not a fifty-year-old white guy. We made a decision to never accept an invitation without knowing the details.
BUT, it was a nice wedding. The bride was praised as an example of what a young Christian woman should be. That was delightful to see.
Wedding. Funerals. Parades. Concerts. Services.
The ASAPH Brass Band. His music. His message. His glory.
The ASAPH Brass Bands (both the bigger band and the beginner band) prepared a series of Christmas songs for a December concert. It happened on December 23.
The date was a problem. Attendance was low due to other activities scheduled that day. BUT, we still raised over $1000 H for our summer band camp.
The ASAPH Brass Band played Christmas classics like : Angels We Have Heard On High and Mary's Boy Child. We also prepared several Haitian Christmas songs. There were soloists, small groups, and a dixieland band as well. Brass Band "B" offered two songs.
One highlight of the concert was the song WHITER THAN SNOW. We prepared two buckets of fake snow for the occasion. As the band played, two members began showering the crowd with snow. Jesus washes our sins, whiter than snow!
The theme of the afternoon was : The Word Became Flesh.
The program closed with a short play. The play was prepared as a panel discussion. The three panelists were : Joseph, the husband of Mary ; John the apostle ; and Martin Luther. They each shared their impressions of the Word becoming flesh. The host interviewed them and they shared their ideas. After the interview, they took questions (prepared in advance) from people (planted) in the audience. The panel discussion ended with the panelists and host chanting THE WORD BECAME FLESH. The audience took up the chant and it led into the final song of the evening.
The incarnation. God among us. THE WORD BECAME FLESH!!!
Imagine a situation where people stand in line to recite Bible verses. Hard to imagine ? It happens on Mondays and Wednesdays at the ASAPH Teaching Center.
The ASAPH BIBLE ACADEMY is a set of ten levels of Bible verses. Students purchase a copy of the program for $5. They then recite the levels one at a time. Each level contains about 15 verses along with lists and other Bible information to be memorized.
Upon completion of 5 levels, the students receive a Haitian Creole Bible. It's a $100 value. Upon completion of 10 levels, the students receive a songbook that is used in churches all over Haiti. It's a $120 value.
SO, children, young people, and adults are now investing $5 in order to receive items worth $220. But there is a lot of work to be done before they reach the prizes.
This Bible program has been in use for years in our community. I was a school project years ago. Now it is an ASAPH project.
Your sponsorship dollars allow ASAPH to purchase Bibles and songbooks. That gift is inspiring people to memorize God's Word, which will certainly inspire them to live better lives.
GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD! HE IS GOOD. HIS LOVE NEVER ENDS!
Our church's youth group planned and executed a week-long conference in November. It was impressive.
They invited churches from out of town to visit. They prepared worship. They prepared special music. They prepared a theme for the week complete with a Bible memory verse and theme song. And they prepared a big concert to act as a grand finale!
I played keyboard several evenings. There were powerful, moving messages encouraging young Christians to be a model for the world. I believe young lives were changed.
On the big Sunday closing concert, the youth group presented many songs. Other groups from other churches sang as well. It is always a blessing to spend an afternoon hearing Haitian Christians sing the glory of God. The ASAPH Brass Band was invited to perform as well. We played WORTHY IS THE LAMB, a nationwide favorite by Micheal W. Smith. We also played a great popular tune in Haiti : MY LIFE IS NOT AN ACCIDENT. And we closed with THE LOVE OF GOD, our theme song.
What was most remarkable to me, was sitting and watching the young people. I was in Haiti for the birth of so many of them. I remember them coming to school as slobbering little wobbly kids. I remember seeing many of them 'come alive' as young primary school students. And now they are leading worship, coordinating activities for the Kingdom of God.
My position as long-term missionary is a beautiful one. I thank God for it.
I write and translate for Christian Aid Ministries. In 2017 I wrote Bible textbooks for 3rd and 4th grade students. CAM provides me with the subjects and lesson focus. I write out the lessons in Haitian Creole. That task has pushed me to re-examine many Bible stories in an attempt to communicate them to children. We've focused on the prophets, and on the law for grades 3 and 4.
I am impressed by how much God longs to communicate with us. He longs to direct and orient us in this life. Sadly, so many people live deaf and blind by choice.
And I am again impressed by how God stored up images of Christ all throughout the Old Testament. Things that happened thousands of years B.C. pointed directly to Christ! That's remarkable. It's like God had The Plan all along. And indeed He did. Glory to His name!
I also translate magazine articles. When I translate live in a church service, I always remind people that translating for a preacher allows you to give a great message without doing any preparation. It's the same for a magazine article. You get to communicate great information without having to do all of the tedious research. And the things I have learned! It's a great part of my job.
In rural Haiti, when a family builds a cement house, there is one special day in the process. It's called BETON. It's the day they pour the cement roof. It's a task that requires many many hands. You need people to mix the cement. You need people to put it in buckets. You need strong men to hoist the buckets up a ladder. You need people to pour the cement into place. You need people to catch the flying empty buckets (my job) and return them to the beginning. And, you need women to prepare food for everybody. (Excuse the 'sexist' point of view...it's a cultural thing.)
I own gloves. Work gloves. That makes me a candidate to be the guy who stands on the ground and catches empty buckets being tossed down. On November 11, a neighbor of mine (our church's pastor) was pouring the cement roof on his house. BETON! I took my position and caught nearly every bucket used that day. I dropped a couple.
BETON is a community event. If you help people on their BETON day, they will show up to help you for yours. There are lots of jokes. There is lots of food...juice, coffee, tea, and bread...and a cooked meal at the end. And there is always a lot of noise. Men working under pressure to be speedy will cry out : "BETON!" or sometimes "BUCKET! BUCKET!"
It's an honor for me as an outsider to be part of a BETON. I was delighted to help our Pastor have a better house for him and his family. BETON isn't really a part of ASAPH Teaching Ministry, but it is part of being a community member. It's part of being a brother, a Christian.
My HP laptop had been giving me warning signs. Two times it stopped charging, only to charge up when taken to the repair man.
On November 13, the laptop stopped working. I couldn't translate. I couldn't write. I was forced to rely on laptop #2...a laptop I try to use only for musical applications. I limped through several projects using the second laptop. I traveled to the city of Cayes on public transportation seeking a solution to the laptop issue. A 'repair man' there said the laptop was no good...better buy a new one. We were able to save many of my documents.
I brought the laptop home. The repairman here quickly fixed the laptop by replacing a wire. It charges. It works.
While relying on laptop #2, it began giving me trouble as well. The mouse pad stopped working, forcing me to use a wireless mouse. If I didn't have that mouse, I would have been helpless with 2 laptops.
The repairman in the USA showed me a button that had shutoff the mouse pad. A button. He pressed it, and voila!
SO, it wasn't really a laptop crisis. It was an operator crisis.
Thank God for those among us who are technologically talented!!!
Missionary in Haiti.