Kids just keep growing, that is one thing we can count on. AAF (Asaph Academy of Football) began several years ago as a project for boys age 11 to 17. As time went by, the kids we knew so well grew older and older. This year, after some struggles, we have successfully arranged the team into two different categories...AAF SENIOR and AAF JUNOIR.
AAF Senior is composed of players (18 and older) who agree to ASAPH's code of conduct, who pass a written exam on the 17 FIFA laws that govern soccer, and who also pass a written exam on the biblical meaning of manhood. That team is currently coached by WEC. They are part of ASAPH, but take much of the responsibility for their own group.
AAF Junior is composed of a new group of younger players (11 to 17). They meet each Tuesday afternoon at the ASAPH Teaching Center for biblical devotions, study of the 17 FIFA laws of soccer, and other group building and training activities. On Wednesday, they train on the soccer field. I administrate the Junior team, but they are led by four young men who grew up in the AAF program. J.W. is teaching the 17 FIFA laws. P.L.L. is responsible for warm-ups and physical training. B.W. will coach the team (line-ups, positions, strategy...). C.S. is the chaplain of the team. He will teach the biblical devotions while I am not there, and he will watch over the players...paying attention to their church lives, their academic lives, their family lives, and their spiritual lives.
This is an exciting step. Coach Jude and I did those things for the older group. They are now doing the same thing (with my direction) for the younger group.
Growth has always been something that captures my attention. It fascinates me. A small boy participates in a program looking up to the people who stand before him. In the blink of an eye, he stands as tall as his teachers. Thank God for every student who turns around to see the next generation coming along behind him !
Back in the WFL days, one of the things I enjoyed most was Friday morning chapel services in the school. The entire student body would gather in the church, as well as the teaching staff. I led the programs with practical demonstrations and messages about everything from litter to love. We played games. We sang. We learned together. Many good programs and projects came out of those sessions.
Jude Medoit was a primary school student at the time. He attended chapel services. Later he became the head coach of Asaph’s soccer team. This year Jude is the Head Principal at the Baptist school down the road. He invited me to “do chapel” as we did it years ago. I agreed. It has become the highlight of my week.
So far, we have focused on math. I used “magic” math tricks to capture their attention. We have done practical demonstrations of measuring distance, weight, and volume. We have done fractions. Jude also asked me to teach a hand-writing course for 8th and 9th grade...a critical need as students are about to take state exams. I have enjoyed inspiring those students to look again at how they write.
In 1992, the Baptist school was “the” school in our area. Almost every educated person I met was a product of that school. Over the years, the institution fell victim to some bad management and financial trickery. Last year was a dramatic low point for the school, and Jude took the job knowing he is basically starting the school from scratch in many ways. The road is long. His job is heavy. Pray for him. He may be the agent God uses to bless this town with another institution that He can use to change lives.
The school is unable to pay bills. There are deep currents that move against almost every pastor that serves the church and school. Still, innocent children are there seeking education. It is a joy to be a small light in their week. God uses chapel services to call kids! I know that. :)
There is no hiding the fact that things are tough in Haiti nowadays. The only thing flourishing in Haiti is the gangs. Violence, kidnapping and other direct influence from the gangs remains a Port-au-Prince thing, but the entire country is hostage in many ways. Many items we all use are no longer available, or they are unreasonably priced. I tried to acquire a big water tank, but learned that the trucks bringing them from Port have not been able to do so for some number of months. Photocopies used to be dirt cheap. That is no longer the case. The little six-page books I used to make without thinking now require planning and a budget.
People are losing weight. I saw it last December when I flew back. It is not dramatic...yet. People used to address hunger with cheap cookies from the DR, cheese curls, and the like. Those items are dramatically high priced now. They aren’t selling, because people don’t have that much money for snacks. Soft drinks used to be part of the daily diet here. Not any more. The cheapest way to fill you belly these days is plain bread and water. I add real ocean salt to make the bread into a soft pretzel, and I add sugar to make it into cake. Spaghetti (no sauce) is a second option. The people who make food for me used to do a great job of including vegetables. When I mention that now, they say : “Too expensive.”
Life goes on. Schools are working. I am sure absenteeism is up and test scores are down. But at least they are functioning. Band and choir activities here at ASAPH have really suffered in January and February.
As much as ever, Haiti needs the light of the Gospel. Christians are the salt, the light that society needs more and more. The local church here just had 21 straight days of evening services...worship and preaching. It was well attended, and many people worked long hours to make it all happen every day for three weeks. A church auction near the end raised an eye-opening amount of money from right here in the community. God is faithful. And He is good all the time!
Missionary in Haiti.