Over the years, I’ve had young men stay at my house with me while they work on their education. At some point they move on into their own adventures. Wilphar is married and in Brezil with his wife.
Emmanuel is in Brezil. Jean-Pierre is married and is my neighbor and landlord. Jules is married and in
France. Esprenord is married and in the city of Cayes. Celian is in French Guyana.
The newer generation consists of Erntz (24), Steephenson (21), Herold (25), and Jean-Wesly, alias Bleck
(14). In February, I was hit with some significant changes one on top of the other. Erntz flew to the USA
for 9 months on February 7 th . Days before saying goodbye to Erntz, Herold had shared news that he and
his girlfriend had taken dramatic steps forward. They are scheduled to be married in May. On the heal of
those major changes, Bleck’s father has been visiting the country. He had been in Chile working as a
head mechanic and kind of out of the picture. Now Bleck’s dad is making arrangements to take Bleck out
of Haiti. Steephenson left for college in September. I see him on major holidays. In the days ahead I may
be alone in my house.
It’s funny how things change. One minute you are worried about too many. Then you have none. I’ve
learned in this life that you follow God’s lead. When He gives you 10, you hold all 10. When He takes
them away, you let them go.
I know people who plan and forecast and estimate. It’s all good. God uses it all. But in the end we are
just called to obey…today.
Unrest and Rest
Haiti descends into mayhem from time to time. It’s been a while frankly since things were paralyzed like
they were in February. The president has been guilty of trying to reduce Haiti’s reliance on aid. That
made enemies. Then there is the accusation that millions of lost dollars are connected to him somehow.
That brought people into the streets. School stopped. Traffic stopped. We all stopped.
Kids were free all day. Some suggested we go camping at the beach (a dream we often have and seldom
realize). So, we took off and camped. I walked home for some lessons and rehearsals, but we spent most
of two days at the beach resting. It was beautiful. It was fun. It was relaxing.
The country’s unrest provided us with need rest.
Our church has four departments : Men, Women, Youth, Children. The Women’s group has been active
and effective for years and years. The Youth group has been stronger and weaker from time to time.
Right now they are quite healthy. This year, finally, and Men’s group has taken shape. They meet weekly
and have offered special music in church services. (A favorite kind of music for me is the acapella men’s
groups that sing in Haiti.) It’s a very encouraging sign for the life of this little congregation. I am praising
God for this development. Never in my time here has the church had a group of active men like this!
I’ve been head of the Children’s Department at church for years. BUT, it’s never really been more than
Sunday school. We lost several good workers to marriage in the past couple of years (young ladies who
married men from other congregations.) Now, we are moving forward again. The youngest kids (3 to 6)
have a great teacher and aid. The middle kids (7 to 10) have two young ladies working hard to lead them
forward. The older kids (11 to 14) have me. AND, we’ve begun meeting each week to plan and prepare a
better program for our kids. We’ve organized the kids into two choirs that will sing in church services. I
lead neither of them, but will accompany both. We’ve also re-started our Children’s Church program
which takes kids out of the church during the message for their own little program.
God’s family needs men, needs women, needs youth, and needs children. Join our church in praying for
each of these groups. To God be the glory.
Sunday Morning Parade
Churches in Haiti like to take to the street on special occasions. They hire a brass band and march
around singing songs of salvation. It’s a beautiful thing. The ASAPH Brass Band plays a couple of annual
parades. One is out at the highway. It’s nice to walk on pavement when you are trying to play, but the
busy national road is not closed for the parade, which means you have to stick to one side and keep an
eye out for traffic. We do other parades here in town. There is no traffic problem, but walking over rocks
and stones does a number on the sound of your trumpet as it shakes around on your mouth.
In February, the band played a parade for a church where several of our members attend. I played
parades in high school. We’d learn one song. We play the song, then walk to a cadence. Repeat. Repeat.
Repeat. I tried to use that model here a few times. The participants wanted more music and less
cadence. SO, I followed the lead of the lead trumpet players this time. They led us from one song to
another with no break. After twenty minutes of playing, we did a short break. Then we started over. We
played more than I ever have played a brass instrument. I lost the ability to play at one point. Then, as I
played on, I found I could play high notes only. That was fun for a while.
After the parade, the band stood in front of the church. Since nothing was happening, the leaders of the
band said, “Let’s play some more.” They kicked off a song we hadn’t prepared. But, they knew it, and I
trusted them to do it well. It was fine. Then they did another.
The ASAPH Brass Band is becoming more and more alive and less reliant on its American director. The
signs of adulthood are becoming more visible from month to month. It’s encouraging to me. There are
several real musicians in the band. God has blessed us, and I am thankful and inspired.
I’ve been blessed to see growth and development lately among the students of ASAPH. A couple of
stories with people’s initials only (in order to protect them).
A.M. – AM plays trumpet, tuba, drums, bass and is learning trombone, guitar and piano. NOW, he is
directing the C band. He’s so natural. He hears everything and sees everything going on around him like
a person who has done it all before. His rehearsals are quiet, but fun. A future band leader for sure!
C.B. – CB does great at school. Under the direction of Coach Jude, CB helped choose the players for this
month’s soccer game. He arranged them on the field, made changes, and coached the team. They won.
Kids accepted his leadership as if it was familiar to them. He has been studying English in a special class
out at the hard road. In Thursday’s ASAPH English club, he took over for me and led with great skill. He’s
shy, but he’s like a beautiful flower about to open.
J.M. – JM is the soccer team’s coach. He sees me teaching at my Teaching Center. He is studying
education in a university on weekends. He has built a coconut-branch room beside his house. In it, he
teaches. He tutors and leads a French Club.
B.J. – BJ is a quiet kid. She is the most solid of four alto players in the brass band. Last year she taught a
couple of her friends to play trumpet. They are now playing in the C band that BJ leads along with a
couple of other young directors. BJ recently made a presentation in a newly formed French club here in
town. The leader of the club tells me her presentation was impressive and complete. BJ’s dad was a
teacher for years. It’s not hard to imagine her being a fine one very soon.
M.M. – MM was my assistant Sunday School teacher for a couple of years. He had been a kind of wild
and unfocused young man, but always nice. He watched me closely teaching Sunday School and filled in
for me when I was away. He is now a leader for the church worship team. He speaks clearly and
sincerely. Sunday he addressed the class I teach and gave a great testimony about daily Bible reading.
J.M. – JM, the soccer coach, preaches in our church from time to time. This month he spoke about David
being used by God to eliminate Goliath. It’s a dramatic message, coming from a young man who God
used to save the life of a kid who fell into a well. JM gives all the glory to God.
J.W.E. – JWE plays trombone, trumpet, drums and piano. He asked if he could try my computer program
that allows me to make original arrangements. He has spent hours figuring it out, but finally arranged a
song for 4 parts.
T.M. – TM is teaching brass instruments for money. He works for a church that sends their students here
each Saturday, and he travels to another neighborhood where Compassion International employs him.
Young leadership is exciting. Pray for us here at ASAPH as we try to move in the direction God chooses
Jude Saves a Life
Jude is Asaph’s soccer coach. He’s studying education on the weekends at a university out at the
highway. Our band has done summer camp in the same facility.
While he was in the office of the school one afternoon, he heard a commotion. Jude ran toward the
commotion. That’s who he is. A boy had fallen into the well. There was not rope. There was no ladder,
and there was little time left for someone to do something. Jude arranged for the men around the well
to hold his feet. He went head-first into the dark well reaching for the boy. After several sweeps of his
hands, he grabbed the boy under water. Jude was able to push the boy up toward the hole where other
folks pulled him out. He had a head wound, but was fine the next day when Jude visited him (see photos
on the ASAPH Facebook page).
Jude grew up in a bad situation. His father was a monster whose life ended in an ugly way several years
ago. Jude was an angry and violent boy. During his teen years, he committed his life to Christ. The
change has been dramatic. He is a soldier of peace, of relationships, of discipline and of love. He leads
the young men of AAF (Asaph Academy of Football). He teaches Sunday School.
I think he has saved lives already in his life. One afternoon in February it was a dramatic and visible
salvation. Pray for Jude. He is one tool in the hands of Almighty God.
Missionary in Haiti.