In Haitian culture, events that recognize someone’s effort are pretty scarce. I’ve never known of a wedding anniversary party or a retirement party. People tend to not receive anything special after 25 years of work. SO, it was with much appreciation that I and four other gentleman received a certificate of recognition from an organization of young people. They hosted a May 1st Agriculture Day event in a local school facility. I joined four other teachers/principals who have served in various local schools for extended periods of time. It was an honor to sit on a panel with these guys. We each spoke. As per our cultural differences I spoke the least. Then we were given certificates and had our pictures taken with the group that organized the event. It was touching. My certificate is in a prominent place in my office.
During the event, I couldn’t help but make an observation. The five ‘elders’ (me included) sat at the table with no screens in front of us…no phone, no laptop, no tablet. Among the three twenty-somethings who were honoring us, there were six screens lit up before them on the table.
Internet service is becoming a basic human need. :(
Since I’ve been back in Haiti, lots of kids have been showing up to recite Bible verses. Every day there are four or five kids who come and recite. It’s a program that catches fire every now and then. Kids study verses on their own and then come to me to recite. If they properly recite a whole ‘level’ (ten verses or so and some Bible information in list form) they receive an ASAPH Bible Academy ribbon and are free to attack the next level. After five levels, the kids receive a Bible. After ten levels, the program is finished and kids receive a surprise. The surprise I am currently planning is a trip to the National Museum in Port-au-Prince…but don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret surprise!
The brass band rehearsed while I was away! It’s the first time for that. They worked on a couple of songs for Flag Day…May 18th. We’ll be marching in a program at a neighbor school in the community of Puits-Sale. It’s be a new experience for us. And then on May 29th we are preparing to present a concert in the small city of Cotes-de-Fer. You can find that on a map of Haiti, it’s that big. It’s also the hometown of Haiti’s recent president Michel Martelly. It’ll be the band’s first concert in a populated area. We continue to raise money for summer band camp planned for July.
Upon my return to Haiti the local church was in the midst of a Ladies Conference. The whole church was meeting nightly for services. The church was nearly full of people each night. Imagine: Christians leaving their homes and activities to be in church on weeknights! I am always inspired by ‘the church’ in Haiti when I return here. In some ways (not all ways) it resembles the primitive church more than American congregations.
My music students are beginning to come around again as well. It takes some time after a couple of months away. People get out of the habit, I guess.
The third Sunday of the month is Youth Sunday at our local church here. They’ve asked me to bring the message. It is always a blessing for me to be able to address the church and teach. Lots of activities piled together, but as they like to say back home now, “It’s all good.”
When I first got to Haiti in 1992, people told me a story about a killing that took place several years before in the little village of Pasbwadòm. It was a machete attack, and it had to do with a chicken fight. It seemed like a legend as I heard people tell the story.
Then, a few years ago, a lady was killed in the same manner only a few hundred yards from my house. It was an ugly time, needless to say. The sudden death of a community member is tragic enough, but then there are the questions : “Who did it? Why?”
Well, it has happened again. A man was shot nine times in the dark on his way home. He managed to run home. The attackers figured he might not die, so they came back and shot him some more and used a machete to…make sure. It’s hard even to type words about it. Now I live in a community where someone ordered this attack, and someone carried it out. It’s demonic. It will effect a generation.
The man who was killed was a very bad man. I had lots of contact with him years ago when I administrated the school where most of his 13 kids got their education. He was tough. His oldest son is a member of our church and a close friend of the folks here at my house. We attended the funeral with the young man and had him sleep over here at the house in order to get away from awful events.
Once again, it’s a horrible event. But I’d rather be here than not be here.
Spring 2016 in PA was busy. My family said goodbye to the street on which we grew up as our mother nestled into her new apartment. We dug through tons of memories. We painted. We emptied. We painted some more. On nostalgic occasions I often recall the proverb that says : “Better for something to be good and over, than bad and still going on.” Check out the video of the song CHARLES STREET on the movie page of this website if you want to be nostalgic about growing up on a small street in the 1970’s.
We put together another ASAPH Concert for April 17th. Great musicians made the concert a success.
And in the middle of all of that, I was able to finish a couple of translation projects (and get paid for them :) ). That’s always a good thing.
On my first day back in town, I was able to speak with a man who lost his son in a motorcycle accident while I was away. Wesley was about 18. He was a former student of mine and friends with the kids at my house. Wesley was on a cycle that was hit by another cycle. It’s always a privilege for me to meet with folks here that are suffering. Sometimes they don’t get a lot of encouragement from people close to them. It’s a very tough culture in some ways. I also met with Wesley’s sister. I can’t imaging suffering a loss like that at a young age. It was a special occasion for me to offer some advice to her and listen to her story.
Haiti can be a tough place to live. We’ve had our share of funerals. But I love being here in the name of Jesus Christ. No place I’d rather be.
Missionary in Haiti.