The ASAPH Brass Band plays in the annual Flag Day parade in our little community. It’s May 18th. We march to the Haitian national anthem.
In June, we were invited to participate in a Sunday morning “march” for the Church Of God’s annual conference in Vieux-Bourg, Aquin. Vieux-Bourg is on the national highway #2. It’s what we call the ‘hard road’. The plan was that policemen would be there and we would use one lane of the road for our evangelical parade early Sunday morning, hopefully drawing people to the big church service.
Well, the police didn’t show up. SO, the parade turned into walking along the street. Our band had prepared for a street parade, not walking single file down the side of a highway. SO, it didn’t go as planned. But we played our four songs (over and over), and they sounded decent. It was a great experience for the kids. We attended morning services in the big church along the highway, and they fed us afterward. We came home proud and fulfilled.
Check out the video of this event on the MOVIES (MULTI-MEDIA) page.
Wilphar spent years living with me back in the 1990’s as a teenager. Then he moved to Cayes for a few years of school. He met a girl there, married, had a couple of daughters. He is still in Cayes. I used to visit them regularly when I had access to a vehicle and traveled to Cayes for school business. Since then, I haven’t seen him very much.
In August Wilphar and his wife and two girls came to Passe-bois-d’ormes for a few days. It was a chance for the girls to visit their grandmother, and for the family to visit me as well. It was a delightful couple of days. We watched movies in the evenings in the ASAPH Teaching Center…on the big screen (projector).
I was delighted for the chance to catch up with Wilphar and his family after many months of separation.
Then Esprenord came by for a short visit and ended up staying for over a week as well. He also had spent a few years with me here as he finished high school in the late 1990's. He graduated from college in Cayes a few years ago and has been making his way there as a school teacher. He was very helpful with the trip to the museum and the Brass Band concerts in August. One day, in a Brass Band rehearsal he gave the players some great advice about listening. It reinforced an idea I hope to instill in every musician…intentional listening. Musicians should be the best listeners on the planet.
I’m thankful for all of the people I have around me here…good people.
Drought. Serious drought. Hardly any clouds all summer. Then, on the August nights when the meteor shower is supposed to be dramatic…cloud cover. It even rained a few drops the one night.
We did go up on the roof one evening as clouds began to gather. We saw a few tiny meteors. Then, there was one HUGE, LONG, SPECTACULAR meteor that crossed the entire sky. We all shouted. The show was complete, though really short.
Our church once again hosted a week of vacation Bible school. As director of the children’s department, I administrate the week of morning meetings. Each day began with singing on the church sound system (designed to attract kids). Then we learned about a Bible verse and memorized it in two languages.
After that, the kids separate into three different age groups. They travel around the school yard and learn a missionary story, a Bible story, and make a craft item. Then there is recess, a very small snack, and some more singing. At the end, bigger kids hang around for a Bible quiz competition.
I’m thankful that four young ladies in our congregation take on the role of teaching every single lesson. They are all products of the school and church. (They were young students when I arrived here in 1992.) How satisfying now to see them teaching their younger neighbors, cousins, nephews, and strangers.
The curriculum is prepared by the Baptist church in Haiti. It’s good material. This year’s theme was LIGHT.
May God bless the Light that was received by each student, and may He shine in their lives!
Haiti has a national museum. It’s in Port-au-Prince. They have artifacts from the pre-Columbian period (before Christopher Columbus). They have artifacts from when Columbus was here (like the anchor from the Santa Maria). They have artifacts from the slavery period (chains, swords…). They have artifacts from all of Haiti’s history including the famous black hat worn by dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier.
Every Haitian student should visit this museum. I visited it years ago with a couple of friends. It opens the door to understanding Haitian history.
On August 18th, the members of the ASAPH Brass Band traveled to Port-au-Prince to visit the museum. It was a delightful time, and a nice reward for kids who had worked hard all summer preparing a parade and two concerts.
Bonnegres Doudou graciously provided us with transportation. He even drove us around town so that we could see the airport (a ‘must see’ for kids who had never been to the capital before) and the brand new overpass that president Martelly had built.
We were back home safe and sound by late afternoon.
Labaleine is a community up in the mountains behind Passe-bois-d’ormes. There is a fine Christian school there with a great tradition of excellence. Several of the young men who have stayed with me over the years attended school there. In the old days, they would ride their bicycles up the mountain every morning and drift down every afternoon. One of the kids (now a school director) still complains about back pain from that grueling ordeal.
Herold, a very close neighbor (spends A LOT of time here) and Steephenson (who lives here with me) are both drummers. They both are in their third to last year of high school. Schools here in this town don’t yet offer those classes, so you have to leave town. Labaleine offers those classes, but it’s far away. The cost of tuition there is minimal (it is a ministry with American sponsors). SO, the only thing keeping people here in this town from taking advantage of it is finding a way to get there and back.
This summer, Herold and Steephenson both applied to attend classes there. A couple of weeks ago we got the good news that they were both accepted! God is good. I think they will be better people for having attended school there. AND, we were able to get them a moped that will allow them to climb the mountain each morning and come back home each afternoon without being ‘wasted’ physically.
May God bless them this academic year!
Seaweed. Red seaweed. It’s everywhere down at the beach. It was annoying at first. It just got it the way a bit. Then, it got to be so bad that you didn’t even want to get in the water. The other day we walked by one of the ‘bays’, and it looked like it was covered with carpet.
The whole Caribbean is experiencing the phenomenon. I say, “Yuck.”
We are in the middle of a drought. The word ‘hurricane’ is a scary word in some ways, but at least it involves water. We were looking forward to Erika. It was just a tropical storm, and we figured we would get some needed rain.
Erika did dump water on the northern part of Haiti. But we got about five big gusts of wind and seven or so minutes of rain. That was it.
On Sunday August 16, the ASAPH Brass Band traveled to the community of Lahat Jolibois. Lahat is on the outskirts of Cotes-de-Fer, hometown of President Martelly. There is a church in that community that is a sister to the church I attend in Passe-bois-d’ormes.
Shortly after church that morning, six or seven of us loaded a pick-up full of equipment and headed to Lahat. While we installed the sound system and set up drums, the pick-up returned to Passe-bois-d’ormes and picked up the rest of the band and instruments. When they showed up, we were ready to play.
The Brass Band began the concert outside with the song NO NOT ONE. Then we entered the church together and played another big march-type hymn followed by Fannie Crosby’s TO GOD BE THE GLORY. Then we finished our first ‘set’ with a slow quiet hymn in four parts.
That was followed by a singing group for the host church and a group of musicians from a neighbor church who are students here at ASAPH.
Then the Brass Band took the listeners on a musical trip. We played music from the USA, Germany, Brazil, and then Haiti.
After another round of host-church singers, the Brass Band played some music from the Baroque period. Pachelbel’s CANON, an AIR composed by Bach, and a piece of Handel’s ALLELUIA from his MESSIAH.
After some more singing, the band began its final set. We began with a classic Haitian marching hymn SOLDIERS OF CHRIST. Then a slow quiet hymn AT THE CROSS. During that song, the musicians used their instruments to form a cross. We always want to bring home the message of the songs we play. Then, GLORY, GLORY, ALLELOUIA! And to finish the program, singers from Lahat joined with musicians from Mouyay and the ASAPH Brass Band to play BECAUSE HE LIVES! It was a powerful finish.
Our encore was the Haitian Konpa song that had finished our musical voyage...a crowd pleaser.
The local church sold tickets for the concert, and all of the musicians played for free. SO, in addition to a musical performance that was as blessing, the local church also raised $860 (Haitian) on that day. As Bach signed his compositions, “To God Be The Glory!”
I grew up playing music on Saturday evenings for church picnics. They were ‘the big thing’ in many rural York County churches. I came at the tail end of the glory days of church picnics. As a young boy I would hear stories about how hugely popular picnics were ‘in the good old days’.
I played with the Dallastown Community Band, formerly the Dallastown Boys and Girls Band. The band had a long tradition of playing marches, religious music, jazz and other styles of music. It was an awesome experience for me. I loved the music, the atmosphere, and the food. A warm summer evening, under a few yellow light bulbs, playing good music and eating ice cream…a good time.
On August 22nd, the ASAPH Brass Band played a concert, an outdoor concert, on a warm summer evening, under a few yellow light bulbs. There was no ice cream. BUT, we raised $100 (Haitian) toward a ‘band stand’. My dream is to have a permanent concert stage in our community here in Passe-bois-d’ormes. People in this community love music, and they love to get together for programs.
(A special part of this event was the first performance of five new brass players. They did a great job. I’m always making plans to have new players coming along to replace those who move on.)
This first concert was a test. We put up some posters, but didn’t really announce it too much. Still, we had about 100 people show up to listen…standing…for over an hour. In the future I hope to encourage churches to ‘host’ such events providing food (for sale) and doing all of the preparation. I think it is a great ministry. Bringing people together for wholesome entertainment and fellowship.
I’m glad that ASAPH musicians are willing to share their talents toward that goal.
Missionary in Haiti.