Scoring goals is a rush. It doesn’t matter the level of play really. I remember the first goal I scored here in Haiti…playing with other adults, that is. (Goals scored on kids who only recently learned to walk don’t really give you very much rush at all.) There haven’t been many goals for me. And there have been none involving a uniform and a referee. BUT, on September 6th it happened again.
It was a pickup game on the big field…mostly kids, but many of them are my size or close. They let me play up front because I can do less harm to the team up there. I’ve gotten noticeably slower the last year or so. I used to be able to make up for my lack of skill with decent speed. No more.
Anyway, the other team had scored on us. We were trying to equalize. I had played a couple of balls without embarrassing myself too much. The opposing goalie had already misplayed a ball or two that he had intended to send to a teammate. He’s a kid generally guilty of not paying attention very much. He placed the ball on the line in front of him and began looking for a person to receive his pass. He looked my way. I ran toward him. As he played the ball forward, I snuck in front of the defender. There was the ball on the ground in front of me. Without hesitation I swung my right foot under the ball which then rose into the sky and over the head of the aforementioned goalie’s outstretched hands. It drifted back down to earth and bounced into the goal near to the far post. Goal! The old white guy had scored a goal…and all by himself.
Interestingly, the moment was filled with severe reproach for the opposing goalie and not much adulation for the older white gentleman. At least that was my impression.
Still, it was a goal in a semi-serious situation. It’s a treasure for me…a happy memory in a very short line of soccer memories.
A Trip To Port-au-Prince For…A Hand Saw
If you live long term in Haiti, you’re supposed to have a PERMIT DE SEJOURS. It’s a legal document issued by the government of Haiti that must be renewed each year. The only time I’ve ever needed it is at the airport. A PERMIT DE SEJOURS is your ticket to entering Haiti without having to pay a $10 visitor fee.
I dropped off my PERMIT months ago in order for it to be renewed. The wisdom-filled director of the government office passed a decree that all foreigners must come and pick up their PERMIT in person. I had always sent a man to do that job for me since I live four or five hours away. I stopped in the office on my way to the USA and waited there for hours. The director was not in, so they couldn’t give me my PERMIT. On the way back into Haiti, I stopped by the office again. At the front door they told me I wasn’t going to enter the building with shorts on. As I was anxious to get ‘home’, I politely thanked the man and the gate and turned around. On October 12th I decided to make the trip to Port in order to take care of the document once and for all. The time to renew was approaching…again. I hired a driver. We got up early and drove to the capital city. I entered the building with my long pants on. I asked for my PERMIT and handed my Passport as ID. They put it on the counter and said, “Have a seat”. Ironic, in that there were no seats empty. I stood for an hour watching the mayhem that is a Haitian governmental office.
After one hour, I approached the people behind the desk. They informed me, “The director is in a meeting in the Presidential Palace right now. That could take all day. Come back tomorrow.”
I explained that I had come from Aquin just for this document. The one worker said, “That’s a problem.” I agreed. I asked if I could at least get a letter proving I had checked on my PERMIT in person as the rule requires. They giggled, and I left.
We stopped and priced a power saw on the way home. In the store we visited a power saw cost as much as a small motorcycle. I purchased and hand saw instead. We came home. We did eat a decent meal on the way home…cherry juice and all.
It was an expensive saw, and it took one day of my life to acquire it. It cuts wood, as you’d hope it would.
I heard the other day the director of the PERMIT office was fired. No reaction from me.
EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW
The local church where I attend and serve as Director of the Children’s Department celebrates its anniversary every October. The church was founded years before my arrival here. This was the 33rd anniversary.
For the past three years, I’ve been asked to compose a song for the week of services based on a theme. This year’s theme was EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO JESUS. I wrote the song quickly, by God’s grace, and prepared parts for trumpets and trombones…plus the usual bass, keyboard, and drummer.
The church members did an impressive job of decorating the church and organizing the week of services. A week-long activity doesn’t happen without tons of work. I used to be a major contributor to those kinds of things years ago. I’m delighted now to see people who genuinely sacrifice themselves to make the celebrations successful. It’s a sign of Christian faith when people give of themselves. I am always conscious of the fact that folks here are not living in abundance in many ways. Still they give and are blessed for giving.
I’ve always been blessed by watching people grow…children becoming young adults, etc. It’s a double pleasure to see a whole congregation develop and grow in strength. I remember dark days when our church was not a light in the community. That has changed. To God Be The Glory!
DOORS ARE THE HOLD UP
A lady in our town has four children. Three of them are members of the 11 to 14-year-old class I teach and Jr. Youth group. They also play brass instruments. There are impressive kids being raised with love and discipline, though their dad is pretty much out of the picture…living in a town up in the mountains.
They were blessed with a new house…two rooms…cement walls and floor. The tin roof was put on by fellow missionaries here in town. For months now, the new building has been sitting empty because the doors were not installed.
Thanks to carpentry skills I learned from watching my dad and brother, I felt able to take on the task of installing two doors. During the church conference I decided to not work in the mornings so that I could be fresh for the evening services every night. On a free morning, I went with Herold and installed the front door. It went into place easily. Two days later we spent the entire morning trying to get the back door right. It finally went into place after we changed sides.
I don’t do physical tasks here very much. I type all morning and teach all afternoon. Making stuff always feels good. Hanging a door felt good. The lady’s children are now painting the doors in order to make them last longer. Then they’ll move in to their brand new space. They’ve been living with neighbors for over a year now.
I remember the Ben Franklin proverb : Fish and visitors smell in three days.
I’m glad for the family. They are special people. It’s good to know they’ll be in a better space now that the doors are out of the way…so to speak.
Brass Band C
The ASAPH Brass Band began six years ago now. Here at ASAPH we began a second band of younger players over a year ago. They play in church sometimes with their own director, a student of mine. This month we put together several beginners who are just now able to ‘carry a tune’. It’s a small group, and they sound…elementary. But is a third group of brass musicians playing together here at ASAPH. The directors for that group are three students of mine. How I love watching them teach the things they have learned.
Just now I watched 13-year old lead a rehearsal of seven fellow students. He’s got great ears and plays trumpet and trombone. He led them well. They had fun playing their notes together.
Band is fun, and an awesome way to grow up.
ASAPH ACADEMY OF SOCCER
Our soccer academy is back in action after a break for the opening of school. Each Wednesday afternoon there will be a game. Our players are mixed in with some other players from town to form 4 complete teams. Our older players are doing all of the coaching and refereeing duties. The ASAPH academy is all about tomorrow, about preparing young people to be better citizens and leaders.
The other day I sat and watched 11, 12, and 13-year old players submit to their 17-year old friend who was wearing the referee jersey that day. I watched an ASAPH player try to lead his 11 younger players on the field with that delicate balance of strength and flexibility.
It’s just soccer. But it’s so much more.
ASAPH’s LITTLE LIBRARY
We’ve been trying to get a library going for a while now. It has opened a couple times already, but never successfully. This time I decided to set up a schedule with two young men who are (like so many) under employed. They sit with the books every weekday from 2:00 until 6:00.
It’s going well. I sent invitations to kids from two area schools, and since then we’ve had regular visitors. I’m watching the records to see how often visitors return. If we can get a group of people who visit regularly, we’ll be in a position to make some improvements.
It’s a small step, but families here in rural Haiti don’t have books. A library is a great thing. Kids flip pages and worlds open up. We have an encyclopedia in French (donated by a former student now in France). We have dictionaries. We have books in Creole, French, English and Spanish. Books for kids. Books for school students. You get the picture. Plus we have a good selection of Bible literature and reference materials.
The Asaph Library is all part of the ASAPH teaching plan. Every day from 2 until 6 while I am teaching music and other things, the ASAPH library books are busy teaching all kinds of subjects.
Missionary in Haiti.