Alberte and the violin

Answering Alberte’s Prayer

Playing the violin has always been a dream for Alberte. A tenth grader at Grace Emmanuel School, she has asked me multiple times if there is any way we could offer music lessons. Last June she asked us if she could ask her sponsor to send her a violin for her birthday.

Because we try to protect our sponsors from what could become a constant barage of requests for gifts, we discouraged her to ask directly but encouraged her to pray.

Alberte has prayed and prayed. And last fall, God began working to answer her prayers in the heart of a teacher over a thousand miles away.

Marybeth Khamis teaches strings at Mariemont High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. In November, she began organizing a group of her strings students to take a trip with Jesus in Haiti Ministries.

Seven months later, nearly one year to the date of Alberte’s violin request, Marybeth boards a plane to Port Au Prince with five students, two violins, a viola and two cellos in tow.

It is now just after 8 am on a Wednesday morning at Grace Emmanuel School in June, one of the last chapels of the year at GES.

The hum of excitement grows when the five budding Ohio instrumentalists take their positions in front of 260 students and start warming up. For many of the students, this is the first time they’ve heard a violin or seen a cello.

The laughter and conversation among the students drops to silence as notes begin to slide smoothly from the strings and the sweet sounds of Jupiter by Gustav Holst fills the air.

The laughter and conversation among the students drops to silence as notes begin to slide smoothly from the strings and the sweet sounds of Jupiter by Gustav Holst fills the air.

Alberte is sitting in the audience, watching the musicians intently. As the notes swell, her hope of playing these beautiful sounds also grows. A music teacher and violins, right before her very eyes. Has her prayer been answered?

After chapel is complete, I ask Alberte and three friends if they’d like to spend some time learning to play the violin with Marybeth. There is no hesitation. Yes!

No language barrier in music, the Ohio strings teacher begins to teach Alberte, Carline, Jennifer, and Manita how to play the violin, just as she has done countless times over decades of teaching in Ohio. The four girls and their new teacher spend over an hour intently focused on learning three basics of violin: holding, bowing, and finger placement to play the scale.

Carline plays
Alberte, Manita, Carline and Jennifer watch Mary Beth demonstrate how to use the bow
Alberte plays
Alberte plucks the violin
Jennifer plays
Jennifer practices bowing

After their time together, they are able to play a bit for their classmates, who delight in their friends’ musical skills.

God has such a beautiful way of answering prayers, but we know this prayer is not completely answered. We want to continue to be part of His work in providing opportunities for the students at Grace Emmanuel School.

We are praying that violins will make their way permanently to the school, as well as the funds to hire a music teacher to continue lessons for Alberte and more of our students.

Nathan Bucher served as the chair of JiHM’s Board of Directors from 2016-2018. Prior to joining the board, Nathan served in Haiti from 2012–2014 with his wife, Kristi. Nathan is now a pastor in Minnesota, where he lives with Kristi and their two kids.