Friday, October 30, 2015

"Vin ak pou we sa Bondye te fe: li fantastik nan deeds li ak fanmi moun."

"Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man."  Psalm 66:5

Awesome indeed!!!!  Today we built our 4th and final house.  Upon finishing construction, our last act is to present a lock and key to the family along with blessings, prayers, and a leather bound copy of the Bible which is printed in their native language of Creole.  Today's family consisted of a young man and his wife who are expecting their first child.  Our hearts are happy to know that baby will come into this world with a solid roof to rest under and a safe place to call home.

After lunch, we loaded the truck with 30 2x4x14 pieces of wood to take the the village of Grace which is the other active SIF construction site.  70 homes have been built thus far with 110 to go.  We were welcomed immediately as a cherished family member might be welcomed after a time away from home.  We received a tour through the village both of the new houses and the existing tents.  Even a quick glance into the homes revealed the simple and meager existence of the people who have been thrust together to make up this beautiful community.  Some images were very private, yet nothing was hidden from us.  It was a powerful testament to the trust that Greg and Cathie have built with the people of the village....and as their guests, we were welcomed with open arms.  

Though we were being led through the village by adults, our guides were actually the children of the community.  They seemed to come out of everywhere, holding our hands and laughing as we made our way around.  None of us could escape the power of these precious faces and sweet souls. After the tour concluded, it was playtime!!  Jenny found a baby that she certainly would have taken if given the chance.  Melissa could have used 4 sets of hands to tend to the little ones around her.  Elizabeth was surrounded by a sea of children so big we actually lost her for a little bit, and Dave and Kris turned into human jungle gyms.  There is nothing on earth like the embrace from a Haitian child, and when we had to get in the truck to head back the guesthouse, we weren't sure who had more fun during our or the children!

More good news for today....everyone's pants stayed in one piece and no goats or butterflys were harmed.  :)  Thanks to those who have been following our blog and who get that joke! 

Tomorrow is our last full day in Haiti.  How could it have gone by so quickly? We will rest well tonight looking forward to whatever the Lord has in store for us tomorrow.  Please pray for our hosts Greg and Cathie, for our Haitian brothers and sisters, and for those whom we have had the privilege to serve this week.  

With Christ's love,
Dave, Elizabeth, Jenny, Melissa, Kris, Greg and Cathie

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Bonswa! Good evening from Haiti.... God's grace and love were in full force today as we continued His work in the village of Montreal.  Since we cut and prepared our materials yesterday, we were able to get a head start on our day.  The location of our worksite took us to a different part of the village today and let's just say we got our exercise on the way there.    getting back up the hill to the truck at the end of the day was even better!!)  Maybe there was something in the air, maybe we are getting more efficient, or maybe it was just our imagination....whatever it was, the day seemed to fly by.  By the time we stopped to have lunch, the majority of the house was done, and once again we were on the verge of having the great joy and honor of presenting another family with their new home. That makes 3 completed homes for those of you who are keeping track.  :)

Our Haitian work team continues to amaze us.  They are so talented and they care so much not only for each other and the task at hand, but for us.  They watch over us like a protective parent, they teach us what we do not know like a wise teacher, and all the while, they are as patient and kind as anyone could be, as if we have always been friends.  There is no black or white us and them...only brothers and sisters of Christ.  It is beautiful to be a part.

In addition to working really hard, we are also having a lot of fun.  One might say, "what happens in Haiti stays in Haiti" but here are a few tidbits.  Jenny continues her efforts to save the world, particularly free-range goats and yellow butterflys.  Dave and Melissa both have pants that won't be making the trip home (you can use your imagination), and poor Elizabeth spends what seems like hours each day applying various forms of sunscreen because she believes her pale skin might actually melt in the Haiti heat.  Today we give special thanks for God's gift of laughter and the healing and happiness it provides.

Sadly our perfect safety record was broken today when one of our Hatian workers, Junior, smashed his thumb with a hammer.  We can only imagine he is experiencing great pain tonight due to his injury.  Please include him in your prayers.

Tomorrow is a new day and we are anxious to see what the Lord has in store for us.  Keep the prayers coming as we hope for rest tonight to prepare us for another day in His service.

With great blessings and love to all,

Dave, Elizabeth, Jenny, and Melissa (and Kris, Greg, and Cathie too!)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Thanks to the Lord who brought us another glorious day today in Haiti!  We were happy to find that we were more efficient today now that we had our first house under our belt.  Cutting and gathering supplies went quicker and we were like a well oiled machine.  This process took us 2 hours yesterday and we cut almost 30 minutes off that today.  We headed back to the village of Montreal to begin our 2nd house and we were thrilled to discover that the family's tent has already been dismantled and our work site was cleared and ready to go!        The afternoon was filled with another day of hard work and lots of sweat, paired with the excitement and joy of knowing that this family would not have to spend another night huddled under a tarp to keep from the rain sharing their space with bugs and rats and whatever else made its way into their tent.  

The afternoon brought a bit of light rain which was actually refreshing and some cloud cover which actually made it feel a bit cooler.  We made such good time today that we were able to come back to the guesthouse and get a head start on our preparations for tomorrow.  This work is truly addictive! The more we do, the more we want to do....  Saying goodbye to our work here will not be easy at the end of the week.  

We had the great honor of having Greg and Cathie join us at devotion tonight to share their God story.  It was such an inspiration to hear about their life and how Christ united them, brought them and their 4 girls to Haiti, and how He has led them through their mission for the last 19 years.  Through trials and tribulations, uncertainly and fear, they have given themselves to the Lord and in return he has worked miracles in their lives allowing them to touch the lives of countless Haitians, fellow missionaries, and team embers from across the globe.  The world is truly better place because of their Benson family.

Tonight we pray for good rest for the whole team, for continued safety, for the Haitian family who is spending their first night in their new home, and for those we will serve tomorrow.  

In His name,

Dave, Elizabeth, Jenny, and Melissa

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Greetings from the wonderful land of Haiti! What a day for our team....  We started bright and early by gathering, cutting, and loading all our materials for the day.  Plywood, concrete blocks, 25+ pieces of 2x4, sheet metal, and tools.  By the time the trucks were loaded for our trip to the work site, it already felt like we had put in a full day!

The village of Montreal has already received 75 homes though the efforts of SIF, with another 12 or so planned.  This is one of two tent cities where they have active sites at this time.  Although we had seen pictures and videos of the homes and people, nothing could really do justice to this amazing place.  Our Haitian work team is unbelievable!  Each of them has received a home from SIF and now they work along side Greg and his teams to make these homes a reality for other families.  All kinds of people from the village came out to watch...young and old, big and small, and many willing to lend a helping hand.  Our first task was to remove the contents and then demolish the tent that the family was living in.  Then immediately, the work of building their new home began.  

God is so alive here. His blessings are great and we see him everywhere! In the families we are serving, in the Haitians we are serving with, in the faces of the village children......  Only God could take a situation that might seem so bleak at a glance and reflect it in such a heavenly light.

Though we still have a few finishing touches to put on, we are proud that today before we left we were able to turn over a new, safe, dry, clean, and secure home.  Despite the fact that none of us knew what we were doing, we all jumped in.  Hammering, cutting tin, hauling supplies, meausuring, watching, learning, and loving the whole way through.  What a blessing to be a part of this mission.  

We had an incredible dinner followed by meaningful devotion time this evening, and now, it's time to rest!  We thank all of you for your thoughts and prayers....keep it coming!  We also hope you are sharing our story.  Who knows who you could inspire. :)  As for us, we continue to be inspired by the miracles of Haiti.  It is a honor to be serving here.

Stay tuned for more updates tomorrow!

With His love and blessings,
Dave, Elizabeth, Jenny, and Melissa

Monday, October 26, 2015

Greetings from Port-au-Prince, Haiti! We are pleased to let you know that our group arrived safely and on time last evening. While all of us have served in Haiti before, we are in unfamiliar surroundings this trip, so we left Columbus knowing we had many new adventures ahead. While still at the Columbus airport, we learned we had someone on our flights who was also heading to Haiti, what a small world! Imagine our continued delight when we discovered our new acquaintance was not only going to Haiti, but that he would be traveling to the same guesthouse and staying with us for the week!!! His name is Chris and this is his 4th trip this year alone, with SIF (the organization we are serving with). It was as if God looked down on us and actually said, "Do not worry, you are in good hands!"  

Our friends from SIF were there to welcome our group after we retrieved our luggage. One of our hosts, Greg was there to greet us and even in the cool darkness of the evening, it was easy to feel the warmth of his heart. We had an uneventful ride (thank you Fan Fan!) and were happy to arrive at the guesthouse to meet our other host for the week, Greg's wife Cathy. We hadn't eaten since our departure lunch in Columbus so we were very grateful that a wonderful meal was waiting for us too. We got our rooms, enjoyed a nice visit, and were ready to turn in for the night. Then.................Greg mentioned the Ohio State game. He was streaming it on-line and we spent the next hour and a half watching the rest of the 2nd half. What an unexpected treat and a wonderful way to begin our trip! And the win was icing on the cake, Go Bucks! :)

Attending church in Haiti is a joy that really cannot be explained to those who haven't experienced it first hand, and as a group we were genuinely looking to sharing a service today with our Haitian brothers and sisters. However, as it turns out, today is Election Day in Haiti which, without getting into the specifics of the political process, means it is not safe for us to leave the guesthouse. We learned all roads, churches, and many gathering places in all of Haiti are closed today to prevent protests and violence. While this is hugely disappointing, we are basking in the opportunity to get to know our hosts, their other guests (missionaries from the other side of the island, Steve and Faith, and Betsy) and to prepare our minds, bodies, and souls for the upcoming week. It is also a much needed and well deserved break for Greg, Cathy, Steve, and Faith from the demands of serving everyday here in Haiti. It's a bit of a challenge because we are all sooooo excited to get to work, but we are trying to focus on knowing that mission work isn't just about the "work" but about the relationships you build along the way.  

Speaking of our work, our goal for this week as we understand it now, is to build one house each day. Stay tuned to find out how it goes as its sure to be an adventure. Please pray for our hosts, for those we will be serving in Haiti, and for us that we might fulfill God's vision for us during the coming days, whatever that turns out to be. We have already experienced great blessings in the short time we have been here and we know there is more to come! 

In His name,
Dave, Elizabeth, Jenny, and Melissa

Arrived safely at 7:49 PM.
Port-au-Prince looks a lot different arriving at night.
All vehicles banned from roadways Sunday and all churches closed. No gathering allowed due to elections. Will worship at residence. 
Watched OSU via satellite out of Europe