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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Stuck in Dallas...

Well we left Port-au-Prince yesterday the 19th of March nice and early in the morning. We all were sad to leave the new friends that were made but on the other hand we were looking forward to seeing friends and family back home and sharing our many stories that had added up throughout the week. The flight from Haiti to Florida was nice, customs wasn't that bad. The flight from Florida to Texas wasn't that bad either. But then...things got ugly. As we were shuttling from one terminal to the next it was obvious that there was a mean storm ah brewing outside. We assumed it would blow over before our flight and all would be good but that was not the case. Our flight was delayed time after time, and our confidence dwindled and eventually hit rock bottom. The flight ended up getting canceled and we had to go back to the main ticket desk and get new boarding passes. We didn't know what was going to happen but after circling up and saying a prayer our nerves calmed. We called the airline 1-800 number and got great news!! Our party had already been rebooked but not until the following day at 8pm. So as you have probably figured, we have been camping out at gate D6. Time has been spent laughing, playing cards, and taking turns trying to get some shut-eye on the complimentary cots. T-minus five hours till we board. Arriving at LEX has never sounded so good!!

-Bryce Toole & Maria Cranor

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Before this trip I noticed that I would be spending my twenty-sixth birthday in Haiti but by mid week I had completely forgotten about it. I feel God was working in me, teaching me to be humble and to focus on why I was here in the first place. I came to Haiti not for a get away spring break vacation; I came to Haiti to share God’s love and a smile.
Today was a rewarding day of rest. The team and I woke early and after a belly full of biscuits and gravy we were off to the top of the mountain to a breath taking overlook. After the fifteen-mile truck ride, which took two hours due to traffic, because that’s just how it is in Port-au-Prince, we pulled up to like I said a “breath taking overlook.” We enjoyed looking out over Port-au-Prince, pointing out buildings we recognized from afar and thanks to Michael for pointing out where we have been working and staying over the week here.
We packed up and were off to the Baptist Mission Organization compound. There we were able to check out their museum, walk along the street stopping by venders buying gifts and taking it all in, and to put the icing on the cake we were blessed to have yet another break taking overlook, this time for lunch.
The descent from the mountain was nice and relaxing (big thanks to Michael for being such a safe and relaxed driver today and throughout the entire week!!).
We arrived back to the O.M.S. house and enjoyed a dip in the pool while others enjoyed a much-needed nap (myself included).
Supper was and is always a great time of fellowship and story telling while enjoying Haiti’s many different native flavors. The full time missionaries, David and his wife Marylyn, were so thoughtful and arranged a cake and ice cream for my birthday. They sang happy birthday to me and fun was had by everyone. While thanking David I told him about my grandfather and how he served with O.M.S some time ago and sure enough David remembered him. David said that my grandfather was here David’s first time to Haiti and how nice of a man he was. Hearing that made my day and I know my grandparents are smiling in heaven knowing that their grandson is in Haiti.

- Bryce Toole

Friday Report

There are a few things that Haiti has taught me. First, is that no matter where you go in this world, Justin Bieber WILL find you- no matter what.
But the thing that Haiti has most taught me is that happiness is attainable in any situation. I’ve spent a lot of time in reflection this week, studying my new Haitian friends. And the overwhelming feeling I get from my new friends is the feeling of happiness. Pure happiness. From delighting over an empty bottle being a new toy, to having a new home after a devastating earthquake and all that is in between- my Haitian friends know how to be happy where they are. And it’s more than inspiring.
I think I can speak for the whole group when I say being here has been surreal. Even as I sit in Port Au Prince, Haiti I have a hard time grasping that God actually placed me here and allowed me to experience that happiness. But more so, I have a hard time grasping that God wanted to actually use me here.
Tonight in debriefing our overwhelming feeling was a feeling of humility. As we sat and reflected on what God accomplished through us this week, we found it so amazing that God desired to share the glory He received this week with us. We all sat for a moment in complete awe that God let us share in what He was doing in the lives of our new Haitian friends- and then we sat for another minute and reflected on how all of us have given a huge part of our hearts to Haiti and it’s beautiful people.
As we prepare in the next few days to leave this place we have called home for a miniscule week, there’s a bittersweet feeling among our group. There’s an overwhelming feeling of joy- but there’s also that twinge of sorrow. Sorrow for having to leave this beautiful place- but joy that it has changed us.
There is still much to be done in Haiti. But I know for myself that there is so much comfort in God’s words to the Apostle John in the book of Revelation. Revelation 21:5 says, “He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write these things down, for these words are trustworthy and true”
My prayer for my group is that we would allow God to continue to make everything new in our lives as He has done this week. And I pray that God would constantly make Haiti and her precious people new in Him.
I ask that as fervently as I know you all have been praying for this team and this country, that you would continue to lift this place and these people up for God’s glory.
Always In Christ,
Ashlee for the group

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sowers and Reapers

Jesus tells the parable of the sowers and the reapers. He tells of some workers preparing the ground, others planting the seed, and still others reaping the harvest. It seems that our experiences here have some of those qualities. We’ve been separated into two teams this week, and it seems that one team has consistently worked on the beginning of tasks of each build. While the other team has experienced the reaping of the harvest. On Tuesday, while Team Tim carried concrete blocks over a bridge 200 yards to the house, Team Jeff was blessed to witness the ribbon cutting ceremony officially turning the house over to the owner. Today, Team Tim started work on a new house hauling dirt for the new foundation. Team Jeff poured a layer of concrete to cap the walls that Team Tim built yesterday.

While our teams have had different experiences, we all recognize that we are here for the same goal: to spread the love of Jesus. In the evenings, we come together and celebrate each others victories during the day. We get to tell stories and laugh at everyone’s crazy days in Haiti. It isn’t a competition between us. Just as in the parable, we recognize that we are all sowers. Our work in Haiti will be complete this week, but the work of God goes on.

I once heard a pastor speaking about the story where Jesus speaks about planting good seed. For sake of brevity, the concept comes alive when you understand that the way farmers planted back in the days of the first disciples was backwards from how we do it today. Rather than plowing the field and then planting the seed, the farmers would scatter the seed and then the plow would come afterwards. This is God’s design for missions; some scatter seed, some reap the harvest, and some do both. I would say we fall into the last category, coming into Haiti and being met by open arms and warm hearts due to the impact the missionaries before us have had, we got to reap much of their harvest. However, the seeds that we planted in the lives of individuals on the worksites (although some fruit has been born) will not bear fruit until perhaps years after we have gone. It’s important to look at the Kingdom of God in this way because it gives you the right perspective, the fruit was never ours to witness, it was His all along and any bit we get to partake in is, simply, a blessing.

It is with a heavy heart that we have to inform our readers of the death of one of our team member’s mother. Zack Brewer’s mother, Terri Moore, was killed Thursday morning in an automobile accident. Zack and our team leader, Nathan Waggoner, are leaving Haiti Friday morning to return to Kentucky. Please pray for safety in travel, comfort in grieving, and peaceful hearts. This one’s for you, Zack.


Message from Zack:

It’s hard to imagine anything more surreal than being overseas, in a county so far removed from one’s own culture that I had forgotten bathrooms exist, and hearing news of a loved one—someone who has been with me my entire life—having passed away. The news from my father echoed in my head for, well, I don’t know how long, before I collapsed in a heap by the side of a truck in tears. I was immediately surrounded by my dozen or so teammates with whom I had traveled halfway across the hemisphere and was prayed over. Half-an-hour earlier, I was shoveling gravel into a bucket and serenading the nationals with “Hey Jude,” and now this.

I don’t tell the story like that to garner sympathy or to paint a morbid picture, but to say this: once I was encircled by my fellow workers and being prayed for, Haitians began to come out of their homes and take notice. They stared, probably not knowing exactly what it was they were looking at, but understanding the pain I was in. I’m sure there wasn’t a single person in the camp who hadn’t been devastated by the earthquake or poverty or anything else that happens in this crazy world. They saw my pain juxtaposed with the love of Jesus and the healing power of prayer—pain and love are universal, and I hope that everyone involved saw that they are not mutually exclusive. Today all twenty-something of us shared in the pain of losing Terri Moore. Little children laid hands on me and nationals stood silently in knowing grief and empathy. Following Christ means making sacrifices. Following Christ means loving and being loved. Following Christ means to be in pain. Had I not been in Haiti, where I know God has called me, things most assuredly would have turned out differently for my family. But, for one reason or another, that’s not what God had planned.

I can take solace in knowing that she is an infinitely better place than this world. I can take solace in knowing that from my Mom’s death, God will be given glory. I can take solace in knowing that the love of Christ is with me always, “even unto the end of the world.”


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Building Memories while Building Homes

Day… 3

Tomorrow, our two groups switch worksites. This is great for a number of reasons, but also kind of hard for others. Great because we will be able to experience the stories we were told by the other group during debriefing… We will get a taste of another part of Port Au Prince… We will be able to meet other interesting people as well. It will be hard because we may not have a chance to see those people that we met during our first two days again. We’ll have pictures and memories but we may never get to see them in person.. They have left a very positive imprint on our memories and we hope we left the same for them.


Its awesome whenever we meet someone who knows Jesus here. We made a friend named Renoud. He read us scripture in Creole and translated into English as he went along. Without fail, If one of us asked him to do something or come hang out he would say in a very ‘chill’ voice, “I got no problem…” What if we all had that attitude. We read a scripture that tells us to do something we aren’t comfortable with…. “I got no problem.” We have strenuous week of tests and assignments… “I got no problem.” We lose our home in a natural disaster… “I got no problem.”



-Bryce Ury

P.S.   You learn things on mission trips… For instance… One does not simply push a wheelbarrow full of cement blocks across a makeshift bridge over a “stream” (you’ll understand the quotation marks when you see the picture below) without almost spilling your heavy cargo  all over a giant hog while it eats garbage. These things take practice…  wednesday-2        


We finished construction on the house this morning and were blessed to take part in the ribbon cutting ceremony.  Madam Hortense, the new homeowner, wanted to express her gratitude to us so she invited the build team into her new home for worship and a meal.  We were served ice cold drinks and egg sandwiches (all 25 of us), which was a huge undertaking for her and a great blessing to us.  Smiles were shared and prayers were prayed over the house.  We laughed, we cried, we ate some egg, what more could you ask for in a ribbon cutting ceremony?


After the ceremony we drove five miles to visit three houses built by the OMS Homes for Haiti project and visited with the families that live there now.  We spent time playing with the children and talking to the parents.  The kids really loved the toys and snacks we gave them, and everyone (adults included) had a blast playing soccer with a tennis ball.  It was such a blessing to see how much impact one home can have on so many people.


We got back to the compound early so we had time for a rewarding dip in the pool before supper (which was a great meal, as always).  After supper we walked across the street to a kids club so that we could visit with more kids and pass out some t-shirts. 


-Bryce Toole, Beka Mech, & James Nix

Blessed Beyond Belief

Editors note:  We split today into two groups and worked on two different projects, so this is an extra long post with lots of pictures from two worksites…. Enjoy!

It’s amazing to see how so many people, who know little to nothing about one another, can work together for a common goal. Yesterday, I was in the United States getting ready for take off in my fifth or sixth flight in my entire life. Today, myself and thirteen other people were in Haiti, working together to build homes for two Haitian families and it was an experience that I will never forget. Aside from the wonderful time that I had working with my teammates, and it was a wonderful experience, the most rewarding part of the day was interacting with so many Haitians. Children carried cinder blocks, that probably weighed more than they did, helped shovel gravel and begged for Polaroid pictures. Older Haitians, who received no pay for their work, simply picked up wheelbarrows and tore cinder blocks from our hands and carried them back for us! They were so helpful, caring and appreciative and it humbled me and shook me to my core.


Today opened my eyes to just how blessed I am to be born in a country like the United States.Simple things like clean water, safe shelter and even traffic laws are taken for granted so easily. Haitians drink and bathe in the water that they throw their trash in and so many complain because they have to drink tap water. Yet even with living conditions as bad as these, Haitians are so exuberant and cheerful. Just one day and already I have realized just how much God has blessed me and continues to each day of my life. This day has been one of the most wonderful of my life.  I have never been happier to leave my comfort zone.

Sarah for the team


Jumping into a flatbed truck at 7 a.m. and slipping into the chaotic Haitian traffic is a fantastic way to start a morning!  :)  We had the opportunity to work along side a team from the University of Kentucky.  Then we arrived at the job site and immediately went to work.  We are working on a home that is almost completed, and it should be ready for the family by the end of the week.  It’s exciting to know that this family will have a home in just a few days.  Our tasks included removing the rubble that was alongside the house, finishing the roof, putting up the ceilings, and building trusses. 

IMG_9773DSC00786  DSC00796 100_2280 100_2291


One of the best parts about today was getting to know and share stories with some of the Haitian people.  Our new friends were more than happy to volunteer to work with us after watching us from the nearby wall that surrounded the home.  Wilbur, who knew some English, was excited to teach us some Creole and in return we taught him some English.  In talking he asked if we prayed to Jesus and asked for prayer for himself and his country.  We were extremely grateful for the hard work of these men who joined us, and who rarely stopped except for a drink of water. 

Although the day was long and strenuous, it was a rewarding feeling felt by all. We got to put our hammering skills to work, and those who were not so skilled were able to gain some practice.  :)  Working alongside the nationals was a great experience.  It was wonderful to see that people from two completely different areas can come together and teach one another.  We aren’t just here to help the people of Haiti without gaining something in return.  Instead, they are returning the favor and sharing their lives and stories with us. 

Jill and Abby for the team!