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Reflections

Hey Cornerstone family, Michael here. Today was our last one here in Haiti and it was hard to say goodbye. As excited as each of us is to go home and see our family and friends it is hard to leave this place. The people we have met and the things we have got to do and see won’t easily be forgotten.

Today was a day to finish up a few little things and say our goodbyes as well as relax as we prepared to go home. The morning started with a trip to the market. This was a neat experience for many on our team as we have nothing even close to it at home. Trips like this help open our eyes to the world and realize just how good we have it in Canada.

We then finished up a few small items, like putting the pews we finished into the church and saying our goodbyes to those we had worked with. Our team then spent the afternoon at the beach relaxing after a long nine days.

Rather than only tell you what we did today I want this blog to give you a snapshot of some of my highlights from the entire trip. So be forewarned this may be a bit longer as there was a lot!

One of my absolute favorite things from this trip was getting to work on the construction of a new duplex at the Children’s Village. Not only were we getting to work on something our church had given money to, it was also where we were able to work alongside locals. For the most part Justin, Lowell and myself were doing this and I think I speak for all of us when I say that a highlight of our trip was getting to know the guys we worked with. The relationships we built with them will not be forgotten and it was sad to say goodbye. As a farewell, we went out today one last time and brought each of them a coke as a parting gift.

Another huge highlight is our times of worship at church. Seeing the Haitians worship without reservation has been an amazing thing to witness. There is so much we can learn from then on how to worship and rely on God fully. Although we came down to serve, there is so much we have gained from our time here. In the same vein, I absolutely loved my time at Tapion which is a church plan of Haiti Arise that is solely for children. Kids walk long distances to worship together and grow in their faith. I was absolutely amazed at these young children who took their faith so seriously and it was a challenge for me to grow in my faith as well.

Every evening we have a team debrief time. A couple days in Venessa was mentioning that she missed being able to worship in English. So we grabbed a guitar and sang a couple songs. It was such a great time that we decided to do the same thing every night. This has been such an amazing time of worship, refreshment, and connection with God. This experience I believe really brought our team together and I will truly miss this time when I go back home.

My final highlight and maybe the most impactful for me was getting to see each member of our team using their gifts to serve God. We came as a group with many different talents, gifting, and skills but each and every one of us found a place to serve and connect. Whether it was Mitch building pews or Abby leading worship or any of the other members of our team doing various different things, each was able to use their gifts for his glory. Throughout this trip, we have all grown closer together as a group and have grown closer to God as we work to serve him. I was so truly blessed to get to lead this team of individuals. They made my life easy by coming with servant hearts and a desire to follow Gods leading.

But now it time to head to bed as we are leaving the compound at 4 am. Please pray for us as we travel home. All of us are excited to get to join with you all this Sunday once again.

Michael Streilein on behalf of the Cornerstone Team   

Visitation

What a wonderful time it has been here in Grand Goave, Haiti!.   It has been so good getting to know each person on our team better!  What a great/fun team we are!!   Here’s a few pieces of information that you may not have heard yet: There have been 15 short pews made and stained twice, ready for use, 10 long pews made and have been stained once; we have used a total of 5 gallons of stain/varnish, 7 gallons of white paint (in the new school), 7 gallons of cream-colored paint (in the Tech School).

This afternoon some of our team had the privilege of going out into the community and do some visiting and meeting people in their backyards.   What a blessing it was, we met one couple where the man was totally blind, they were so welcoming and we were able to pray for them.  A beautiful Christian couple, they requested prayer for continued knowledge of God and that their faith would grow.  The second place we stopped at was right next door to a voodoo temple!   The gentleman there was also interested in what we were doing in Haiti and allowed us to pray for him.  I can’t imagine what it would be like as a Christian living next to this temple.   The last place was speaking to a group of women and their children, they also were receptive to us sharing a testimony and also praying for them.   For most of us, this visitation took us out of our comfort zone, but God helped us share testimonies and prayer time.   So if you are reading this please remember to also pray for these individuals.

God is so present and at work here at Haiti Arise, it is so exciting to see what He is doing here.  The fact that they need more pews because there are so many people attending church is so encouraging.  One of the highlights for me is to worship together with the people here Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday!  Also worshipping together with the team on the roof, under the moonlight has been awesome!   Another highlight was meeting the little boy that I sponsor! He is absolutely cute and very shy!

Tomorrow we will visit the local market and then maybe some beach therapy!!!!    Thank you all for your prayers!

Loretta Penner on behalf of the Cornerstone Team

Busy day, but not too busy for a soccer break

Warm greetings from the Haiti Mission Team – Iona here

We had a very busy work day today. Mitch worked on building pews, while Loretta and myself sanded pew boards all day. There was a group who went to the children’s village to paint the raw cement walls. They took some time out in the morning to play soccer with the children at recess. The older kids really got into it and had lots of fun. The younger children only wanted the ball and not to play with the team. They had fun playing by themselves.

We do need your prayers regarding the heat. The generator used for the airconditioners is not in use. Last night was very warm as the air was on for short periods of time. Wade has been working on getting parts to repair the generator. He got the part the thought would work at 5 pm today and we were hoping that this would work. Alas, it did not so now we will have no air conditioning tonight. So, this will be a small grace grower for the group. We are getting along well and are getting to know the team from Red Deer Crossroads.

I am so glad that God gave me the nudge to come on this mission trip. This is something I have always wanted to do. I am more and more convinced of the benefits and long-term vision of Haiti Arise. The children are amazing and are so excited about going to school every day. They are so cute. They run up to us saying “you, you”. They touch us and jump on us and some ask us our name. There is a committed group of support staff and interpreters. The cooks have been amazing, no complaint about the food. It was good to be working on pews for the church here that is growing and in need of more seating for Sunday mornings. All these things working into the plans and vision of Haiti Arise.

By the way Len, Its a boy. We now have a little Haitian child to add to our family

Love to all

Iona Bachiu on behalf of the Cornerstone Team

Church and Rest

Hi from Haiti!!! Venessa here.

Sunday a day of rest and that is what it felt like. The power last night was not consistent so therefore the A/C was not consistent. Sleep was not found easily for a few of us. I am not sure what the temp was overnight but this afternoon I found out it was 29*C with humidity felt like 40*C. I did not sleep well so a nap after church was very welcome.

Church service started at 8 but most of the locals went to Sunday School at 7. We situated ourselves in the direct path of the fans. The ushers then proceeded to move all people up to fill the pews starting at the front.  This ended us in the warmest possible part of the church with almost no air movement. God was there though. I was in awe of how fully a person can give themselves to worshiping God and how I was in a building full of them.

Like I said, quite a few of us had a nap or two today either before lunch or after…that’s what Sundays are for.

In the later afternoon, 6 of us and 5 members of the other team headed to Tapion. It is a church plant from the church here at Haiti Arise that for the most part, only children attend. There were over 50 kids and a few adults. Since we were visitors they asked us to share, we led them in a few songs and then both Michael and Abby shared their testimonies. It is a church full of kids that weren’t forced there and aren’t there to get a snack or even play games. The children were there because of their faith and desire to follow God. God is alive in Haiti.

Sundays are a day of rest so the kitchen staff is not here…but they do leave us a bit of food for lunch. It was a surprise to me to see the outdoor kitchen full of ladies this morning. After asking some questions I found out that they were making food for a prison visit. Here if someone doesn’t bring you food while in prison you don’t eat. In Canada, you are innocent until proven guilty… In Haiti, you are guilty until proven innocent. This means there are some innocent people in jail that can’t seem to prove themselves innocent. Haiti Arise has started helping with this. They have hired some lawyers to help get those innocent people out of jail. Today another group was heading to visit the prison with some food. With the help of some willing ladies that cooked up over 250 meals for the guards and prisoners, they were off. Oh how I prayed for these ladies and how I believe they must have prayed over every meal they prepared. Thank God for them.

Due to no cooks, we went out for supper. It was really fun to go out of the compound for a meal.  A driver didn’t show up so Mitchell got to drive. He seemed pretty excited about it and no one died….

On that note there is a plan to try to keep us cool tonight so here is hoping for a good nights sleep as the work will continue tomorrow. Pews, painting, children’s village construction…

Good night

Venessa Patkau on behalf of the Cornerstone Team

 

Fun In The Sun

Hey Family and Friends back home!

Lowell here checking in.

Being Saturday we would typically have the day off and go to the market in the morning, but because there are two teams here they sent the other team to the market and we continued working on projects.  We will head to the market sometime next week.

Some of our team continued working on pews, others went to the children’s village to paint a classroom in the elementary school, and Abby, Justin, and I got to teach English to an adult class in the technical school.  The 8:00 am class promptly started in typical Haitian style around 8:45 am.  There was a CD player to play audio for some of the lessons, but (also in typical Haitian style) that didn’t work.  Not a big deal, we got through the lessons just fine.  This was a new experience for all of us and we really enjoyed it.  The class started a bit slow, but eventually they were all very engaged and it was a really fulfilling experience.  At one point Justin was explaining part of the lesson where he would say “it is… ” or “that is…” and the Haitians would fill in words.  He pointed to me and said “he is…?” to which they responded with things like “a man”, “skinny”, and “from Canada”.  Justin then pointed to Abby and said, “she is…?” to which some of the men promptly responded with things like “beautiful”, “pretty”, and “cute”.  We had a good laugh and Abby may have blushed just a little bit.

In the afternoon we headed to the beach.  Even though I’ve been there a few times in the past it is still always a humbling experience to see this wonderful earth that God has created.  We brought some goggles to the beach and were able to find many small fish and other creatures such as jellyfish, starfish, crabs, and sea urchins.  Mitch found a new friend named Jim.  Jim is a crab that lives in a seashell he brought back to the compound.  I don’t think Jim is going to last too much longer.  We got to eat lobster on the beach.  That was a great treat.  No one left looking like a lobster so I would say it was a successful trip.

The evening was pretty chill.  We spent some time with our group debriefing on the day and singing worship songs on the roof in the rain.  It’s crazy to think that we are over half way done the trip! We have done some great work so far and there will be more to come next week.  The highlight of the trip for me so far has for sure been seeing my sponsor child.  Her name is Danifara. Ann and I sponsored her in 2014 when she was 3.  She is now 6 years old.  I met her on Thursday and she was shy and timid at first, but you could tell she was quite excited to see me (maybe more so for the bag of goodies I had for her).  Later that day we had VBS. Danifara was there and she was a lot less shy.  When she found me she came running up and gave me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek.  This was a pretty special moment for me.  I’m looking forward to when I can give my wife and baby boy a kiss on the cheek back home as well.

Lowell Reinhart on behalf of the Cornerstone Team