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Haiti Update #1

Hello from Haiti!  It’s already our second day here at Haiti Arise, and time is passing by quickly.  The trip here went well, and we all arrived safely.

Travelling from the airport to Haiti Arise is definitely a real eye-opener.  When you’re used to living in Canada, you’re used to having certain amenities and living conditions.  In Haiti, a lot of people don’t have these, and live extremely different lives from us.  This was evident as we traveled from the airport to the Haiti Arise compound.  The difference is vast, and it is difficult to see and comprehend.  What we as Canadians see as big problems don’t even compare to what people face here.

Day 1 had us arriving close to supper time, so the rest of the day was just us settling in, and preparing for the next 9 days.  It was nice to be able to orient ourselves within the Haiti Arise compound, and to be able to prepare our hearts and minds for what is ahead.

Day 2 started with us touring the Haiti Arise compound, and the various sites that they own and manage.  They’ve got a lot of amazing facilities, from schools (including a technical school), family housing, to things like a medical clinic, and a goat farm!  We got to see a lot of the people that work with Haiti Arise, as well as people around the area.

In the afternoon, we started helping out with the various projects and tasks that are being worked on here at Haiti Arise.  A few of us helped out with the foundation for a new family housing complex (a lot more work to be done on this one), several people helped paint the computer lab within the technical school, and several other tasks were started on.  There is a lot more painting to do, pews to build (as the church here has outgrown the number of pews they currently have), as well as several other projects that Haiti Arise is working on.

Coming to Haiti Arise, I (Justin) expected to be here to serve and minister to the people here in Haiti, not expecting anything in return.  However, one of the first things that the staff here at Haiti said was to allow God to work in us and that we were all here for God to minister to us.  That made me think differently about the days to come.  While I want to see God use our team to minister to the people here in Haiti, this is also about God working in us as well.  God wants all of us to continue growing in Him, and this is just another step in our journey.

The last thing to note is that I should never complain about Saskatchewan drivers again.  Driving in Haiti is an experience in itself, and is hard to explain, except to say that it’s CRAZY!

Please continue to pray for us as we continue to experience what God has for us here in Haiti.  Pray for our continued good health, and that we’ll continue to trust in God as the days go on.

With blessing,

Justin Thomas on behalf of the Cornerstone Team

a report from the MDS team


Mark Dick: After leaving Saturday, undergoing an overnight delay and being rerouted from Calgary to Chicago the team finally hit Denver about midnight Sunday. We stayed at a hotel near the airport and came to the MDS camp early Monday morning. After an orientation and an early lunch, we headed to work on a variety of projects – drywall work (sanding and mudding), framing and sheeting a garage, and a variety of other tasks. Groups from Winnipeg and Pennsylvania are here as well. It was open mic night at the little bar and grill in town and a large portion of the group sang `Just a little talk with Jesus’ for the bar. Quite a first night! I have included a quick pic of the river that goes through town. Beautiful today…but a wild ride in 2013 when it took a number of homes along with it.

DREAMCENTER 2015: EXTRA DAYS! With student blogs from Spencer, Logan & Adam

Welp.  Arrived at the airport this morning to head home only to discover that our flight was cancelled.  SO… we get to spend another night in Phoenix!  Hotel here, then on to Winnipeg via Vancouver tomorrow, the night in Winnipeg and then finally on to home Tuesday morning.

As a result we’re getting some extra bonding time in… which is code for “no more clean laundry, so we are getting reaallllly comfortable with each other”.

It also gives us a chance to catch up on the last of the student blogs!  This morning we got to say our goodbyes to Kristian and Anna who both had a blast at the game last night.  I manged to get their names up on the jumbotron, and they both had so much fun.  This morning we got to meet Kristian’s two kids and fiance as they showed up for Sunday church, and got to pray with he and Anna as we wrapped things up.  Had to drag your kids out of there to get to the airport on time.  Good thing we weren’t late for that ;)

Here’s the blogs… then off to the pool!


Spencer Adams

My highlight of February 20th was going to Glenrosa. It was my favourite part of the day because there was a variety of things to do to help there from having conversations with adults to playing soccer with kids. I had a chance to talk to a guy who said he tries to go to all of the outreaches and that one was his favourite. When I told him I was from Canada he said he’s always wanted to go there, but he never could because he has problems with his hands when it’s cold. I was also playing soccer with a group of people and we noticed this one kid who was shy and got kind of left out because he didn’t know anyone. So we started talking to him and he told us his name, which was Avery. Once we started talking to him he wasn’t so shy anymore. (There was also this really cute baby pit bull.) So that’s why Glenrosa was my favourite outreach to go to.


Adam Fehr

I loved all of the outreaches, but if I had to choose which ones that I liked the most it would be CASS. This outreach had the most impact on my life, as it was so devastating to see how many homeless people need help just in that one part of Arizona. At first I didn’t know what to say to people, so I started out by bringing people coffee and giving a simple “God bless you”. Then later on I started to talk to them and really get to know them. I will specifically remember the one conversation that I had, where I asked this one person how they were doing, and they replied that they were alright and that they would be significantly happier as soon as they were off of the streets. One of the things that I very quickly noticed is, that the evangelizing that goes on in Arizona is much more different than in Canada. If you were to hold a sign reading “HONK FOR JESUS” on the streets of Canada, people would think that you were a little off in the brain. But in Arizona, that is the norm. Overall, this trip has really changed me and I wish to use what I have learned and find ways to use it back home.


Logan Larlham

I just wanted to talk about one of the aspects of the trip that was the most important to me. Each morning we went to the sanctuary to have church service, because we woke up at 5:20 am I was pretty tired for these church sessions every day and may have dozed off occasionally. I managed to fall asleep even with live country-Christian music, incredible testimonies from people who spent years in prison and/or strung out on heroin but found Christ. Saturday morning was different though, they had a guest pastor come in to speak, and his name was Pastor Zo. He had graduated from the program at the Arizona DreamCenter and went on to run a church in the streets of south central L.A. a notoriously rough area. I can tell you that that morning I was not falling asleep, even if I tried. He started the service off with rapping along to a Christian rap song, from artist LeCrae. He called this the “Christian cup of coffee” to wake us up, and it definitely piqued my interest. Starting from that moment until just over an hour later when he was finished, sweating and breathing heavy I never lost interest. He was a ball of energy who had an incredible gift for speaking. It was obvious that he knew who his target audience was, using analogies about selling crack, pimping, and living on the streets, and also dropping an N-word or two, but that did not stop me from enjoying it, and the message he was trying to get across. He quoted the passage Zephaniah 3:17 which reads “The Lord your God is with you, the mighty warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Which summed up the message behind his speech which was essentially ‘everyone needs saving, and the lord will save all’. I’ve been to quite a few different churches, and heard quite a few different pastors speak, but never one like Pastor Zo before. I don’t think I’m going to forget him anytime soon.Photo 2015-02-22, 9 58 46 AM (1) Photo 2015-02-21, 5 52 30 PM

DREAMCENTER 2015: Day 5/6 – Kids, kids, and more kids (Student blogs from Jared, Allison and Savannah)

Quick summary of the last couple days:

– 3 children’s outreaches (2 inner city, and one out to the Gila River Indian Reservation)

– 2 church services

– 1 afternoon at an outlet mall

– In-N-Out Burger (we are going again on the way to the Coyotes game tonight).


Your kids have been fantastic.  Always upbeat, and zero complaining.  For real.  Remember this, parents.

I’ll leave most of the details to the students in their blogs posted below, and then we can get to some pictures.  In about an hour and a half we are heading out to go to the Arizona Coyotes vs. Tampa Bay Lightning NHL game.  The exciting part is that we get to take our hosts with us!  I picked up a couple extra tickets and cleared it with their leaders and got day passes for both Anna and Kristian, and we got to surprise them yesterday with the invitation.  They have been awesome to work with, and have both really enjoyed being with our team too.  Looking forward to getting to take them to their first NHL game and turning them into rabid hockey fans.  We have been quite the stereotypical hit down here.

Off to the blogs!


Jared Fehr (from last night)

Friday was an interesting day. My highlight of that day had to be the morning, like we had to wake up and be ready to go to the outreach by 6:00am. The name of the outreach was Ocotillo. It was by far my favourite part. Ocotillo is a children’s outreach where we basically go there and play games with the kids. This was our second day going to this outreach. So when we got there I went and sat down at a table, waiting for more kids to show up because it usually takes around 10 minutes for most of the kids to show up. So when they showed up around 10 minutes later and we set up all the games, then Tristan sat down at my part of the table and we started playing some marble game where we move marbles from one place to another and it’s really confusing to explain. He beat me quite a bit at it and then when I fully understood the game I beat him once and it was fun, he beat me so many times but it was lots of fun. Then he took out the game of Trouble. I remember when I played Trouble as a kid. We played with 3 players. Me, Tristan, and Savannah. He beat us the first game. Then we beat him the second game because it is nearly impossible to let him win this game. After we finished that the kid left and we went and prayed in a circle for the kids. Then we went outside and played football with the kids. After that we left and had breakfast around 8:00am. I don’t quite remember what we had. After that we went to Outlet and did a little bit of shopping because it was one of our last days here. Then later that night, after supper we went to another outreach, this one was on the Southside. This outreach was different then lots of the others. The kids at this place seemed way more hurt then all of the other outreaches. Like one kid was hitting a pole with a plastic baseball bat and they knocked my hat off and seemed a little more aggressive. I could see this was a harder neighbourhood to live in. We played basketball with the kids till around supper, and it was a pretty intense game. I was sweating by the end of it. Then we gave hotdogs to the kids and some older person gave a lesson about how Moses got the Israelites out of Egypt. And I gave out prizes and stuff to the kids and I talked to the kids about Jesus then we left. This outreach was about 4 hours. When we got back we debriefed then I was so tired around 10:00pm and I went straight to sleep. And that was that day.


Savannah Smith and Allison Egland

Hello this is Allison and Savannah! Our day at the Phoenix Dream Center we woke up pretty early and went to a daycare like little apartment and there was about 15 kids in this tiny 2 bedroom apartment. It was very inspirational listening to a little boy, named Israel, pray. He was so faithful and prayed for all the kids there. CASS is an outreach near downtown Phoenix where they feed homeless people breakfast and pick up garbage and interact with these people. At CASS I only saw a little group of homeless people but then we turned the corner and I saw LOTS more. It was sad to think of how many people were homeless. We had very brief but lovely conversations with some of them. We also went on a Crosswalk which is when a group of people go out on the street and evangelize. Some of us carried signs and some carried crosses. One night we went to the southside outreach (located in a high poverty neighbourhood). There was lots of children and we all had fun playing in the sand and playing basketball and listening to stories. A little boy came up to me (Savannah) Karleigh and Allison and pretended to shoot us with his toy gun. He had said that he was going to get a real gun and shoot every single person with this gun and that he wouldn’t care. When we had said the Lord wouldn’t have wanted that, he said that he would just shoot him too. It was sad to think that a child not yet the age of 10 was thinking of these things and what they grow up. We had a great childhood but this child has so much anger in him that he just resorts to thinking of shooting people. There was a little girl there named Jada who was sitting on my (Allison) lap while she was eating her soup. I was holding her bowl for her and at one point she offered me some of her soup, which I thought was really cool. Who knows the last time she had a meal and here she was offering someone she just met food. Glenrosa was our last outreach and our favorite one out of the whole trip. The best part was the face painting. Allison was the canvass for a lot of people, and Savannah read the story of Noah and the Ark to the children. It was a life changing trip and we will carry all of these memories with us forever. See you soon at home! :)



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Finishing up at CASS

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Best Photobomb of all time. Between Savannah and Jared. In-N-Out employeee… INSIDE the building.

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Gila River Reservation. We set up shop on a dilapitated cement pad. Sky was incredible, with the desert mountain in the background rising out of nowhere.

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Gila River Reservation

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Gila River Reservation

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Gila River Reservation

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Gila River Reservation

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Gila River Reservation

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Gila River Reservation

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Ocatillo Outreach

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Ocatillo Outreach

DREAMCENTER 2015: DAY 4 – The Day Every Other Burger Became Second Rate

In-N-Out Burger.  Sooooooo good.

Austin (Goyer) has a full run down of the “actually important” stuff of the day, so I’ll let him do the heavy lifting, but I did want to get one little story in:

The staff here at PDC do not receive a salary.  Their room and board is covered, and they are free to take a side job if they can fit it around commitments, but realistically, many do not have additional time, after the 50-60+ hours a week they put in here.  As a result, small surprises can be big hurdles.

Such was the case for Eric, one of the staff members who led one of our outreaches yesterday.  He stopped me yesterday morning in the parking lot to ask if I could help him out, and fix his steering column on his truck. (He clearly does not know me). It was stuck in park, and needed a new part, as well as a mechanic to come on site and fix it as he could not afford the tow.  He had managed to work out a deal for $200 to get it fixed.  In the course of the conversation I realized he only had $85 bucks to his name, and was gonna see if the guy would do it for that, on faith that he would eventually get the rest. I mentioned this story to our team this morning, and by noon, your kids had all contributed out of their own pocket and their own “shopping money”.  When I found Eric this afternoon – a man our kids spent maaaaybe two hours with – he was dumbfounded when I handed him $135 bucks in cash.

I am so proud of your kids.  Their simple response to the nudging of the Holy Spirit and their gift affirmed a weary and concerned man.  As tears welled in his eyes I was awed at the graciousness and tenderness of your kids, who didn’t want to draw any attention to it.

But I am so honoured and humbled to also call them MY kids.

Take it away Austin (pictures tomorrow):


Today we had a little bit of a rude awakening because our alarm clock didn’t go off. We all woke up to the sound of Anna and Kristian pounding on our door at 6 o’clock when we were supposed to be up and leaving at 5:50. But even in the midst of being in a rush to get to CASS to handout food, pick up garbage and help the homeless, God showed up big and just as we were getting there, so was the food truck. I think that God always has a plan, whether big or small, to help you when you really need it (When you are literally out of time to get ready and then have to go serve, that’s definitely a time when you really need it.) Everyone was challenged today by Stephen to do something different than whatever we did yesterday at CASS. Today, instead of handing out coffee, Stephen and I went around the block to pick up trash. A man from the Dream Center approached us as we were collecting some garbage (so was he) and told us how much he himself as well the city and the homeless truly appreciated something as small as picking up small pieces of trash. The cleaner it is, the longer the police and the city will allow the homeless to stay in the morning to sleep and get food. It was such an indescribable feeling to know that what we were doing was small, yet effecting the bigger picture and delivering a much bigger message. The 2nd outreach that we did was at a care home for people severely disabled by old age and sickness. First we sang some songs of worship, then people were called, including myself, to talk about what God has been doing in their lives recently. As the outreach concluded, the man leading the outreach, Cody, called for any final prayer requests. There was only one, from an older woman in the front who asked for healing. She described to us that she had breast cancer, which spread to her right side and her spine/neck area. She told us that she has a lot of pain, and that she was a strong believer in prayer and called for us to pray over her for healing. Though I joined in the prayer, I was still deeply hurt by the experience. Though I know God will heal her, whether it’s on this earth or in the Kingdom of Heaven, it was painful to witness her pain and see her cry at the conclusion of the prayer. Her faith comforted me, but you wrestle with the fact that I may never see her again, and she is in God’s hands. It was personally the lowest moment and feeling I have had on this trip. Though it has been an unforgettable experience thus far, that moment will stay with me spiritually for a very long time. The 3rd and final outreach was at the Gila River Reservation where we set up a movie, face-painting table, a table with food, and played basketball and threw footballs with all the kids at the reservation. It was a great experience being down there, surrounded by all of God’s beauty in the heart of some huge mountains and just getting to spend some time with some children who just need a helping hand in getting to know Jesus. The song “Jesus Has a Plan for My Life”, complete with a set of actions, has been a big theme at all the children’s outreaches we’ve done so far. The song was sang at the reservation and all the kids were singing and just having a great time moving closer and closer to God. It was a very refreshing experience, as all of the children’s outreaches have been, to see children in some unfair situations let go of some of their worries and sing and have some fun for a few hours. Even something as small as handing out small cups of nachos with cheese sauce to them made them smile (especially when lots of them came back for a second cup. That made me smile too.) So far, it’s been an unbelievable and amazing week. I can’t wait to see what God has planned for us for tomorrow and Saturday because each day He just seems to stretch all of us even further and put us farther and farther outside of our comfort zone to accomplish something we were unsure we could do at first. I will leave off with a verse that I’ve just come to know today. “The lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.” – Nahum 1:7