*This post was written June 13

It’s right at 5 PM Central time and I am currently in an airplane flying to Chicago.  As many of you know, I wasn’t scheduled to depart Haiti until June 24, but the death of my last remaining grandparent means my trip had to be cut short.  As much as I know I was down there doing God’s work, my family is important, and they need me now.  The work there isn’t done, but my major project is darn close.  I am confident the team there now will fix it.  Nick and David are both very capable and Nick has been my right hand man on this for the last month so he knows how I want things done.  I discussed the finishing of the house with him and David and Pastor Lafleur.  The house WILL be done.  Of this I am confident.  But I was reminded about King David.  His job was not to build the temple; that was reserved for his son, Solomon.  So what did David do?  Drew up plans and got all the materials together.  Solomon just had to do the work.  God apparently had someone else in mind to finish what I started.  As disappointing is that is, the groundwork is laid, the plans are drawn up, the materials are ready.  It just has to be finished.  My God is a FINISHER.  That house will serve the church and community admirably.  I am blessed to have played a small part in it.

I found out yesterday from my parents my grandpa was down to “hours” and I needed to get home.  The unfortunate thing was I was already in Port Au Prince, picking up a team.  Which meant I couldn’t start making plans to get home until I got back to Jacmel and I could start in on calls to arrange things.  I arrived back at the hotel at 9:30, and immediately jumped on my computer.  Was definitely thankful the internet was working decently last night.  I called American Airlines to switch the flight.  I was hoping to get sent to Cedar Rapids, IA or to Moline, IL, as both of those were within two hours of my hometown of Burlington.  However, the cost of switching to one of those locations was $1100.  “But sir, I only have 1 seat available to either of those and if you take it, the plane will be full, so we have to charge a lot for that seat.”  Logic didn’t work, so I asked about Chicago or St Louis.  I could get into Chicago for $68.50.  Sold.  Gave them my debit card info and booked the flight.  The downside?  The plane left Port Au Prince at 9:15 AM.  Which meant I had to be at the airport at 7 AM.  Which meant leaving Jacmel at 4 AM.  Did I mention I didn’t start working on getting home until 9:30 last night?  Yeah, who needs sleep, right?  Anyway, I still had to figure out getting in to SE Iowa, which was a 4 hour drive from O’Hare.  Lenny wasn’t available until Monday.  So I originally thought about staying the night in Chicago.  I could fly a commuter plane into Burlington direct for $90.  Amtrak to Burlington was $66.  Amtrak to Galesburg, IL was $26, which looked like my best option, until God put to mind my friend Kevin.  Called him (at 11:30) and asked if he could pick me up at around 5 (was scheduled to land at 4:35), and I would pay gas and dinner.  He agreed.  Score!  Of course, things are never that simple and my flight out of Miami was delayed due to bad weather in Chicago, so now I won’t get in until around 6:15.  Sorry, Kev.  I owe you big time.

I want to take this opportunity to thank quite a few people who made the last 11+ weeks possible.  It’s like writing album liners!  I can include in-jokes that they’ll only get!  So here goes.  First of all, I would like to thank my Heavenly father for giving me the vision of the work (and for those of you who DO read album liners, isn’t that how it almost nearly starts?  Even if the subject matter of the record is about as far away from God as possible….).  I would like to thank my parents for their love and support, and especially my mom for her daily texts on how many days until I came home.  Made me smile.  I shared them with many-a team member.  I would like to offer a huge thanks to Darren Tyler as when I told him my heart to go, his answer was “let’s figure out how to get you there.”  And then Conduit covered my flights and lodging.  Your support to me, not only in this, but in nearly everything in the last 6 years that I have known you, has led me to having the most respect for anyone I know that I am not related to.  Proud to call you a friend, a brother, a mentor, a pastor.  God bless you, Shannon, and the kids.  Thanks to Conduit Church, New River Fellowship, Restore Haiti, Grace Bible Church, 90.9 WVYN, Dennis Ostrander and 89.9 in Burlington, Charley Hayes (and you internet radio show…sorry I can’t think of the name right now….), and everyone who prayed and supported me during this mission.  You made it possible.  So many of you donated and/or payed me way more than the jobs I did were worth (Lainie Stubblefield, I’m talking to you!).  You guys are way awesome!

To Pastor Lafleur who said yes when I suggested a “blanc” come and hang out in Haiti for 3 months.  Even when he wasn’t going to be there the entire time.  You trusted me to help further the ministry you started, and for that I am eternally grateful.  You helped challenge me in ways I never imagined, and probably didn’t even realize you did it.  Blessings to you, my brother, and I will be back to Haiti, for sure.  Next time, we’re gonna fix the sound system right, and allow the ministry to keep growing.  Thanks to Theresa Swain, for handling the logistics of getting me there.  You made my life so much easier.  You rock.  To Pastor Rodrigue, Fedony, Dave, Julie (and all the girls in the kitchen), you took me in and took care of me.  So thankful for all of you.  To Patricko, Leminson, McDonald, Gabby, et al, thanks for your help on the work.  Patricko, I stopped giving you my iPod because you sang loudly.  And worse than I do.  Even worse than my dad.  No bien.  Love you, though, brother.  Nick, you were so much help.  So thankful for your friendship.  Caleb and Caleb, thanks for showing me around Jacmel (especially for pointing out Lewis’s Chicken!).  Made being there easier. Blessings to you and your ministry.  To Rodrigue, Marie, and everyone at the Loving Light, you provided a place to stay, showers, laundry, breakfast (and sometimes more meals, and internet.  You were my home for 3 months.  Made things so much easier.  So blessed.  To all my friends on teams, both old and new, thanks for giving me the opportunity to serve along side each of you.  To Victoria, Gwen, Deborah, Juli, and Stephanie, you blessed me more than I ever thought a group there to do a women’s ministry ever could.  In 5 short days, you loved on me and challenged me in so many ways.  Couldn’t be prouder to know you and call you family.  Steph, you are hands-down the best clown ever.  Loved watching you work.  Lastly, and certainly not least, I want to thank all the kids in the community.  Jemica, Gaelle, Evanson, Clifford, Felix, and so many whose names I couldn’t keep straight (there are a LOT of you!), you made me smile every single day.  I loved nothing more than to walk onto church property and here a dozen little voices yell, “Ben!!”  You melted my heart.  What I did is because I, and God, KNOW you are the FUTURE of Haiti.  And it’s going to be a great future.  I am glad to be able to sow seeds so you can harvest them.

Ok, I want to close this out with a recap of what I did while I was down there.  I tore down a house that wasn’t salvageable (a Forward Edge team is rebuilding it this week!!), cleared rubble, built a temporary school so kids could continue to learn, helped out with health clinics (Julie Wendt, didn’t I just look hot in my blue poncho?), built bunk beds, (mostly) finished the house, tore down the church and helped build a bigger one (how awesome is it when the church grew so much it couldn’t house all the people anymore?!?), played escort for every team coming into Port Au Prince, went through the sound system to find what cables didn’t work, learned some Creole, played with a bunch of kids, and I KNOW I am leaving a bunch of stuff out.  Plus I got closer to God through the process.  When you don’t have a lot of people to talk to you hear from God.  Learning to live simply so others might simply live.  Thanks to all of you again for joining me on the journey, and thanks for reading.  God bless!

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