A group of twelve people from the Compass Church are preparing to serve in Haiti, in an area near Port-au-Prince that was devastated by the 7.0 earthquake just over a year ago. We will be traveling February 12-19, and will be working with Touch Global which is a part of the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) to help build shelters and share the love of Jesus with the people of Haiti.

Our team has already met a couple of times to prepare for the trip. We’re busy getting our passports, immunizations, and packing lists together. It’s been fun to get to know each other, and has also given us time to pray together as we prepare our hearts and minds to serve.

We’d like to thank the many people that are coming along side us in financial and prayer support. You are an important part of our team! Thank you!

Our Team: Harry Bontrager, Beth Beckman, Hayley Augustine, Russ Carlson, Carolyn DePina, Susan Jankovsky, Sarah McGraw, Vern Pechta, Frederick Schmitt, Rachel Smith, J.P. Specht and Dan Vander Wal.

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Arrived Fort Lauderdale

All twelve disciples landed safe and sound in Fort Lauderdale. We hope to post tonight when we arrive in Haiti if all technology cooperates.

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Good morning Chicago,

My first time blogging so here it goes. I was looking for scripture to start my message and this is what the Lord gave me. Eph. 4 vs. 1-6. What stuck out the most in these verses was vs. 2-5: the words humble, gentle, patient, keep unity, one body, and one Spirit. Just sitting in the airport waiting for the plane we ran into two other groups going down to Haiti. How awesome is that having three groups on one plane for one place to serve one God. Christ gives us so many opportunities to witness with every person we come in contact with. My prayer for this moment is not to miss any of those opportunities. So far in meeting the two other groups we have been able to strengthen each other in Christ’s name. I love meeting the people on my team. If there is one thing I starve for it is learning from everyone around me. Everyone has something to offer, and I want to know what that is from each person. Even more so when you disagree with a person. Thank you Lord Jesus for giving me this time not only to serve your people but to grow closer into what you want me to be.

Signing off Carolyn DePina

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Safe Arrival

We safely arrived at the Touch Global compound around 6:00pm. Got settled into our rooms, ate a delicious dinner of chicken, rice and some kind of yummy sauce, enjoyed good conversation and fellowship and now everyone is trickling off to bed. Looking forward to worshipping with the Haitians tomorrow!

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Our Team

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Road Trip

We were welcomed to Haiti by being corralled through what felt like a third-world prison. We exited customs into a very long, fenced in cement area. Haitian men were hovering everywhere shouting and shoving and begging to help us with our bags in exchange for dollars. The men on our team met some aggression, but did a great job of keeping us safe.

The chaotic drive to Gressier through Carrfour brought the devastation up close. Thousands of Haitians littered the streets. The only thing more rampant than people was garbage and rubble. There is no garbage pick-up in Haiti, not even before the earthquake. Chaotic, lawless driving was complicated by earthquake torn roads and people lingering in the streets in between cars hustling to sell products or services. Children walked cows and goats on ropes. Women balanced huge baskets on their heads. People sold their product right on the sidewalk among the garbage and chickens. There were even a few large pigs digging through the trash.

Hundreds of people crammed together in tent cities broke our hearts. Our guide explained that they are actually very thankful. Before the earthquake, many had just lived on the earth. The earthquake brought in relief programs with aid and shelter.

The ocean was to our right as we drove along the coast, but completely undeveloped. Haitians built their lives across the street. Any other culture would have capitalized on the great Caribbean location, but Haitians won’t go near it. They are haunted by the voodoo of the spirits that live in the water.

The Haitian culture is very chaotic. People will not save or plan for the future and have a hard time structuring themselves. They are, however, survivors. They always find a way to make it from one day to the next.

We’ve arrived at our compound, ‘The Haitian Queen’ and are excited for a very powerful week of serving God’s people and humbling our hearts. Please pray for our health and safety and a very successful mission.


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Our First Work Day

This picture was taken yesterday with one of the many cows in Haiti. We took a nice long walk up a hill and around a river and got to interact a bit with some of the Haitian people. Walking by we heard a lot of “Blah! Blah!” because that is their word for white people. Funny part is we take pictures of them, but they were taking pictures of us too.

Today 7 of us got to experience Jasmine’s orphanage, a place filled with beautiful Haitian children that were so happy to see us. They had so much joy despite their circumstances and seemed to be loving life. The kids were very receptive to us, and we found lots of new friends. After lots of playing with the kids, we swapped jobs with the other 7 in our group who were working on the roofs of the Samaritan’s Purse shelters (they finished 3 in total!). When we got to the worksite, we as girls didn’t get to do much; the Haitian men would take hammers out of our hand mid swing. However, our group did get a tarp put on a shelter and the frame for another shelter up. We are waiting to see what God has planned for us to do the rest of the week, and we’re excited!    

Sarah & Haley

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Krabanbara (Tarantula in Creole)

The most amazing thing happened to me last night while Haley, Sarah, Rachel and I were all playing a very hyper game of cards. Vern came in to come get the whole group asking if we wanted to see a tarantula. Everyone’s natural response was “yes!” As we all walked down the path, I came to where everyone was standing and saw this huge spider, and I hate spiders. I was really happy to see that both the spider and I will be even happier if it stays away from me. When we returned to our card game we all found out that Hailey cheated in our game. We all had a good laugh about that because we didn’t know Haley was capable of such things.

The next day was a very successful day because everyone learned that teamwork and leadership play a very important part in putting on the tarp for the shelters we were helping to build. Everyone had different ways and ideas of putting on this tarp, so naturally we all argued on how to put on this complicated tarp. Rachel and I argued the most because we had two very different opinions on how to put up the tarp. But I learned that sometimes you have to let your ego go and open up to different ideas, so I’m going to try Rachel’s idea the next time. By the time we finished the fourth side of the house the Haitians tore all our work down because it wasn’t up to their “supreme standards.” It only took us 3 and a half hours to put up. Overall I’m having a great time in Haiti and this experience has opened my eyes up to many other countries that I would like to do missionary work in.


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Ten New Sounds from Haiti

Pastor Steve asked that we consider giving up all electronic devices and communication during our mission trip. Things such as Facebook, email, text messages, Twitter, smartphones, computers, etc. He asked that we “de-clutter” our lives while in Haiti; the only exception was this blog. Honestly, it’s been an excellent exercise. There have been few distractions allowing an opportunity to grow our relationship with others on this trip. And it has helped us meld together as a group. It has been a wonderful opportunity to listen…not only to God’s words and direction, but to everything else we encounter. My sense of hearing has increased on this trip along with all my other senses. Below is a list of things that I have HEARD while in Haiti:

1)  The sound of 125 cc motor scooters whining thru the streets and on the back roads. Many of these scooters sound like they need a quart of oil.

2)  Horns beeping….all the time for any apparent reason. We are all from Chicago, so the horns are not uncommon. But the Haitians use their horns many times each minute behind the wheel.

3) Animals are everywhere. Cows, goats, and roosters all get up very early in the morning and make a lot of noise.

4)  Every evening and every morning, you can hear taps and reveille played. The sounds come from the Korean U.N. facility.

5)  Haitians singing. Not only at church, but during the day as well.  They know many English Christian songs. While working on a church reconstruction project the Haitians sang in English to us.  But we were unprepared to sing the words to every verse of the songs we joined them in singing.

6)  Clans chanting in the morning in beautiful unison at 5:30 a.m.

7)  Rain on the tin roof. The guys all sleep in an open aired bunk house with a tin roof. We have had plenty of rain and the sound on the tin roof starts out loud and then becomes a sleep aid. That is until a mango falls from the  tree above the tin roof. Can anyone say “bombs away”?!!

8)  Speaking of the bunk house, an open air bunk house is no place to store seeds. Late at night, little grey animals get hungry…they even fight viciously and loudly for food. No…..these grey animals were not squirrels!

9)  Hey You. Bon soir. This mean hi and “what’s up”. Creole is a difficult language, but fun to listen to and learn.

10)  Ten 8-10 year old boys in the orphanage yelling “I want to be next” as they were begging me to dump water from my water bottle into their mouths.

So there you have it…ten new sounds from Haiti! I’m listening better without the electronic clutter in my life. Now if I could just learn how to hear God better and follow His direction in my life in total obedience. This was great exercise in eliminating clutter in my life.


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Concrete Blocks and Beautiful Orphans

Looks like it is my turn at the blog.  I’ll try to keep it interesting.  We are continuing to understand the culture a little bit better and don’t feel like we stick out as much.  It has been awesome to see the group continue to bond together and hearing conversations like ‘why did you come to Haiti?’, ‘what is God teaching you while you are here‘, ‘how will your life be different when you return‘.  Please continue to pray for the team that we can process the experience and be prepared to share our experience with others when we return.

Today the team split into two groups with one going back to Jasmine’s orphanage and the other going back to the church in Laogone.

The church team has been at the church since Tuesday and have been building walls out of concrete blocks and building joists for the roof.  The entire team has learned a lot about masonry including how to mix cement and mortar and how to lay bricks.  Today we started building a baptismal.  Some highlights from the team building at the church have been:
* Finding two baby goats hiding in the bricks.
* J.P. leading the Haitians in song and the Haitians knowing them in English.
* Losing the one screwdriver bit for the drill for about 45 minutes and then finding it on the water cooler.
* Only having a 220 volt circular saw when the generator is 110 volt.
* Singing Christian songs with the Haitian children when they come visit us after school.

The team at Jasmine’s orphanage has been busy loving on the kids that are there.  On Wednesday, three new children came to the orphanage including a 2 week old, a 2 year old, and a 6 year old.  This was an emotional experience as the team observed mothers leaving their children because they weren’t able to adequately care for them.  The team has been able to connect with many of the children and they love to be held, play games, and just hangout with the team.  We have also been able to give some of the Haitian orphanage workers some assistance/a little break.  The children all go to school at the orphanage.  Currently, they are separated by gender and grades and each group attends school for 1.5 hours per day.

We continue to thank God for the privilege and opportunity to serve.  We pray that God will work through us as we serve the “least of these” as Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:40 “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”


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