A Day to Remember

Good Morning Friends!

Today is January 12, 2016; six years ago today, the Haiti earthquake struck. Several seminary classmates/friends were in Haiti. My friend Ben lost his life along with many others that day. A year ago, I wrote a blog post about remembering and even still today, these words are the words that are ringing true for me. Today is a day filled with all sorts of emotions; melancholy, joy in seeing new life born out of the ashes, and so many other emotions.

I started my morning as I do every January 12th, listening to Ben’s version of Psalm 30; his song titled “Mourning into Dancing.” And as I listen to Ben’s music, I am reminded of the chorus to the hymn”My Life Flows On In Endless Song” in our hymnals that says, “How can I keep from singing?” Those words embody who Ben was as a beloved child of God; Ben loved music. In fact, Ben’s last words were sung as he sang the words “God’s peace to us we pray.”

The post from a year ago is one that I needed to read again today. I hope it blesses you as well!


(Originally posted at Praying on the Prairie; January 12, 2015)

Remember=”to have or keep an image or idea in your mind of (something or someone from the past)”; “to cause (something) to come back into your mind;” “to keep (information) in your mind;” or “to not forget something.”

This morning I woke up and immediately began to “remember.” Five Six years ago today, the earthquake struck in Haiti. My friend Renee (we worked at Bible camp together), her husband Ben and Ben’s cousin Jon were in Haiti when the earthquake hit. Ben lost his life that day. It is believed that his last words were breathed as he sang the words “God’s peace to us we pray” and then it was silent.

I was in Gettysburg Pennsylvania that January day. I was a small group leader for the Diaconal Ministry Formation Event (all diaconal minister candidates are required to do the formation event.) My small group and I were talking about prayer that Tuesday morning when one of my students said she wanted to share a song with us. She pulled it up on her laptop and we strained to listen to this beautiful song. The song was song by Jon and Ben and talked about “hands parted after prayer like cups raised to receive.” (The words were  words of a poem that a seminary classmate of theirs had wrote). So that morning we listened to the song and than later that afternoon we found out that the earthquake had taken place. Immediately my IM  instant message box was popping up with messages from friends letting me know that Ben, Jon, and Renee were in Haiti for a J-term class and that they had not been heard from yet.

For several days after, as you can imagine, there was much confusion. On Thursday morning, one of my students and a dear friend called and asked me where I was. I told her my hotel room and she asked if she could come to me. The minute I hung up the phone that morning I knew that something was wrong. Shera came to my door and informed me that it was confirmed that Ben was gone. We cried and held each other. We proceeded to breakfast where we were asked by the rest of our group if we had heard anything. Shera couldn’t get the words out. I was on auto-pilot and all I could keep repeating was “Ben’s gone.” From breakfast, we gathered in the chapel and worshiped together. When it came time for communion, tears welled up in our eyes as we recalled the words from the song we had heard just a few mornings before “hands parted after prayer like cups raised to receive.”

After worship, we all went to our small groups. My small group was in charge of leading worship that night. The girls decided that they still wanted to continue with our original plan; to sing the song “Freedom is Coming” etc. We made one small change; to play Ben’s version of Psalm 30 as individuals entered into worship that night. “Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” (Now you understand why this verse has become one of my faves). The next day, at the airport, we found a blog post where someone posted Ben’s sermon from his senior year at Luther College. It talked about how the song “Freedom is Coming” was one of the most influential songs in his life. (Anyone else get goosebumps. I know I did that day…and still do!)

It is hard to believe that it has been five six years today since the earthquake hit. I found myself waking up this morning. My cell phone clock confirmed today as January 12th. Grief has a way of swooping in and declaring to us the date even before we realize what day it is. Today I was reminded of that again. Immediately I took a breathe and began remembering.

And throughout the day I will continually be reminded of the promise of hope and Resurrection. A couple of friends texted to say they were thinking of me today. I went to start my car this morning and an envelope was taped to my driver’s side window. I opened the envelope. Inside was a note talking about how it wasn’t it much but hopefully it would brighten my day. With the note was a McDonalds gift card. Then from there, I got to spend the day with one of my dearest friends and dear colleagues as I headed to our YouthWorkers meeting. We spent the day talking about the ELCA Youth Gathering this next summer and tips we wished we knew when we went for the first time. Tonight at Curves, I shared the story of Ben, Renee, and Jon and the promise of hope and Resurrection.

And today Renee and Jon are married and expecting a baby have a son together.. What a beautiful promise of hope and Resurrection! Ben’s music still lives on. (Check out the website Ben Still Sings) Another reminder of hope and Resurrection! And for me Psalm 30 especially Ben’s version will always hold a special place in my heart. It is currently playing as I type this post and it is such a breath of fresh air for my soul. It is a song that continually reminds me of the power of hope and the power of Resurrection. (However sometimes grief does sneak in and cause the tears to flow…today is one of those days)

Mourning into Dancing (Click here to listen to Ben’s version of Psalm 30)

Linking up with these lovely ladies today: Holly and Testimony Tuesday, Kelly and the RaRa Linkup, Jennifer and Tell His Story, and Holley and Coffee for your Heart:


19 thoughts on “A Day to Remember

  1. Tara, so lovely to "meet you" today through Holly's linkup. My husband and I traveled to Haiti on missions trips before and after this earthquake, and I was actually pregnant during that January (and later miscarried). That season carries all sorts of emotion for us on so many levels.

    I am so sorry to read about your friend's passing — even if it was a few years back now, I am sure that the pain of losing him is still fresh on days like this. I am thankful that one glorious day our Abba will wipe all tears from our eyes.


  2. Thank you for sharing this touching part of your story, Tara. Words can't describe grief like this, but you've done it well. I'm praying for you today, my friend, and for all you knew Ben and loved him. His singing resonates with me. Beautiful song. Hugs coming your way…

  3. I love that I remember this post from last year – that's such a sweet legacy of friendship, right?! Ben still holds that special place in your heart, you're still telling his story, and we're still hear to read it. Hugs to you today as you remember.

  4. hi tara:) sad to hear about the loss of your friend ben in that earthquake. we had friends who lost some loved ones there too. very sad. thanks for telling his story.

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