Helping and Grieving for Haiti

by Tokyo Terrace on January 20, 2010

-Photo from Reuters-

It’s hard to know how to start this post. There are many things going through my mind that I cannot effectively put into words, even though I desperately want to. As you all know, the Haiti earthquake last week caused devastation greater than many of us can comprehend. The damage is so great that it is difficult to know how the areas impacted will even begin to rebuild and heal. This tragedy has pulled on the heart-strings of many, including many of my friends from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

How is Haiti at all connected to Decorah, Iowa? Ben Larson. Ben was a beautiful human being that managed to make a huge impact on literally thousands of individuals (including myself), and he was killed in the earthquake last week. Ben was studying at Wartburg Seminary to become a Pastor and was in Haiti helping to teach Lutheran theology.

My husband and I have been grieving the loss and trying to stomach all the information, along with countless others. Ben was trapped in a building along with his wife and cousin. Of the three, Ben was the only one who was not able to make it out. Recent news reports quoting his wife, Renee, have revealed that in his last moments, Ben was singing. Beneath the rubble that covered him, he was singing hymns. His wife, who came back for him but was unable to save Ben, was there listening until the songs ended, knowing there was nothing that could be done. And there are thousands of other individuals in Haiti who have endured similar heart-breaking scenarios. People who need help to get through this in more ways than we know. Ben’s love of God and music remained strong until the very end. Watch this video of Ben opening for Minnesota musician Peter Mayer to see the beauty of Ben as a person and musician.

Left to Right: Ben, wife Renee, cousin Jonathan

This photo was taken from an article released by the ELCA. Click here for the full article from the ELCA.

I have cried many times over the past few days, but each time I cry, I know that it is a mere fraction of the emotional destruction that has been done to Ben’s family and to families in Haiti.

Each time that I sit down to write a blog post about food, I can’t. I can think of nothing else but the beautiful life of Ben Larson, his beautiful family and wife, and the strength that I pray they have in the midst of such tragedy.

As I said, there is no way for me to accurately put into words the feelings that have been surging through me in recent days. But what I can tell you is that these people need all the help we can give. People are left without homes and families, which has left them with a deeper amount of nothingness than before the quake; a seemingly impossible position for anyone to endure. So, skip your Starbucks, or your dinner out and help. Please.

There are several ways you can help. Blog Away Hunger, lead by Marc from No Recipes, has posted a list of bloggers donating their ad revenue this month to relief funds in Haiti. Please visit this link to find out which bloggers are participating and just start clicking through their past posts. I don’t get any ad revenue at the moment, so please go to the participating sites and do what you can to help. You can also go to the sites listed below to donate money directly.

Red Cross

Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (Ben’s  family’s suggestion)

Novica: This site specializes in selling goods made by people in need throughout the world, including artists living in Haiti. 10 % of the proceeds from goods made in Mexico, the Andes, and Brazil are designated to help the relief efforts in Haiti.

Unicef: The Unicef homepage states that “The emergency aid is urgently needed, as basic services and infrastructure in the western hemisphere’s poorest nation were already close to collapse even before the 7.0-magnitude quake struck.” You can donate here to help the emergency aid efforts.

Whimsey & Spice is donating 10% of their sales to relief efforts in Haiti. If you are in New York, please check them out!

For more information about Ben, go to The Whites in Tokyo, A Dahl Blog and

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  • Divina

    This is a very touching post. Rachel. I did wonder if I should publish a new blog post while people are suffering from Haiti. Thanks for including the links. We can definitely help from where we are right now. Still teary eyed..

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  • Marc @ NoRecipes

    So sorry to hear about your loss. It sounds like the world has lost someone special. I don’t have any personal connection to Haiti other than through these stories and vignettes so it’s hard for me to comprehend the level of devastation there. Thanks for making it all a little more real. It makes me wish I could do more.

  • Rachael Smith

    praying for you guys, and for your friends. Thank you for the post, it kinda brings Haiti into a closer perspective to hear about those around us that were effected by what happened. I hope all is going well for you guys in Japan. It was really good to see your family at Becky’s wedding in December, its been such a long time! Hopefully we can find a time to catch up again when you guys are state side.

  • mylastbite

    So moving. I’m really sorry for your loss.

  • camille

    I’m so sorry.

  • Scott

    I am almost at a loss for words. The first image in your post gave me the chills, and then to learn the fate of your dear from Ben, I am so very sorry. I do think it is incredible that in what he must have known was the end, he was singing. That is courage.

    I have signed up to participate in Help Haiti – Blog Away Hunger and will be donating my ad revenue from January and February. It isn’t much, but I hope it will help.

  • wasabi prime

    The images and stories coming out of Haiti are difficult enough, but knowing the tragedy has affected you both personally is heartbreaking, and I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. I have to say, I’m touched by the story of your friend’s faith and spirit, to have the strength to be that ray of light and hope when things seem at their darkest, and that his memory will continue to be an inspiration for his friends, family, and strangers alike. I truly do have faith that this tragedy will only give our whole community of nations a chance to prove that this will be our finest hour, that when people are in need, when losses are unbearable, there will always be outstretched hands somewhere, to guide towards better and brighter days.

  • Erin

    This post truly touched me and brought the situation in Haiti to a personal level. Thank you for sharing Ben’s life and story.

  • tokyoterrace

    Thanks to everyone for your kind words, support, and most of all for your continuing help for the people of Haiti. I hope this post helped motivate many of you to donate what you are able to help people who have less than nothing.

  • ThatsSoYummy


    I know that I have told you already but need to say it again, I am so sorry for your loss and for his family as well. I must thank you for writing such a sincere post along with great links that are trying to help my beautiful Haiti. I will pray for you and his family and loved ones along with all the others that are still missing.

    It means the world to know that so many care.


  • zenchef

    This is so sad. I didn’t know you had a personal connection with this catastrophy and i’m so sorry. Thank you for sharing Ben’s story with us. Every little bit helps and i’m glad people have come together to help make a difference.

  • Kitchen M

    wow, I’m really sorry Rachel. I also dedeciated a post to Haiti because my food blogging is so trivial compared to this earthquake. Since I can’t physically be there to help, donating money and dedicating a post is the least I could do.

  • tokyoterrace

    Thanks, M. This whole situation has definitely helped to put everything in perspective. Glad you have posted about it as well- it helps more than we may think.

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