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Ben and Heather Crane's mission trip to New Orleans

Heather Crane, wife of Ben Crane, shares the story of their mission trip to New Orleans last year to help victims of Hurricane Katrina. Ben and Heather are back in New Orleans this week for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Ben Crane
Ben helps in the demolition of a home.

Hey everyone. Just wanted to share a little bit about our mission trip to help out in New Orleans. We went with Ben's family for a week and just returned on Thursday and it was awesome! We went with an organization out of Vancouver, WA, called Forward Edge, and we were joined by a group out of a Vancouver church of about 25 people. Forward Edge has been there for almost 2 months and has been based out of a local church, where we stayed. There is a lead couple that has been living there and they arrange and organize the projects for the different groups to work on. They are trying to target those who are truly desperate, those without insurance, widows, etc.

Many, many homes there are so destroyed that they need to be completely gutted. Because of the mold, everything needs to go. We would show up to a house and move all of the contents to the curb and then begin to demo the house until it was down to the studs. Many of the people there are so upset that they are paralyzed. For most of them, this is all of their earthly possessions and it is very difficult to throw it all out. For those who had insurance, many of the companies are denying the claims, offering so little, or pulling out of the area altogether. It was a blessing to help these people when they are hurting so badly and to be there to not only encourage, but physically help them in this time.

The volume of debris is overwhelming.
The highlight of the trip came when we were touring Chalmette, Louisiana, an area that was badly hit by Katrina. The area looked like a war-zone and it is really hard to put into words how bad it is. The water came up to the second floor and so they are still determining if the homes need to be bull-dozed or if they can be salvaged at all. There is no electricity yet and all I can say is that it is so overwhelming that you just wonder where do you even begin?? We were driving around and saw a woman by herself placing her clothes out on the curb. We pulled up and just decided to bless her, so everyone got out and we gutted her house in a matter of 2 hours. She was so touched, she was in tears. She explained that her husband was in Houston working and she told him how hard it is to go to the house, so he told her to just go over for one hour. Her daughter showed up to check on her and was shocked at what she saw. Ben found a box in the attic with all their photo albums and gave them to her, but they were all ruined. We prayed for her when we finished and we left knowing that we made her burden just a little bit lighter.

Being down there reminded us of the story of the man throwing the starfish back into the ocean. A man walked up and asked him why he was bothering because there were millions of starfish on the shore and he could never make a difference. The man continued to throw them back into the ocean, saying that it mattered to that one, and to that one, and to that one...It gave us a lot of joy to help people one at a time, knowing that the situation is completely overwhelming and will take a lot of time. God is working in this area and we saw many miracles amongst our work. The trip gave us a great sense of perspective and it gave us a lot of joy to be able to serve these people.

Ben Crane
Heather describes some of the conditions as a "war-zone".

One man we met who lost everything told us he knows that a lot of people have given money to various groups, but that they haven't seen any of that. So, if you are wanting to give some money to this cause, I strongly recommend the group we went with - They have groups planned out through March and they are really making an impact. They are spending about $7,500 on each house tearing it out, replacing the insulation, sheet rocking, flooring and whatever else they can do to help these people start rebuilding their lives. It is really powerful. So far, they have worked on 60 houses and churches. They have a donor who is matching everything up to $1 million, so all donations will be doubled!

The PGA Tour came for a day to film Ben and capture the story. They are going to include it on a season in review show to air around Dec. 10 on all the major networks, so be looking for that. We are hoping that the exposure will be good for New Orleans and for Forward Edge. Here are some photos to give you a glimpse of what the work is like.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

God bless,

Heather & Ben


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