Day #1 February 5, 2018 - Monday
It was a night short on sleep, but the water was hot at the hotel and the pillows were comfy! Hannah, Josh, and I arrived at the hotel around 10 pm. The other gal that came from Maine, Faith, had been on a different flight out of Maine and unfortunately, she was delayed. Faith and I were sharing a hotel room, but due to her flight delays, she didn’t get to the hotel until about 3:30 am., and we had to be up at 4:30 am.! So even though I didn’t sleep that great at least I got a few hours of sleep!
When we had arrived in Miami, we weren’t sure if we had to collect our checked baggage or if the bags would stay at the airport. I asked to different airline employees about our checked bags and they both gave the same answer. The bags stayed at the airport, and the bags would be put on the flight to Port-au-Prince in the morning. Okay! While that makes our check-in quicker in the morning, there is something a little unnerving about those bags being out of our care for so long! Our most important items are in those bags for clinics in the mountains.
4:30 am. Came early for all of us, but especially for Faith! It was nice to take hot showers before heading to the airport for our last leg of the journey to Haiti. Coming back into the airport, we had to go through security again. Most of us made it through without a hitch, except Josh. His carry on was taken apart and then nothing would go back in it the same way! Our carry ons are packed very full, and my back pack weighs about 34lbs. Hannah managed to help Josh get his stuff back in his suitcase, which took a bit of mad packing skills! Oh, I forgot to mention that the TSA agent was the first one to wish Hannah a “happy birthday”! Yeah, my brain is a bit foggy this early in the morning and without coffee!
Faith and I found a spot to get coffee and Hannah and Josh tried to find a place to pick up some lunch for later-no success! We were kinda hoping to find a place that would pack us a lunch because we will be waiting in Port-au-Prince for about four hours before the rest of the team arrives from the States.
Our flight was scheduled to leave from Miami at 7:10 am. After realizing that the Subway place was on the other side of security, Hannah and Josh needed something to eat before boarding. There was a bagel place right near our gate so Hannah decided to grab a bite to eat. The flight crew must have been anxious to get the flight underway as they started boarding at 6:20 am. Hannah was in line for food, and Josh was waiting for her. So Faith and I went ahead and boarded. The flight was not full, but everyone was seated. Hannah and Josh got on at 6:45, and Hannah said that they had actually been paged! Like I said, apparently someone was in a hurry! And of course, it was “hurry up and wait” as we sat in the plane and then took off at 7:14am. But Praise the Lord, all the people from Maine are on board and heading to Haiti!
We arrived in Port-au-Prince at 8:50am. We had several hours to wait before the rest of the team arrived, but the time passed fairly quickly. I discovered that my bag was wet, and we had to wipe down and repack several of the Childrens cough medicines. I am so thankful that all my clothes were packed in baggies, and that nothing was ruined. All of our bags arrived-praise Jesus! We passed the time eating snacks, playing games, and visting together. We needed to go through customs together as a team, and the Port-au-Prince airport on the baggage side is a little plain and boring, but we were able to get comfortable on camp chairs and suitcases.
The rest of the team arrived about 1:45 pm, and it was a flurry of happy hugs and happy reunions. Last year I was the new member on the team, but this year I knew just about everyone as we only had two people that were new to the team. It was fun to see everyone from last year, and see so many friends. Everyone managed to find the bags that they came with and there were certainly a bunch of them! My dad came from Wisconsin so it was good to see him again too! Next up-customs!
Last year I pushed a luggage cart, but I was smarter this year! I carrried my backpack, another backpack, and pulled a suitcase. With a cart a Haitian always wants to help you, which is fine, except then they’d like a tip! I managed to hang on to everything, and I got in line with the rest of the team. One of the custom guards started jabbering away to me, and I had no idea what he wanted! I asked Grandpa (Pastor Kevin’s dad) what the guard wanted and Grandpa told me he was telling me that I didn’t have to go though the line. Okay! Fine by me, I just walked out of the line as did several others on the team, and we waited for everyone else to finish up. Customs seemed to progress fairly quickly and we didn’t have any snags...many thanks to all those who prayed!
Four of us from the team rode on the back of the dump truck with the bags. The rest of the team members piled into a van. I don’t mind riding in the van, but mountain roads, an empty stomach, and lots of new smells pointed me to ride on the dump truck! A tarp was put over the top if the truck to protect from the sun and dust, however, that tarp was so loud that I thought my ears would bleed! Finally, I got smart and pulled out my headphones. I gave my extra pair to my dad and that greatly helped!
I was wondering how I would respond to Port-au-Prince after seeing if for the first time last year. Honestly, it’s still hard! I would want better than to be selling chicken beside a burning pile of trash, I would want more than a shack to live in, and I would desire a better future for my children. Yet it’s what they have. Just as I didn’t choose to be born an a American, in a Godly home, and the conveniences that I live with, they didn’t choose this. However, God, in His sovereignty, is still in control. It’s very overwhelming -the trash, the filthy conditions, the skinny dogs, the dirty children, the droop of the shoulders of tired mamas, the constant traffic and fumes. Yet the real need is not to fix a temporary need, it’s a relationship with Jesus Christ. I pray that this week we will be able to help with some of those temporary medical needs, but more importantly, I hope we can point them to Jesus. And I will say that these Haitian Christians are some of the most joyful people I know, and I can certainly learn a lot from them!
We arrived at our destination for tonight after about a 3 1/2 hour drive. I thought I was going to be sick as we climbed the steep mountain roads, but God gave grace. While my headache was intense, we made it! Praise God! We did have a very close call with a semi trailer flatbed, but God is so merciful.
We are staying in a little hotel tonight before heading up the mountain tomorrow. Hannah and a few others from the team went to the pharmacy to get more medical supplies. The rest of us unloaded the dump truck as nothing can be left unattended overnight.
The hotel is right in the water and quite lovely. The showers are still cold, but not freezing! The hotel also provided a lovely meal for all fourteen team members. The meal included chicken, goat, fish (the whole thing!) lobster (it did NOT taste like Maine lobster) and of course rice and beans. Since it was Hannah’s birthday we had ice cream for dessert. Let’s just say it wasn’t my favorite! The first ingredient is sugar, and the cookies and cream kind tasted like rum-yuck! But now I can say.. I tried it!
We are going to bed so that we can get up early tomorrow to ride motorcycles up the mountain. The dump truck isn’t working right so Pastor Kevin is looking for a different one for tomorrow. He would like to take a load of sand up to the mission house, and the luggage will go in top of the sand. And on top of the luggage will sit some people...why that sounds safe, right?! Most of us will be going up to the missions house via motorcycles. The good news is that the ride will be much shorter than on the dump truck as in probably about 1 1/2 hours. I will be praying for safety on this adventure as those roads are steep, gravely, and sometimes treacherous. God is good!
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