10 Jul Haiti – July 9, 2014 : Day 1
Arriving at JFK Airport at 5:30am was an early start for a busy first day on the AIM Trip to Haiti. Some of us began the trip to the New York as early as 2:00am from various locations in the Penndel District. Arriving 3 hours before departure provided plenty of time for us to get through security, grab some breakfast and find our gate.
We lifted off at 8:30am.
Our scheduled arrival in Port au Prince was around 12 noon. However, many of us were surprised to hear a message from the Captain when we were just less than an hour from landing. His communication to the Crew and Passengers was to inform us that the plane had a mechanical issue that could not be repaired in Haiti and he had been instructed by the airline to turn around and go to the Orlando airport so the plane could be repaired. We were told by airline employees that Delta does not employ airplane mechanics in Haiti so the plane had to be repaired in the States before going to Haiti. Otherwise, due to the mechanical issue, the plane would be unable to lift off once in Haiti – causing it to be stuck there.
Back to The States.
Having just come out of a bad storm and subsequent turbulence, the Captain stated we would be returning back through the same storm on our way to Orlando. We landed safely in Orlando, and after waiting for instructions for a few minutes, we were given the opportunity to leave the plane during the repair and refueling. Many of us were able to grab some coffee or lunch during the quick stop in Orlando, but before we knew it we were heading back to the plane for our second attempt at getting to Haiti.
Finally arrive in Haiti.
Before getting off the plane in Haiti we all had to fill out Haiti Immigration paperwork and have it ready to go through Customs / Security. The Immigration”” processing line was long but moved at a good pace considering many of the students and leaders were eager with anticipation to “see” Haiti for the first time. After a quick meeting with Pastor Lee at the exit of the airport, we ventured out into the crowds of taxis, luggage handlers and many more. We were warmly greeted by the Convoy of Hope team upon exiting the airport.
Did you see that?
Most of the team (myself included) had the opportunity to ride to the Missionary Guest House in the back of a box truck style vehicle. We were able to see out of the sides and the back of the truck as we rode through town. Many of the students were taken aback by the traffic and driving we saw. Some motorists simply blew their horns as they drove through intersections. In another instance, we observed a motorist repairing a broken down truck in the middle of an intersection, with one of the Convoy volunteers telling us “where it breaks down it stays, until it gets fixed.” We also noticed motorcyclists driving between two lane, opposite moving traffic. Not all of what we saw, however, had a “cool” connotation. We passed many street merchants on the sides of the roads camped out selling merchandise to anyone who would stop by – perhaps their only source of income. We noticed mounds of waste and trash piled high due to a nonexistent trash removal program. It was sobering to drive through the streets of downtown Port au Prince and see the devastation caused by the recent earthquake, and the poverty in every direction.
The Guest House.
We arrived shortly at the Missionary Guest House and met our wonderful team of Missionaries and Convoy of Hope workers. We were treated to a wonderful, authentic Haitian meal by a lady that has been helping the missionaries for over 20 years. The food was absolutely astounding. After dinner we had a short Orientation Meeting with the Ministry Team and began to discuss the weekly schedule. The team met around 8:15pm to setup our program for Thursday morning and practice our skits, puppets and music. The students had a great time practicing their parts with a translator to help them prepare for the VBS style ministry that begins Thursday morning.
The week ahead.
Based on our preliminary schedule, we will be doing Children’s Ministry on the mornings of Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday. Following lunch each day will be time spent painting a local school in a nearby village. We will have more details on these activities as we move forward. And of course we can’t forget the one thing we will be doing every chance we get…applying and reapplying bug spray! The Leaders and Students have all done a fantastic job of being flexible on this first day of the trip. We are excited to minister in the coming day, and to get some good hard work in as well. Please continue to pray for us as we serve here in Haiti these next 7 days.