Haiti Mission Trip: Day 1
This was the big day! We had planned to meet up at the church at 1:00 in the afternoon. About 10 minutes from leaving the house for the Nashville airport, my mom and I get a call. Our flight from Miami to Haiti has been cancelled. Instantly, stress began to flow! Was our trip doomed from the start?
Luckily, we were able to find a flight about 6 hours later than the one originally scheduled. Although it was stressful at first, the cancellation was actually a blessing in disguise. Even though we would lose about 6 hours of work time, we would be able to get a hotel room for Sunday night. This would be a much better upgrade than the floor or chairs of the Miami International Airport.
When the rooster crowed at 3am, we were up and ready to board the plane. Luckily, our trip from Nashville to Miami, and from Miami to Haiti was uneventful.
When we got to Haiti, we were greeted in the airport by a few Haitians who had guitars, drums, flutes, and other instruments. They were playing us a song. I knew this was gonna be… different.
We got to baggage claim, (after having to pay a $10 tourist fee that was new) and it was chaos. It was difficult trying to gather our 16 bags full of supplies, and thats not even counting our personal bags!
One last stop… through customs. As we strolled out with our 4 carts full of bags, they search us. They found our medicine. They were talking to us, and we couldnt figure out what they were saying. Luckily, Luther came to our aid. Luther, (as I will refer to often) is the head of missions at his church in Carrefour, Haiti. He was the one that organized the whole trip for us. Despite putting up a good fight, Haitian customs decided to take all they found (which luckily was only about a third).
Once we got out of the airport, we were greeted by the first sights of the country. This is where it started to get sketchy.
There were mobs of people everywhere. They weren’t there to stir trouble, they just sat and stared at us. We moved out of the exit and into another big fenced in area with people surrounding us. I could feel their stares. I felt like Daniel in the lion’s den. They were speaking Creole, so they could be cursing at us, planning an attack, or talking about how much they appreciated us coming, and we wouldn’t have known the difference. This was nerve-racking for 11 out of the 15 who had never been to Haiti before.
After loading all of the stuff in the van and two trucks that we had rented, we began on the road. After riding on those roads in Haiti, it will be hard for me to hate on any transportation department in America. I hadn’t ever seen anything like it! They have lines painted on the roads, but I don’t know why. Nobody followed the rules anyway! Double yellow line around a curve? Its no problem. Lets take a car going about 60. I was terrified.
Once we got to the inner city, we hit traffic. At the time, the traffic seemed like a horrible thing. I was tired, hungry, and legit scared for my life. But after the fact, this slow drive down somewhat “main street” allowed me to take a closer look at everything.
I noticed people, pigs, and whatever else rummaging through piles of trash! They had huge troughs filled with trash and some were burning it. People had tattered clothes. If their shirts had any writing on it, it was most always in English. Probably because the United States helped a lot after the earthquake.
I noticed many people carrying baskets on their heads filled with everything you can think of: drinks, bread, clothes, and even live turkeys and chickens!
It was getting darker, and the traffic began to get worse. The streets seemed to be more and more crowded with people, and it felt like every one of them was looking at us. I asked Reginald, the pastor of the church that we were working through, how Haitians viewed Americans. He said that they love Americans, not only for their money, but the aid that was given after the earthquake.
After about a 2 hour drive, in the middle of what seemed like a crowded street, we stopped. Reginald put the car in park, and we were where we would call home.
When we walked inside, we were greeted by over a hundred people… who were there to receive the medical attention that was offered to them. Because the plane schedules changed, these people were told to be at the church at noon. It was about 6 ‘o’clock when we arrived. We had two options. One, send those people back to their homes without the medical care we had promised them. Or two, get right to work. We decided to go with option number two.
Immediately, a few people (including myself) started bagging rice and beans, while others set up the medical clinic upstairs. When we got done bagging the food, I went upstairs, and it was already working like a well-oiled machine. Patients were called from the “waiting room” to a table where they filled out a complaint card. After the card was completed, they went on to be weighed. When one of the doctors had room, they saw the patients in. On their way to be seen, they were given a variety of things from clothes, to toothbrushes, to care packages. Once they received a medical examination, they went to the pharmacy table where they received the medications they needed. Then, they went downstairs where people prayed with them and gave them rice and beans. At about 11 o’clock, we sat down to eat. After counting the cards, we had seen 116 people.
And finally, the day was over. It had been a long one. A tall, ice cold 7-up in a glass bottle never tasted so good!
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