Monday, July 04, 2011

Off-roading in Haiti with The Bridge short-term team

One of our roles this summer in Haiti is to host short-term mission teams. Our first team arrived Saturday morning in Port Au Prince and we were excited to welcome them at the airport. This team included my parents, Doug and Maria, along with several other friends from The Bridge Church, Lisa, Dana, Forest, Clint, Stephanie and Jennifer, who have all been to Haiti before. They were joined by two new team members, Jenn’s husband, Ross and Preston.

Saturday morning we drove to the airport. Ericlee and our French intern Ben went to pick up our rental vehicle and I continued on to the arrivals with the girls and another Haitian friend. Giada and I hopped out of the truck and waited at the end of the arrival walkway. The way it works in Haiti they don’t allow you to go into the airport at all to meet friends and family. It’s usually a bit of an adventure getting through customs and retrieving your bags so there’s nothing more comforting than seeing a familiar face at the end of that covered corridor.

I was happy to be that familiar face when Jenn and Ross first appeared with the carts piled high with bags. We shared hugs all around with the whole team, but the highlight was Giada’s delighted squeal when she spotted her Nana and “Poppy.” She leaped into Nana’s arms!

Not long afterwards Ericlee and Ben showed up with our rental vehicle and we started the “tetris game” of fitting all 20 bags plus carry-ons into our pick-up truck and stuffing 14 people into the seats and two kiddos on top of laps. We made a stop for sandwiches and then we were on our way for our real adventure: the drive from Port Au Prince to Pignon.

Let me start by saying that the drive is actually quite beautiful if you are looking out at the landscape. It’s full of green rolling hills and mountain edges, sun meeting sky. There are streams of water. Cows and goats roam over grasses.

However, it’s the road that presents the problem for us. The road starts out paved but then begins to wind back and forth. For this carsick-prone/pregnant mama (and friends) a windy paved road is not fun. Then three hours into the trip the road is no longer paved.

Bumpy is an understatement.

When you are in two vehicles packed with people and piled high with bags bumpy = fun adventure. I was praying hard not to puke. Ericlee was a hero driving our truck. Clint, who has experience off-roading, manned the rental vehicle. The ladies in our car (led by Nana Maria) kept our minds busy by singing VBS songs at the top of our lungs with the kids.

The highlight of the ride was crossing a stretch of bumpy road that was actually 4-feet deep with muddy water. We all prayed as the water poured over the hood. Our vehicle got stuck the first time around. We were able to back up and power through with our 4-wheel drive. Then the rental followed. This truly was a miracle.

In the end we did make it safely to Pignon. No one was seriously sick. And we all were able to laugh about the experience over a fat Haitian meal when we arrived home.

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