Well we are already off to a better start than the last construction crew our church sent down here. We have made it safe and sound the very same day we departed Little Rock National. The only slight delay we experienced was after we re-boarded the plane in Fort Lauderdale. Somewhere between the time we got off the plane and the 45 minutes we spent in the terminal, a computer went haywire. So we got to spend an extra 30 minutes or so sitting on the tarmac in Florida. Everyone and everything made it safely to Port Au Prince and we even made pretty decent time getting from the airport to the compound where we currently are.
The reality of the situation set in as soon as the wheels touched the ground in Port Au Prince and the pilot immediately slammed on the brakes (or however you stop a plane) to keep us from on the extra short runway. After we all pulled our teeth out of the seat back in front of us, the damage could be spotted from every window on the plane. Even the view from a couple hundred feet above didn’t do this place justice. After stepping off the bus that shuttled us to customs, we were slapped in the face by an all too familiar feeling of Arkansas-like humidity (only we aren’t used to it being here this early in May) and an indescribable odor. We waded our way through customs and all managed to grab our bags. Then it was time to step out of the airport and into the real Haitian atmosphere.
Not two steps outside the door we got the pleasure of watching a cop and a “bag boy” get into a shouting match that we could only assume was not a light-hearted game between two friends. Then the rest of the aspiring bag boys began reaching their hands out to grab our bags with the hope that we Americans would be naïve enough to allow them the pleasure and reward them with a tip. Luckily, some of our group was here not too long ago and obviously left an impression. One of the men recognized AND called dad by his name and then proceeded to assist us all the way to the trucks.
Whatever you have heard about the roads here: it was an understatement. The main highway in Port Au Prince would be an embarrassment in the back woods of Mountain View, AR. And I’m just glad I wasn’t responsible for navigating us to the compound safely. I you hesitate, you lose. And if we had lost the white Mitsubishi, we would have been out of luck completely (I don’t care how confident dad was). The activity on the sides of the roads was the most heartbreaking though. The images that have been shown a million times on every news channel do not do this place justice. There is no hyperbole big enough to outstate the devastation, poverty, and need in this country. We drove for nearly 2 hours and each minute that passed was more shocking the one previous. My view was limited to what went by the left side of our truck, partially because I got conned out of my prime real estate in the front seat by a sneaky, short man named Robert Austin, but we don’t need to get into that. Being surrounded by tent cities and broken marketplaces that once were the main draw of the country is not something that you can be prepared for. Much like the first time you see the Grand Canyon, it is going to take your breath away no matter what else you may have seen in your lifetime.
More details about the compound and daily activities will come later. No need to bog everything down on the first night.
We just finished our team meeting for the night. We split into the two groups that we will have for the week (or that’s the plan so far at least) and had an incredible few minutes of prayer time in our groups. The song that continues to pop into my head is an unexpected one to say the least. For some reason, George Straitt’s Best Day of My Life continues to resonate in my mind. This truly is something that I have always dreamed about. I am on a mission trip in a foreign country with my dad and my brother. The two biggest influences in my life. And now we have a chance to do something absolutely amazing as a team (I do not quite consider winning the Jacksonville church softball league “amazing” in this sense) and make a direct impact on 24 families’ lives. This is the beginning of the best week of my life.
To conclude today’s update, we need to throw some more specific prayer concerns out. First off: the two teams need specific prayer. The first team is led by Terry and also has Gary, Jerry, Mac, and Robert (you can call them “Mac-y” and “Robbie” if you just have to have them all rhyme). The other team is led by dad and has me, Ted, Phil, and Sam to fill it out. We will be splitting to tackle this project. Gary and dad are the two drivers of the vehicles. Keep them specifically in your prayers. It truly is hectic. Safety in travel and on the job site has to be prayed for double this trip. Sorry bout that. Also, there have supposedly been 12 houses mostly built in the last two weeks. According to the report, all we have to do is put the plywood walls up, pop the window and door in, and put the porch on. Everything else has been done. That drastically lightens our load to say the least! Miracles have been happening even before we got here.
I think I can safely say that we all felt your prayers raining down on us as we traveled today. That is a feeling that cannot be described and none of us can thank you enough for the support you have shown us. There were a lot of variables that went into making this trip happen. They couldn’t have happened without your prayers. But the battle isn’t over. Please continue to think about us and pray for us.
That’s all folks. See ya tomorrow!