Aug 25, 2010

Haiti Trip: The Experience

So I've been back from Haiti for exactly a week now & I still feel like I haven't even begun to process everything. It was an amazing, intense, challenging, heartbreaking, encouraging, stretching, & overall CRAZY week. The Lord taught me so much, & as I said, I'm still sorting through a lot of things that I saw, experienced, & learned throughout the week. Instead of trying to cram everything into one post, I'm going to break it into at least...8? Haha! jk. But I am going to break it up: the first several posts will be about the actual experience. What we did, where we went, what we ate...etc =) The final post I am hoping to sum up & express what the Lord did in my heart over the course of the trip. First of all, I want to thank everybody for your prayers & encouragement; there were times that I was nervous, or just doubtful about my decision to go, & I'm so thankful for everybody that supported me. You guys are the best =)

Shall we start at the beginning? Lol. I say yes, so starting with Day 1: August 9th...

Started out dark, & insanely early with a 2 am wake up call & 2 1/2 hour drive to the airport in Minneapolis. My flight didn't leave until 6:45, so I took the extra time to do devotions. I was so encouraged as I read through Ephesians that morning sitting alone in the airport. I have to admit that though I was excited & I love to travel, I was definitely nervous about going to a 3rd world country with 11 other people I had never met, to live with missionaries I had also never met. The Lord just used that passage & his Holy Spirit to really calm me & reassure me that this trip was part of His plan for my summer. My flights went well, although no day of travel is complete without a nice sprint through the airport to catch a connecting flight. Lol! I made it to West Palm Beach, Florida around 2 o'clock & met Dave & Carol Jean, the couple who organized the whole trip. I had nothing to worry about because they are both incredibly sweet & fun people! Carol Jean is the sister of the missionaries that we went to help in Haiti. We met the rest of the group (all AWESOME people), grabbed food, made several Walmart trips (I forgot tennis shoes...dumb. Haha!), & finally got to bed in the hotel around 1 am. Long day...

Day 2:
Again, started out dark & early! Lol....noticing a pattern yet? =)
Our group met for breakfast at 5 am in the hotel lobby & then set off to Missionary Flights International in Fort Pierce. If you have never heard of MFI, I encourage you to check them out; they are awesome! So we weighed all of our luggage & set off on our adventure. Let me tell you, flying over the ocean at sunrise was one of the most incredibly beautiful things I have ever seen. I got some great pictures, but....well, I'll save that sad story for later. Lol. We made a short stop in the Bahamas to refuel after about 3 hours in the air & then landed in Haiti about 45 minutes later. We landed in Cap Haitian, which is the second largest city in Haiti with Port au Prince being the largest. The airport was...well, I'll just say the airport was an experience in & of itself. Haha! It was maybe the size of a large garage & about that nice....& dirty. We shipped over A TON of supplies: food, soccer uniforms, balls, school stuff, crafts for the girls, materials for soccer goals, & other various things that the Bowers needed. The Haitian customs system is very corrupt...well, let me just make it clear now that the whole country is extremely corrupt on every level. More about that & the reason for it later...back to the story! =) Tim Bower has to go into a small room & "negotiate" with the Haitian authorities in order to be able to take our luggage.In other words, it required a bribe. Then, the airport staff went through all of the boxes. Thankfully, they didn't take anything, but in the past they have taken things right in front of the owners. There's not really anything you can do if they decide they want to keep something they see. After waiting quite a while to get everything sorted out, we made our way out to the bus. There was a large group of Haitian men lined on both sides of the walkway outside of the airport. I guess they wait there almost every day hoping for some rich tourists to come through. My first couple of steps outside of the airport, I was grabbed  by a Haitian man waiting on the walkway. I don't know how serious he was, but I just jerked my arm away & thought "oh boy...this is going to be an adventure!" Lol. After we got the bus loaded, our next goal was to go to the market for rice, sugar, & a machete or two. For being the second largest city of the country, Cap Haitian is VERY poor.
The roads, although paved at one time, are now just chunks of cement among dirt  paths. I didn't see a single divider, traffic sign, or anything of the sort the entire time we were there. The river is a murky brown that is lined with garbage. If you have ever seen pictures of India, that would be the most similar place I could compare it to. As we drove through town, there were men emptying the sewage right onto the street. When we arrived in the market, it reminded me a lot of the open air market we visited in Peru, except it was crammed into a stuffy building with too many people trying to get where they needed to go. I was thankful that Dave had made us all wear tennis shoes that day because to use his words,  there were A LOT of puddles & none of it was water...ewwwwy! All of those people milling about & all of the booths spilling over with stuff created mass chaos. Our group of 14 plus Tim Bower & 2 of his kids got separated more than once. I had one guy in particular from our group that was doing his best to stick close & make sure nothing happened to me, but it was hard to stay together while there were people trying to get our attention & push their way through the market. It was about 3 pm, none of us had eaten since breakfast, but we soon lost our appetite as we passed through the meat section; goats meat was covered with flies & green spots; the fish was rotting; goat hooves littered the puddled ground. Small children ran around by themselves trying to sell small, dried fish. All of the sights, smells, & craziness was overwhelming. But the thing that really got to me was the look of hopelessness in the eyes of the Haitians. They say that the eyes are the window to the soul, & there was just no hope. I don't know how else I can describe it, but it was heartbreaking. As we exited the building & entered a side street, our group got separated again. About 9 of them were 20 feet ahead of me, separated by a large group of Haitians. All of them trying to get our attention; they call white people "blancs" over there. Lol! I was trying to catch up with them & stay with my "body guard" Jon, but somehow he got stuck about 10 feet behind me for a few seconds & another Haitian man grabbed my wrist. I again jerked away & thankfully Jon caught up, but I was getting frustrated of having a big X on me just because I'm a white girl. Apparently in Haiti, the majority of guys have a fascination with white girls &...well I'm sure you can figure out the rest ;p

We made it safely back to the bus. The Bowers live up in the mountains, about 27 miles outside of Cap Haitian. Because of how bad the roads are, that 27 mile drive takes 3 hours!! But the mountains are absolutely gorgeous! Once we were outside of the city, it changed into the most beautiful place I have ever been, but marred with poverty. The landscape is dotted by shacks & huts made out of scrap metal, or plants from the jungle. Small children wearing rags could be seen walking around by themselves. Women were out doing laundry in a small basin with a rock, or carrying a heavy load on top of their head. After an EXTREMELY bumpy ride, we finally arrived at the Bowers at around 9:30. Our first thought was--DINNER! We still hadn't eaten since breakfast, & the long trip up the mountain restored our appetites. After dinner we received some general guidelines & instructions from the Bowers, sorted out our luggage & sleeping arrangements, & then finally hit the hay around midnight...

Stay tuned for the rest of the trip =)


  1. Wow, and that was only your first day!!!

  2. Haha, yup! It was quite the adventure, & you know how I love adventures =)Lol.

  3. Oh Alicia!!! I am so glad you are posting about your trip on here! I am so proud of you. I can't wait to hear more!

  4. Wow! Sadly, I am finally getting around to reading about your mission trip. I am so excited to read more and find out what God has taught you through this trip!