As our plane descended down through the clouds and into the rain early Saturday morning, I got my first glimpse of Haiti below. As my eyes focused on what I began to see, the emotions were intense and immediate. I hadn't set foot on Haitian ground, and tears were already on my face. The coastline is littered in trash of all kinds, houses are in shambles, and the rain has created water holes everywhere. We land on the one landing strip, and quickly head into the two room airport, dodging the rain.
We awaited processing through the line with another mission group on their way to work in an orphanage. Our passports stamped, we were scooted to the side and told to wait. As we tried to find places to stand where the roof wasn’t leaking, we awaited our luggage. A personal paradigm shift occurred immediately-I was frightened by my inability to understand the language, and of the unknown facing me in that moment. Never before had I been such an obvious outsider. My eyes never left our luggage, as I was in fear of it disappearing. Thankfully Pastor Manno arrived and began speaking with the men who had told us to wait. After he convinced them to let us pass without inspection, we were escorted through crowds of people, out the front door and to Pastor’s waiting truck and tap tap. I was so concentrating on watching our leader Connie ahead of me telling me where to go that I did not take time to look around me. Noise and activity were everywhere, but my eyes would not stray from my destination of the safety of that truck.
Through the rain we made our way through Cap Haitian. What my eyes were seeing, my heart could not understand. It looked like a war zone that the people were forced to live in. Buildings crumbled, hillsides were wasting away beneath homes seemingly ready to wash away at any moment, trash floating in every water source, and people, the people…..everywhere. The streets were alive with cars, trucks, motorcycles and bicycles, all seemingly going in every direction, but without order. Chaos. Everywhere I looked, trash and debris were beneath. It was beyond anything I could have imagined, and worse. How could this be real?
We soon found ourselves very quickly at Pastor Manno’s home. His wife, Prissca was there to greet us and welcome us. It felt good shutting that heavy gate and closing out of my mind what I had just seen. As we entered their home, we were greeted with the most amazing smells of lunch that had been prepared and was waiting for us. We quickly settled our suitcases in our rooms and went down to eat a wonderful soup, bread and vegetables.
Because of the rain, our trip to the Welcome Home Haiti land where the house is being built would have to be postponed, as it would be too muddy. After unpacking our gifts for the children at the school, along with our painting supplies and donations, we settled in for some rest before our journey continues.