Travel day number two of the trip. But this time we were heading back home to CT.
It is a bittersweet feeling.
We are leaving a new family to come back to our home families. The connections we created and established with Team Haiti and the people of Zoranje throughout the week are invaluable.
God brought us together for this trip for one sole mission. But He also hand picked each one of us for a reason. We are all in different stages of our walk with Him. Whatever that purpose was, whether it was accomplished or not, He has also changed our hearts for the people of Haiti.
Our last breakfast in Haiti this morning was just like any other. Richard and Kelly had bought us cinnamon roll (“pull apart”) bread at the Baptist Mission. The Rebo coffee aroma filled the kitchen. Our prayers included thanks for such an amazing week and requests for safe travels.
The cattle car was all packed. But we weren’t heading up to Zoranje. All of our travel bags lined the middle of the cattle car. And we were on our way to the Port-Au-Prince airport.
When we were a few turns past the guesthouse, our youngster Nathaniel, shouted out, “Where is Kevin?!”
What we had termed “The Haiti High” had struck us. We had left Kevin at the guesthouse. Cue Macauley Culkin in Home Alone…
He usually rides in Richard’s truck on the way to Zoranje, so it didn’t seem out of the ordinary that he wasn’t there.
Scrambling back to the guesthouse, Pastor Andy joked, “He probably thought that the rapture had happened. But then he saw Kelly (Richard’s wife) and knew that it was okay.”
Check-in, security and boarding went smoothly. On the plane we were able to have some quiet moments of reflection. The thought of coming home was such a surreal feeling for us.
Customs and baggage claim in Miami went smoothly. Except for one of us. Pastor Andy had left his backpack on the plane. The Haiti High had struck again. But thankfully security was able to track it down and bring it to him.
The search for a place to eat lunch was definitely a hard one. Luckily we had 4 hours to do it. We decided to split up in groups to make it easier. Some stuck with the food court options. And the majority of us tracked down a TGI Fridays after walking to a different terminal and back to our gate’s terminal.
We arrived safely at La Guardia airport. Pastor Andy got his strawberry milk, which he had been talking about all week long. We are hoping the $5 that he paid for it in the terminal was well worth it.
After grabbing our bags, we loaded a shuttle bus. Even though it wasn’t the same cattle car. And it wasn’t the same ride up the mountains. And it wasn’t the same beautiful scenery (have you seen NYC?!). It was the same laughing and chatting that we had consistently enjoyed every night together.
Thank you for everyone who contributed to the first team on the ground in Haiti for Operation: Hope. Whether you contributed financially or prayed for us, God had taken notice. He blessed our group. He blessed our trip. He has blessed the people of Zoranje. He has blessed the church grounds. We cannot wait to go back to see the continued progress that God readily provides in Zoranje. Continue to pray for Operation: Hope and for Zoranje.
Our Top 14 Favorite Memories (because there were 14 of us)
1. Being on the church grounds for the first time and hearing the sweet melody of their worship
2. The delirium of the end of the day hang-outs and Team Spotlight questions on the balcony patio…Sonic The Porcupine and Tired Bill (little inside joke for us)
3. PA spraining his ankle…twice
4. Sunrises and beautiful landscape while driving in the cattle car
5. Being amazed at how many bottles of Coca-Cola Richard drinks during the workday
6. Team Gravel versus Block & Mortar United versus Team Water and Sand… and Team Gil versus Team A Few Old Guys
7. Lunch break with Team Haiti
8. Soccer balls and DumDums lollipops with the kids of Zoranje
9. Bacon, pancakes and Rebo coffee at breakfast
10. Paulo ripping his cargo shorts while running to get in the group photo
11. At the end of our four labor days, gathering together with Team Haiti to translate our thanks and appreciation for each other and reaffirm our dedication to their community. Hearing Stephan pray in Creole for us, Team Haiti and the people of the community who were gathered along the fence watching us.
12. The children of Zoranje sitting with us outside the church grounds, stealthily touching us as if we were foreign creatures and giggling. When they became bold enough to steal Zach’s and Amber’s hats, put them on themselves, each other and then back, and steal them all over again.
13. Seeing the transformation of the church building and its people in only 4 days
14. The fact that it wasn’t all just business for us. A fun theme on our mission trip was catching people sleeping. The challenge was to get a photo, preferably a selfie with them before they woke up. Enjoy!