Thursday, March 20, 2008

Traveling to Haiti

Whenever I travel anywhere, especially by myself, there are multiple things that always happen. Now, mix that in with the fact that I was traveling for a missions trip, and it spells disaster. Satan will try every maneuver he possibly can to stop me. With that said, let me take you on the journey that I endured on March 18.

For those of you that know me, I mean really know me, you know that I very much dislike packing. This is mainly because I can’t decide what to take. For a mission trip, my problem goes away…especially for this trip. I took 2 skirts, 3 shirts, a dress, flip flops, and a pair of tennis shoes. I was all ready to go Tuesday morning. For some reason, I decided that I should check my flight online around 3:30 pm. I couldn’t find my flight online, so I called the person who booked our tickets. I was to wait for a phone call back…which I received about 4:40. Apparently, American Airlines decided to cancel the flight that I was on from Fresno to LA, and then cancelled the rest of my flights and rescheduled it for the next day. So I rushed to the airport and arrived just in time to get on the 5:30 flight to LA. If I had been a minute later arriving to the airport, I would not have made it to LA. I am still trying to figure out when they were actually going to tell me that my flight was changed.

Off to LA I went, with no other problems (like that wasn’t enough to give me a heart attack, right?). My time in LAX was uneventful, which was really nice. I got to talk to a couple of people that I knew I would be missing (even though I will only be gone for 6 days) and off to Miami I went at 9:15 pm. There were multiple things that I would have rather not experienced on that flight (see blog below), but it ended up being ok. Even though I was exhausted, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to sleep on my own. It was a mixture of excitement and uncomfortableness. I had bought the travel packets of Advil pm. Since it said only take 2 if you have time for a full night’s sleep, I figured taking one would be ok…

I ended up sleeping for about 2 and a half hours, which was better than nothing. I arrived in Miami at 5 am (2 am for those on the west coast) and boarded the next plane at 6:30 am.
Once I got on the plane, we were informed that there was a mechanical problem, they were checking it out, but they were not sure what the problem was. That is always a comforting statement. By this time, I expected nothing less. I am not sure how long we were sitting before we took off. I was falling in and out of sleep, all the while there was a guy sitting next to me who wanted to talk. The flight to Port Au Prince was uneventful. The guy, Louievinson, kept talking to me, and I genuinely wanted to talk and listen, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open. The flight was relatively short (compared to my cross country trek) and I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t as hot and humid as I thought it was going to be.

Once I arrived in Port Au Prince, I was to follow Mom’s (Chris Karlyn) instructions explicitly. I had memorized exactly what I was supposed to do. Go through customs. Check. Pick up bags. Check. Don’t let anybody help me, all they want is money. Check. Find Nadar, who will be holding a sign with my name on it. Ch…Nope, no Nadar. I ended up leaving my bags in the airport to take a better look at ALL of the people who were out there. One guy asked if he could take me to the smaller airport, and I said I was supposed to wait for Nadar. He told me that was his brother…like I was really going to believe him? I told him no thanks, and went back inside the airport. This is when I went into a little bit of a panic. I had a number for a person in Haiti, but couldn’t remember the international code (which is 001 in case you were wondering). I called home while trying to figure out the code, probably freaked my mom out, since right after she answered, the person who was “Nadar’s brother” asked if my name was Stephanie. I got off the phone immediately. I knew this guy was legit since I never told him my name. I talked to Nadar on the phone, and he was to be there in 5 minutes. Find Nadar. Check.

Nadar took me to the smaller airport where I was to go to Tropical Airways and find Phillip. I arrived at the small airport at 9 am. Chris had set up a flight for me, and I had cash to give him. Was Phillip there? You guessed it…nope. I argued with the girls for about an hour on what I was told and how the arrangement was set up. At this point, I was about ready to give up. Satan was trying really hard to keep me from getting to Haiti. I am not much of a crier, but I was about ready to ball. This was a combination of exhaustion and I was done. Nadar ended up coming back to help straighten it out. He had a number to reach Chris on. Let’s just say Chris set them straight…or so I thought.

I paid them the amount that Chris told me to, but then they made me sign something saying that I would pay the difference when I returned, which was not what Chris told me. I signed the paper. At this point, all I wanted to do was to get to Pignon, no matter how that had to happen. I was at this tiny airport from 9-12:30, it was hot, annoyingly loud, and by this point, I REALLY couldn’t keep my eyes open. Since I was the only white person around, I was stared out, which I really don’t mind. They probably thought I was crazy since I kept falling asleep, my head would drop, and then I would pop up.

I got on the plane at 12:30. Phillip arrived right before we left, and told me the girls at the counter were mistaken. The amount that I had given them was correct, and he apologized for their behavior. I was just glad that we only had to pay the amount that we had planned for. This was a 19 passenger propeller plane. I don’t get sick in cars, on boats, or on planes…or so I thought. At first, it was exciting, similar to a roller coaster ride. About 10 minutes into the 25 minute flight, I began praying that I would not get sick. Before I knew it, the pilot was landing on a field, and I saw the rest of the team waiting for me. I could not have been happier to see some familiar faces and to be on the ground.

I haven’t decided how much of this I am going to tell my mother. Since she worries about me and the crazy adventures that I go on, I think this might perpetuate the worrying. One thing that neither she nor I can deny, is that although something always happens when I travel, the Lord always protects, always provides, and is always in control.

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