We stepped off the plane in Port-au-Prince and the air was cool. You know most times when you step off the air-conditioned plane you immediately feel the heat. It wasn’t that way. The sky was cloudy – a gray overcast and the air felt cool.
We went through customs and our luggage was the first bags to come off. In fact they came so quickly and all at once that we were running down the baggage claim area just to catch up to the bags. We walked right through customs without even a glance at our 12 large pieces of luggage.
Conjae had his truck outside waiting for us and we went right to the hotel. I saw the Lashbrook family who had just traveled that day from Port-de-Paix. They told me it was the first day of flying and there were fights as people were desperate to get home. His wife had even been pushed and essentially it was really crazy. That made me a little nervous about what we could expect the next day.
We ordered supper, cleaned up, and watched TV. I felt the muscles in my neck tense up and I immediately decided regardless of how tomorrow folds out – I refuse to think about it anymore. I’m going to be like CURT! 🙂
We drifted to sleep around 9pm and woke up at 6am and headed to the little airport. We arrived and the place had only a few people in it. We sat, drank water and loaded the plane at 8am. We had all but 2 bags on our plane. I knew that we might make it – but all our bags? Wow – when does that happen even on a good day?
We flew over a very muddy Haiti – and I tried to take some pictures from the plane but they weren’t very good. We arrived with a crew of people waiting to see us – we were so excited to see our friends. We heard all kinds of stories about what had happened since we were gone – about all the damage of the hurricanes. I heard how soap is now 3 USD a bar, Rice is now 51 USD a small bag, Gasoline is 15 USD a gallon, and peanut butter 8 USD a jar.
Those prices are if you’re lucky enough to even find them on the street. With the roads in Gonaives being nearly destroyed and bridges still aren’t fixed – the north part of the island remains cut off and the prices continue to soar.
I became teary-eyed as my friends asked more questions about me and my health – and seemed more concerned with how our family was then their own struggle they have in their life. It was all I could do to ask a question – as they kept the conversation on our family.
We rode in the truck, which was waiting for us – Jacques was there. We drove through the muddy streets and I watched the people. So many times they would make eye contact with me but not today. …..perhaps not for the past few weeks.
The kids kept asking when would we be home and I told them soon. We arrived at the campus where I was immediately overwhelmed by people. Hug after hug – kiss after kiss. There were signs all over the campus that said WELCOME HOME CASTILLOS – WE MISS YOU – WE LOVE YOU.
I felt like I was the President who arrived – so many people coming to see me and all just asking how I was. How could they even ask when so much destruction has happened? It was like pulling teeth to get any of them to tell me how their life was really going – they didn’t want to “stress” me out – my Haitian friends – not wanting to stress me out. My friends who lost homes, who are hungry, who cannot afford to buy anything on the street – afraid to stress me out……..humbled…..i’m so humbled….
I saw for the first time something I thought I may never see. My eyes immediately filled with tears and the emotions from traveling today – it was just too much. What was this beautiful site – this beautiful gift God gave me today? It was our little Gigi – the one we left behind – the one sleeping in the Miriam Center each night – the one we were going to come “rescue” from the heat. It was Gigi WALKING ALL OVER CAMPUS. That’s right – you heard me. The crowd of people below couldn’t contain themselves – they were yelling and clapping and so excited about our big surprise. Gigi – all by herself – with shoes on – with her feet flat on the ground – looking at her hand – walking all by herself. My little girl – walking on ground that’s not level – making turns – having perfect posture – walking around with no one to support her. The tears stream down my cheeks now as I even write. My little girl is walking – just before her 8th birthday.
The beautiful thing about Gigi walking is not the emotional effect that it had on Jose and I as we’ve had her for 6 years now and have done our best. BUT – it was seeing the crowd of employees and friends who couldn’t wait to share in the joy of seeing us watch Gigi walk.
We always wondered if Gigi was able to go anywhere she wanted – where would she go – what would she want to see – where would that little hand lead her – – – I can’t wait to see………….tonight I watched as she walked in and out of the group kitchen and walked all by the tables. She sat down and stood right back up and walked by the dorm. I am blown away by this wonderful gift my God has given me.
Almost afraid to walk into my home – the smell of chlorox was very overwhelming. The house was clean – everything in it’s place – and upon first inspection – nearly roach-free (but i’m not going to really look for them either!)
I sat down for a few hours and socialized with the missionary women! Hearing their stories of how it’s been here – it brings tears to my eyes. Listening to Becca and Danielle tell of their night – of their arrival here – seeing just a little of the emotion they must have had that night as they tell their story – I stand in awe of these two women.
The compound is quiet – no power – not a lot going on. Yet all these missionaries are happy and content. They don’t have to tell me that they’re “okay” I can see it.
It was the perfect day of travel – no doubt due to your prayers. I felt like I spent today watching a life that wasn’t my own…….just carefully observing everyone else – the Haitian people and the missionaries – and what I saw – what God showed me – what brings tears to my eyes – is that some lost all and most lost something – and yet there are smiles……there is laughter…….there is joy.
The river out west is still not passable. We want to start feeding stations ASAP but need to be able to “control” the situation with use of a truck and not a boat. Wesley will be here tomorrow to start making plans on where we want to feed and how we want to go about it. But I’m excited……I’m excited about what this mission is going to do for so many people.
My house here on this earth may be a fortress – But the people I saw today – the people who have joy in the midst of such hard times – who praise God for so little – the home they will have in Heaven will be too large to compare to my little shack. I probably won’t be on the same block as the people I watched today – maybe not even allowed in the same town. And the amazing thing is – I’m perfectly okay with that. It’s very humbling just to be in their presence here on this earth……….