Friday, January 22, 2010

Airport Scavenger Hunt

Things happen so fast here. Katie and I have such a heart to blog that often we don't get to spend the time I would like reflecting on what all of this means. I suppose the time for that will come later.

I got home today and Katie gave me a very big hug, then told me I was in trouble. I went out today and neither of us expected me to be gone as long as I was. Apparently Katie is fond of me and does not want me playing cowboy all over the city.

At 2:30 I was asked if I thought that I could drive to the airport and pick up some supplies. Much like the DR trip I was working with far less information that I would've liked. "Ben, do you think you can drive to the Airport where MINUSTAH is and pick up a truck of supplies? It is a white truck, 40ft long, and they will be looking for someone wearing this red vest. The driver doesn't have a cell phone." Tosses me a red vest. Kate cringed, but I jumped at the chance because it's an adventure, a chance to get out into the city, and also a chance to drive. Something, may I add, I have not done in Haiti. Ever.

Wade, A CRI team member with a walkie-talkie, joins me and we go off on this wild goose chase.

Every time I leave the school I am just blown away by the devastation on the streets. I have seen so much of it that it is hard to not become numb. Every time I see a downed building I try and put a face to it. I try to remember that it is someone's home, business, livelihood. Not just brick and mortar but someone's savings, passion, or refuge. Being out today really reminded me that this place is destroyed and functioning by the grace of God and the presence of Foreign Aid. (And Troops)

Getting to the airport was pretty easy- light traffic but heavy smog. The pollution in this city is a problem that will need to be addressed eventually. Ya know, once people are done dying of infection and hunger.

We were actually allowed into the airport compound with our truck- a nice US Airman waved me in. But once we were in there finding a white truck was like looking for a needle in a pile of needles. The airport was controlled chaos. Transport planes take off and land every 7 minutes. Blackhawk helicopters move around like flies. Pallets of supplies are everywhere. Troops from nearly every country imaginable are camping 50 yards from the runway. No one seems to know where anything is, a problem that would plague us the whole day.

We made our way to the civilian air strip and talked with people from Samaritan's Purse, MFI, MAF and a whole alphabet soup of aid organizations. No one has seen our truck and no one knows who we should ask.

We keep on driving. Eventually we are in the heart of the UN compound. Blue helments and white trucks are everywhere. It suddenly dawns on me that I am not sure if I am in a secured area. There are troops from two dozen countries here, plenty of different languages spoken, and lots of guns. Just what kind of misunderstanding could a language barrier create that might cause me to get shot at? I really don't want to find out.

We drive around aimlessly for about an hour and ask everyone if the've seen my truck. It goes like this: "Hey, I am with [Aid Org], have you seen a 40-foot white truck with our logo on it?" Every time the response is no. I ask Peruvians, Americans, French and Germans. In 4 different languages, no.

We finally got directed to a UN office who might help us- apparently they track all their shipping. I ask the guy behind the desk about my truck. He is clueless. But I notice that he has a UT Longhorns shirt hanging behind him. I ask if he is from Texas and we bond immediately. This salty-tongued man clues me in that if the truck came in a UN convoy, then it went to a different logistics center. He also lets me know that he has a very nice beverage collection and would really like some ice. He is willing to barter for ice. I do know that the school has freezer that is running on generator power. I plan on visiting him soon.

It starts to get dark and we head out for a UN compound next to the US Embassy. The log yard, as this place is called, is not manned by nice salty-tongued Texans. They are Haitian and for some reason cannot speak English. It becomes clear that our truck, which we have now been searching for for the better part of 4 hours, is not around. We have a terse radio conversation with our home base and let them know we are coming back to school. Quickly. Night time in Port with no street lights is an unfriendly place for two blan who do not speak Creole

We pulled in after dark after almost involuntarily becoming a tap-tap, possibly committing a hit and run, and fleeing the scene of an accident... only to find out the truck driver had called our HQ after we made the decision to come home to let our organization know that he was now at the airport and wanted to meet up with us.(Where did he get a cell phone?) We are going to try and find him again tomorrow.

All in all it is just another sunny day in Port-au-Prince.

9 comments:

  1. Every time I find myself sitting down at my computer, the first place I go is this blog, then your facebooks. I am obsessed with wanting to know the next story. I love and adore you both and can't wait to read each days amazing journey. You are growing in so many unexpected ways. I know you are a true blessing on everyone you come in contact with and all of us back here safe at home. Stay safe, love each other, hug often! Ben, stay out of trouble!

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  2. Oh my gosh, how incredibly frustrating!! I do hope tomorrow goes better for you. At least you got to meet the "beverage man"! :-)

    I'm watching the telethon on tv tonight...all kinds of famous celebrities and not-so-famous people singing and speaking. It will be interesting to see how much they raise tonight.

    Btw, there's a bunch of people in Haiti using Twitter to connect with each other. Maybe you should check it out. I have tweeted the link to this blog and will do so again soon.

    Please be careful!

    ~Another Texan

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  3. Thanks for taking care of my husband, Wade Isaacs, today. He called and told me all about your adventure. He said you did a good job driving today! Blessings to you guys!

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  4. Just thought I'd let you know that following your blog and reading your stories about helping people has reminded me that mission work is more then just what we learn about at camp. It can be little things, like giving a kid a tootsie pop.

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  5. Wade's a great guy to get lost with. I'm supposed to come out mid-Feb. Probably meet you then. Tell Wade Joseph said hello.

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  6. Katie & Ben,
    This passage from Isaiah spoke to me this morning as I prayed for you.
    "Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing with quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If you will do away with the yoke of oppression... and if you will spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame." -Isaiah 58
    Continuing to pray for you.
    In Christ's Love, Vicky

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  7. What an adventure. Your lives will never be the same. Any difficulty will prove easier when you think on these days. Just think about sitting in a rocker with your grandbabies talking about what you did way back in 2010. God bless.

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  8. Kate, take a look at the list of prayer requests that you have put on this blog (and your postcard). Think about how God has answered EACH one of them in the last 4 weeks. He is so good. Mom

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  9. You guys are great and doing the best,Am pretty sure you are under cover of the creator for thinking of working in this. I love this blog , every time i get here the first place is B & K.

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