Mission Trip Haiti: Business as Usual, Almost — Part 2

Everyone was shocked; I hadn’t even once considered that the epicenter could be Port-au-Prince.

My first reaction was untempered, “Let’s go! People need our help!” However, Bruce kindly and patiently explained our position: a group of white people, with no experience in disaster recovery, who can’t speak French or Creole, and don’t have place to stay, food to eat, or water to drink. Of course, Bruce was right; we would have been more of burden than anything. I guess that’s the kind of insight one gets after working in Haiti for twenty-five years.

Life continued, more or less, as normal. Bruce was working overtime trying to coordinate relief efforts with his organization, CrossWorld, and we did what we could for the people of Port-au-Prince from where we were by praying. The only real impact to us was that our days were a bit shorter since Bruce had so much going on.

DSC_5281
18.0 mm || 1/250 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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70.0 mm || 1/320 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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38.0 mm || 1/400 || f/4.2 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti



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62.0 mm || 1/200 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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27.0 mm || 1/125 || f/3.8 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/1250 || f/3.5 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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24.0 mm || 1/4000 || f/3.8 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/500 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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70.0 mm || 1/4000 || f/5.6 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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70.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/5.6 || ISO1000 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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70.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/5.6 || ISO1000 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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35.0 mm || 1/6 || f/4.2 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70


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18.0 mm || 0.6 || f/3.5 || ISO320 || NIKON D70


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22.0 mm || 1/5 || f/3.8 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70

By Thursday, we were in full swing at Foison. We were laying electrical conduit and wiring, digging holes for the foundation, and having fun.

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18.0 mm || 1/125 || f/3.5 || ISO500 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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34.0 mm || 1/200 || f/4.2 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/800 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/400 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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65.0 mm || 1/5000 || f/4.5 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


DSC_5440
18.0 mm || 1/8000 || f/3.5 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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44.0 mm || 1/250 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/5.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/1250 || f/5.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/5.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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48.0 mm || 1/400 || f/5.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


DSC_5518
18.0 mm || 1/1250 || f/5.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


DSC_5532
18.0 mm || 1/60 || f/5.0 || ISO1000 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti

Friday threw another curve ball. We’d been gone for a week now, and up until this point, things were still looking hopeful for leaving on Monday, maybe Tuesday at the latest. Then the word came down, American Airlines was continuing to cancel flights and we were rebooked for the following Saturday.

This was a hit to the gut for everyone, I think. Everyone had jobs back home and most of us were using vacation time to be down here. What was the plan now? How much more vacation time would we have to use up? What if we ran out? Some people were in more precarious positions than others, with a limited amount of vacation time and no reprieve if they ran out.

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18.0 mm || 1/800 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/1250 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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70.0 mm || 1/500 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/40 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/400 || f/5.6 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti

Saturday was our scheduled off day and we went to the beach on the northern coast of Port-de-Paix. It was good for everyone to get a chance to relax, tensions were high as the uncertainty of our position became more and more apparent. It had been several days since we felt any aftershocks, yet news of the destruction in Port-au-Prince was still only trickling in.

One of the biggest differences in being in this particular mission field is the change in communication. Information access becomes a resource almost as precious as food or water. Satellite Internet is paid for by the megabyte. There is no newspaper or evening news, at least for us. And calls back to the United States cost $2.39/minute…if you can get through.

All of our information came from what Bruce and Deb told us. And the only things they knew where what they gleaned from sporadic checks of news sites online and emails from coworkers in Port-au-Prince who’s homes weren’t completely destroyed. Susie Day, a missionary based in Port-au-Prince, wrote, “I went briefly into Dad’s study…then it hit…it was unbelievable…it was horrible…dad’s office caved in on me…I had no time to react, no warning…a loud noise, then the violent shaking and screaming…I fell down on the floor in front of dad’s sofa, covered in debris. I got hit real hard to the right side of my head … I started talking to God…praying…crying…my legs were buried and I had injured my right arm. I guess I got up on dad’s desk…the iron window at his desk caved in with the wall and I climbed on top and pulled myself out. It was horrible outside – people screaming…rushing up the street…all over.”

The end to Saturday really couldn’t have been more perfect; well, plans for how we were going to leave Haiti would have been nice, but one thing at a time. Deb cooked us a Thanksgiving dinner, complete with turkey, mash potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green beans, and Pumpkin Pie.

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210.0 mm || 1/800 || f/5.6 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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155.0 mm || 1/800 || f/6.3 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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70.0 mm || 1/800 || f/6.3 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/5.6 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/5.6 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


haiti beach
NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/60 || f/3.5 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70


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31.0 mm || 1/60 || f/4.0 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70

By Sunday, plans for our evacuation were in place. I hate using that word, we weren’t in danger and we had plenty of supplies; let’s call it an unplanned deviation in plans resulting in less than ideal travel conditions. The plan was to drive 10 hours to Cap-Haitian, then catch a flight on Missionary Flights International to Florida. Once in Florida, we would resume out flight on American Airlines from Miami back to Seattle.

Going to church was almost a surreal event, everyone lost someone or knew somebody who lost someone in the earthquake. Despite the tragedy, people were thankful for what they did have, and they showed it; the outpouring of love and faith transcended the Creole language.

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18.0 mm || 1/125 || f/3.5 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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55.0 mm || 1/20 || f/4.5 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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55.0 mm || 1/250 || f/4.5 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/80 || f/3.5 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70


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70.0 mm || 1/40 || f/4.5 || ISO800 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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34.0 mm || 1/50 || f/4.2 || ISO800 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


DSC_5629
70.0 mm || 1/40 || f/4.5 || ISO1250 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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29.0 mm || 1/1250 || f/4.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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80.0 mm || 1/320 || f/4.2 || ISO400 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 0.5 || f/3.5 || ISO400 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 2.5 sec || f/3.5 || ISO640 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 458 sec || f/7.1 || ISO800 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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50.0 mm || 13 sec || f/1.8 || ISO1000 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti

We spent Monday doing what we learned to do best: hurry up and wait. We needed to pack light for our journey home, so we only took the essentials. Everything else we left behind to be sent back later. One last round of soccer with the kids and a final check of our bags. Tuesday would be go day.

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18.0 mm || 1/800 || f/3.5 || ISO320 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/800 || f/3.5 || ISO320 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/800 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/800 || f/5.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/1250 || f/5.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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56.0 mm || 1/500 || f/5.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


DSC_5815
18.0 mm || 0.3 || f/5.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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34.0 mm || 1/80 || f/5.0 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


DSC_5822
70.0 mm || 1/320 || f/5.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


DSC_5824
70.0 mm || 1/800 || f/5.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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170.0 mm || 1/250 || f/5.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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80.0 mm || 1/200 || f/5.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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100.0 mm || 1/320 || f/5.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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270.0 mm || 1/250 || f/5.6 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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95.0 mm || 1/125 || f/5.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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130.0 mm || 1/160 || f/5.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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300.0 mm || 1/200 || f/5.6 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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70.0 mm || 1/640 || f/5.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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35.0 mm || 1/5 || f/4.2 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
Beau Champ, Nord-Ouest, Haïti

In many ways, I feel Tuesday morning came to fast.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step; ours began by piling 17 people in to the back of one 1980’s Toyota Land Cruiser configured as a pickup with high metal sides to carry cargo. Plus two spare tires. And our luggage. We left just before 7am, and set off for Cap-Haitien. The northern coast of Haiti was picturesque. It was easy to forget that we still in a country so ravaged by poverty, war, corruption, and now a natural disaster.

The roads were as before, however as neared the mountain pass they became progressively worse. We crossed several giant puddles, which would appropriate to describe as very small lakes. We made it up most of the mountain range before we ran into our first problem, a flat tire.

With NASCAR pitcrew-esque speed, we deftly changed the tire and were back on our way, although we ended up walking the rest of the way to the summit to reduce the risk of getting another flat.

Once we got out of the mountains, the roads became better, we even experienced some paved sections again1! The traffic in Cap-Haitien was very congested, however we were able to make our way to the missionary compound we were staying at, which was just ten minutes from the airport. Frankly, we were just happy to have a good nights rest.

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18.0 mm || 1/200 || f/13.0 || ISO250 || NIKON D70
, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/3.5 || ISO250 || NIKON D70
St.-Louis du Nord, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/640 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
St.-Louis du Nord, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
St.-Louis du Nord, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/400 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
St.-Louis du Nord, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/640 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
St.-Louis du Nord, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/640 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
St.-Louis du Nord, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/800 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
St.-Louis du Nord, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/1250 || f/5.6 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Bonneau, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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29.0 mm || 1/400 || f/5.6 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Bonneau, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/125 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Anse-À-Foleur, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/640 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Anse-À-Foleur, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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22.0 mm || 1/320 || f/3.8 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Anse-À-Foleur, Nord-Ouest, Haïti


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44.0 mm || 1/500 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
, Nord, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Le Borgne, Nord, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Le Borgne, Nord, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Bayeux, Nord, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Bayeux, Nord, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Petit Bourg de Port Margot, Nord, Haïti


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70.0 mm || 1/800 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Limbé, Nord, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/3200 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Limbé, Nord, Haïti


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70.0 mm || 1/800 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Acul du Nord, Nord, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/1250 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Acul du Nord, Nord, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Cap-Haïtien, Nord, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Cap-Haïtien, Nord, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
La Petite Anse, Nord, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/640 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Cap-Haïtien, Nord, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/250 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Cap-Haïtien, Nord, Haïti

The next day, we didn’t know when Missionary Flights was going to arrive at the airport, so we played it safe and got there with plenty of time to spare2.

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18.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Cap-Haïtien, Nord, Haïti


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70.0 mm || 1/3200 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Cap-Haïtien, Nord, Haïti


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62.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Cap-Haïtien, Nord, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/4000 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Cap-Haïtien, Nord, Haïti

Just after four in the afternoon, we left the Cap-Haitien International Terminal and walked out to our awaiting DC-3.

A relic of World War II, our DC-3, N400MF, was manufactured in 1944. With a cruising speed of 150 MPH (almost 3.5 times slower than a conventional 737, which cruises at 511MPH), it took us over six hours to fly to Fort Pierce, Florida. The unpressurized cabin meant that we had to fly low, about 8000 feet according to my GPS, offering a unique view of the various Caribbean islands.

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18.0 mm || 1/3200 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Cap-Haïtien, Nord, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/3200 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Cap-Haïtien, Nord, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Cap-Haïtien, Nord, Haïti


DSC_6067
18.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Cap-Haïtien, Nord, Haïti


DSC_6075
70.0 mm || 1/400 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Cap-Haïtien, Nord, Haïti


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18.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/3.5 || ISO640 || NIKON D70
, ,


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18.0 mm || 1/125 || f/3.5 || ISO800 || NIKON D70
, ,

We had a layover in Turks and Caicos to get fuel and were treated to pizza and snacks. There was a copy of the local newspaper sitting on the table. There was a picture of the collapsed Haitian Presidential Palace; it had been over a week since the earthquake and this was the first time I had seen any pictures of the destruction.

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70.0 mm || 1/320 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Five Cays Settlement, Providencales and West Caicos, Turks and Caicos Islands


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18.0 mm || 1/4000 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Five Cays Settlement, Providencales and West Caicos, Turks and Caicos Islands


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29.0 mm || 1/60 || f/4.0 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
Five Cays Settlement, Providencales and West Caicos, Turks and Caicos Islands


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18.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Five Cays Settlement, Providencales and West Caicos, Turks and Caicos Islands

When we landed in Fort Pierce, members of Deb’s church, Boca Raton Community Church, picked us up and took us out to dinner! We weren’t able to secure hotel rooms, so the church also gave us all a place to sleep for the night, along with the first hot shower we had in two weeks3

The kind church folks picked us up again in the morning and drove us to the Tri-Rail rail station where we caught a commuter train to Miami International Airport.

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18.0 mm || 1/15 || f/3.5 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
Boca Raton, Florida, United States

.

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18.0 mm || 1/100 || f/3.5 || ISO800 || NIKON D70
Hialeah, Florida, United States


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52.0 mm || 1/50 || f/4.5 || ISO800 || NIKON D70
Miami, Florida, United States

Amber, through her amazingness, got us all on a flight to Seattle via Chicago.

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70.0 mm || 1/160 || f/4.5 || ISO800 || NIKON D70
Miami International Airport, Florida, United States

We had a long wait at the airport. Some people read through Newsweek and Time. We stole glances at CNN Headline News whenever they had a “Haiti Update”4. Alex graciously allowed me to use his iPhone and I got through several hundred of my emails.

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24.0 mm || 1/250 || f/3.8 || ISO400 || NIKON D70
Miami International Airport, Florida, United States


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18.0 mm || 1/160 || f/3.5 || ISO1250 || NIKON D70
Miami International Airport, Florida, United States

The rest of the trip was really just going through the motions. My mind was else where (perhaps in Haiti, perhaps somewhere else) while my body was being transported back to Seattle.

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18.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Miami International Airport, Florida, United States

I kept replaying the events of the last two weeks in my head, over and over and over.

I tried sleeping, but I couldn’t. Which is funny because I slept on all the planes on the way to Haiti. Now when I wanted to sleep the most, I couldn’t.

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18.0 mm || 1/160 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70

We arrived at SeaTac, the exact same gate we departed from 14 days earlier. A nice sort of closure, I think. High-fives all around and one last shot of the group together before we raced to our loved ones.

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18.0 mm || 1/60 || f/3.5 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
Tacoma International Airport, Washington, United States


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18.0 mm || 1/60 || f/3.5 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
Tacoma International Airport, Washington, United States


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18.0 mm || 1/60 || f/3.5 || ISO640 || NIKON D70
Tacoma International Airport, Washington, United States


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18.0 mm || 1/30 || f/3.5 || ISO640 || NIKON D70
Tacoma International Airport, Washington, United States


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18.0 mm || 1/60 || f/3.5 || ISO1600 || NIKON D70
Tacoma International Airport, Washington, United States


  1. Praise God from whom all pavement flows… 

  2. hurray up and wait was one of big themes for our trip and a great time to practice our virtues of patience 

  3. When I got in the shower, I turned the knob on the left and let it run for a few moments. The water was still cold, so turned it off and tried the knob on the right. It was also cold! I quietly shouted, “No! No! No!” and frantically turned both knobs on. After a few seconds, the warm water started to flow. Whew. 

  4. I use that term very loosly 

2 Replies to “Mission Trip Haiti: Business as Usual, Almost — Part 2”

  1. Hello,
    I am trying to connect with Bruce Robinson in Haiti by email or phone. I have a Christian school in Passe Catabois near Beau Champs. I need an Engineer to answer some questions regarding a well for our school. Would you mind assisting in this? Thanks so much.

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