My feet are currently wrapped up in my pink dress, that I crammed in my backpack this morning as I packed for the airport, so my feet don’t start to freeze. Philipson is snoring (for reals) on the bench in front of me. Santia and Sherley are sharing a bench to the side of me. Michelet couldn’t fit his sleeping bag into his checked luggage so he carried it around all day…and is now GRATEFULLY passed out on top of it on the floor. The Judes are spooning on the bench behind me. Jeannel is sleeping with a snow beanie on and BethAnn is probably somewhere around gate 33 still trying to get the Panama City International Airport Free WiFi to connect so that she can write home about this unbelievable day. 😀
It started out back in Belvil. It felt like a Monday even though it’s Sunday. Sean called a class gathering at 8:30am. We spent the first 45 mins discussing the fact that 2 laptops and an ipod were stoled out of our house last night. We retraced the last 96 hours and tried to determine who has been around who seemed like they were capable of doing that to us. Poor Nathan Case…he took his outreach team to a soccer came on thursday night and someone pick-pocketed his smart phone. Now this this morning his Macbook Pro is gone. 😦 Please pray for protection over his identification and personal information as they are in the hands of 2 different people in Haiti. Pray also for the outreach team he is leading that leaves this week to spend 2 months in the DR and Guatemala. All of the plans and contact information for their team was in his phone and laptop.
Well that was a nice little blog entry i wrote last night before I pasted out on my own comfy green airport “bench”. 🙂
Yesterday was incredible. It seems like a lifetime ago:
Sean Murphy, our school leader took Philipson and I and our 8 DTS students to the airport around 2pm. We made our way through security and checkin with only a few minor complications. (Note to self: Copa allows 70lbs of checked luggage per person. Total. Not two 50 lb bags. Yaye for trying to distribute 20 POUNDS of ‘extra’ luggage between the rest of your team’s luggage once at the checkin counter.) 🙂
As we walked out onto the tarmac just before 5pm to board our plane I got SO excited for our team that I was literally bouncing around and clapping my hands. Seven of them had never been on a plane before. 😀
I rearranged the seating a little bit so I could sit by Santia, one of our Haitian girls, and as we were getting ready to take off she kept said “oh Ewika, I am not afwaid…sa bon!”. It was a small plane and I’m POSITIVE everyone onboard with us was aware that we were a group of first time fliers. There was a lot of clapping and “ohhh my goodness-es” and “wooooows” and “sa belle AMPIL”‘s!!!!! Ahhh…it was SO FUN!!! Not to mention we had one of the longest and most beautiful sunsets I personally have ever seen.
After only a slight increase in stress levels, all 10 customs forms were filled out semi-properly (along with a form asking if we’ve been vomiting, experiencing diarrhea, or been in contact with anyone with cholera in the past 48 hours) we arrived in Panama City, Panama.
It’s been an incredible, unexplainable, CRAZY, good and challenging 3 months in Haiti. When I walked off the pane, for a brief moment, I felt like I was back in the States (I even flushed my toilet paper when we went to the bathroom!). As I began to listen and see everything around me I heard nothing but spanish. Then I REALLY felt like I was back home in Chula Vista!!! hahaha…I forgot how much I love Spanish.
Then I tried to speak it.
“Hola, como ou yayi?!” “somos un equip de misioneros…ou konne donde estan los toiletes…i mean…los banos?!?”
What’s the proper term for Cringlish/Spanglish mixed together with a terrible addition of “i just got off a plane and have no idea where I am but there are 8 people depending on me and my co-leader?!”
It was REALLY not pretty! I can honestly say that was the most confused my brain has EVER felt. I would think something in english, try to say it in spanish, and it would come out mostly in broken Creole.
As we made our way down to immigration we were greeted IMMEDIATELY by the Panamanian air force (oh gosh…it’s been so long since I’ve written an update…that had been arranged a week or more ago..I was just surprised us they found us in the airport so quickly!). They welcomed us and gathered us together as a team and took our passports for us to personally deliver them to the immigration officers.
And that…ladies and gentlemen of the internet…is when outreach took its first semi unexpected turn out of my control and into God’s control.
See, when i learned we had a 20 hour layover in Panama just a couple weeks ago I began looking for a place we could stay for one night.
Now, let me interject here that when we purchased our tickets through Copa both the airline and our friend at the Brazilian embassy assured me that our Haitian students would not need a transit visa in Panama to get to Brazil.
So, through a really fun long story of God’s unexpected provision, our team was offered to be picked up by the Panamanian Air Force, transported to the YWAM base in Panama City, fed dinner, given beds to sleep in, fed breakfast, transported to the Panamanian Air Force base in the morning to share Jesus with ALL of the airmen stationed there, fed lunch by the Air Force, and then transported back to the airport in time for our 3:20pm flight to Brazil.
oh ya. for free.
Have I EVER mentioned how COOL God is?!
Anyway, he is EXTREMELY cool, however that wasn’t exactly what he had in mind for us.
Rewind to last Monday when I announced all this exciting news about God’s provision in Panama in our morning staff meeting. After the meeting one of our Haitian guys informed me that Haitians DO need visas if they want to leave the airport in Panama. In a scramble, and with very little internet access, I spent the next 2 days trying to research this and figure out what could be done about getting a visa. When google and a few phone calls to Panama consuls in the US simply could not provide me with the information I needed for our Haitian students I packed up all the information I gathered for our Brazilian visas and trekked across Port-au-Prince in an attempt to have the consular hand over 10 transit visas. 🙂
I didn’t get passed the front gate. But for good reason…
Rober and I were told in both Creole and English that the Haitians would NOT need visas to leave the airport for one night as long as they had their boarding passes for their Brazil flights the following day.
So, although I realized every piece of information I received contradicted itself…I decided to believe everything would be fine when we arrived in Panama.
Fast forward to the Panamanian air force greeting us last night as we came down the stairs to the immigration area of the airport…
After about an hour, and a phone call to the Brazilian consular back in Haiti, it was settled:
All Haitians DO IN FACT need visas in order to leave the Panama City International Airport! (lol…spread the word people!)
Bethann and I, however, took our US passports and were allowed to freely come and go as we pleased. Maybe one day I’ll write about all my thoughts on inequality, and being born into unearned privilege, and what it felt like for me as i took my passport and left our 8 Haitian brothers and sisters to go meet with David Tracy past the baggage claim area.
David greeted us and then turned around to show us the full sized tour bus that was waiting for us outside. He was SO disappointed and sorry that our plans weren’t going to work out. Then he informed us that the dinner that they had been preparing for us was on its way and that he had arranged for us to get it past security and back to the team.
When the food arrived it was delivered by a sweet Panamanian man named Carlos, who blessed Bethann and me, prayed over us, and told us how good his broccoli and chicken, and wontons were. 🙂
As we were getting ready to leave David told me Carlos’ name and informed me that he has been to Haiti many times and has a real heart for the Haitian people. As soon as he said that I looked back at Carlos and realized, I knew this man!!! My reaction was something like this, “CARLOS!!! I MET YOU IN MY HOUSE IN BELVIL IN JUNE!!!! You prayed over me and anointed my feet with oil!!!!!!”
He said, “yes, I know you sweetheart! Now I bring you dinner in Panama!”
And this is the way the family of God works across this planet. 🙂
This morning as we were trying to figure out what to do with our extra time, Philipson and I decided we may as well start ministry right away.
We gathered our team together in our little corner of the airport next and started the time with worship. When we finished the first song there were 2 security guards and a supervisor standing over us. The supervisor informed us, “you sound like angels…please, can you sing another song…it sounds so good”. 🙂
When we finished the second song a pastor from Columbia was standing next to us and told us “I heard you from the other side of the airport and the Holy Spirit told me to come over here. It’s so good to meet brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world. Who are you?”
When we finished talking with the Pastor we offered to pray for him. As soon as we offered, the supervisor, who was still standing there, said “me too…I am Christian too…pray for me too!!” As we all said our good byes the pastor pulled out his wallet and handed Philipson $60. He INSISTED on blessing our team and told us there was no way he could NOT give us the money.
So, lunch in Panama was on an english speaking Pastor from Columbia. 🙂
Did I already mention in this blog how GOOD God is, and how awesome his family is?
Here is a pic with the second Pastor Carlos 🙂
This flight to Rio is half empty. I’m sitting in the back right now so I can take up an entire row. 🙂 I’m so STOKED to land in Brazil in a matter of hours. And I’m even more stoked to see everything God has for us and walk out everything He wants to do through us over the next 2 months.
Boarding our flight for Rio 😀
God is good people. Allll the time. Everrrry where. 🙂
Love from South America 🙂