Monday, March 27, 2017

Day 1- HF arrives!

Dear friends and family,

Today is the day many of us looked forward to. Months of preparation went into this trip and we are all very thankful for the support that you have given us. Whether it be financially, morally, spiritually, emotionally, physically, we sincerely THANK YOU.

This trip means everything to us. Many of us were fascinated at the opportunity to go to Haiti ever since Mr. Dols' convocation on his Haiti experiences. For some of us, this trip is an opportunity to improve our spiritual life and relationship with God, for others its a vacation and an opportunity to unwind and to relax after the rigorous ending weeks of quarter #3. Whatever our reasons for going on this trip are, we are all here for one purpose - to experience a new perspective of life - and to apply these experiences to not only our classmates and fellow travel partners, but also to the world around us and to all people.

Our first day was a rollercoaster of emotions. Beginning the day, many of us felt groggy and exhausted from waking up so early. We were unprepared for the toll little to no sleep would have on us. We started our first day off by arriving at the airport at 3am, all eager to see each other and socialize. Feeling prepared and ready for the day, we complied with the instructions Dols, Witchger, and Doobie had for us. Their instructions and help allowed us to get through the beginning stages of air travel in a breeze. Arriving at the gate, we found ourselves doing various activities with each other. Some of us played card games, others dozed off, some even wrote in their journals explaining their feelings and anticipations for the day. The hour of waiting went by extremely fast and we were all caught by surprise when they started to board passengers for the Minneapolis flight to Miami. After saying our morning prayer and intentions, we boarded our plane. Our flight from MN to FL was fantastic! Some of us found ourselves encapsulated in the complimentary movies, games, music, and information about the trip. Others finding ourselves sleeping and trying to catch up on the lost hours from the nights before. Before we knew it, we arrived in Miami and were excited by the gorgeous weather we hoped to experience in Haiti. After finding some breakfast/lunch, we waited about a half an hour at the gate that would take us from FL to Haiti. This flight went by faster than the previous flight! Everyone was beyond eager to reach our destination. After filling out the travel documents needed to enter Haiti (some of us in pencil), we looked at the clock and we were minutes away from landing. Every single one of us was looking out of the window and taking in the scenery. We have now arrived in Haiti!

The Haiti Airport was a struggle because many of us filled out our travel documents incorrectly (some people wrote in pencil and we won't name names....Mark). After paying our entry fee and correcting our mistake, we headed down to pick up our baggage both personal and our donations. This process turned into waiting about 20 minutes to finally step out into the Haitian weather and scenery. After waiting a while, our Tap-Tap arrived. The Tap-Tap is the open-air bus like vehicle that we are going to be using for our transportation this week. After stuffing our luggage into the Tap-Tap, we found ourselves scrunched together with minimal space as it is a small truck. This is where we experienced first hand the driving style in Haiti. Haitian driving is very different from United States driving. In Haiti, there are no stoplights, there are no stop signs, there are no warnings or guides to go by, no rules or regulations, driving was a chaotic mess. People can travel as fast as they want, as close as they want, and as reckless as they want because it is their style and way of life. After driving about 15 minutes in the Tap-Tap, we arrived at our house! It is absolutely stunning. Rolling into the driveway, we are greeted by an array of flowers, trees, and architecture that is so unique and surprising for many of us. After stepping out of the vehicle, we are greeted by the lovely Healing Haiti staff and they explained some of their rules and the background of the house. The compound is composed of 2 different houses in our section: a 1 story house and a 2 story house (includes a balcony). These two houses hold different Healing Haiti groups and we will be participating and socializing with them throughout the week. After settling in, we meet outside in a small circle of chairs which we decide that it will be our meeting spot for the week. There, we held a small prayer session and quick meeting before we headed to a swimming pool at a local hotel! The opportunity to swim and to relax after a long and stressful trip was very fulfilling to us. We then returned home and ate dinner. Each night we will be having different meals and tonight, we started off our week with a delicious Shepherds Pie with peppers, tomatoes, and dinner rolls. After having a wonderful meal, many of us decided to walk around and get a better understanding of the scenery. Then, we met up for one final time as a group in our usual meeting spot where we discussed our plans for the week in a brief manner and held our extended prayer session hosted by a pair/group of students each assigned a night. After prayer, we then had a final two hours of free time: some played games, others wrote in journals, others fell asleep on the couch, and others decided to go to bed. Our bed time set for tonight is 9pm. Our anticipation and excitement for the upcoming week is massive and we can't wait to share our experience.

To all our family and friends reading our blogs and condensed summaries of our day, we just want to tell you how excited we all are. This opportunity to travel to a different part of the world and to experience an entirely different culture and lifestyle is surreal. We appreciate all that you do for us and from the bottom of our hearts, thank you. We are excited to share with you our experiences in the coming week!!

Written by: Mark