DAY ONE: June 26, 2014
Friday 11:27pm- Come home from a six hour shift at Oberweis
Friday 11:45pm- Start packing one carry on and one personal item
Saturday 1:30am- Check the checklist for last minute forgotten details
Saturday 1:57am- Wake up Dad to get ready to leave for the airport
Saturday 2:30am- Meet the Butlers and the Kiblers at Wheatland Salem to pick up the last of the duffel bags and head on our way to the airport
Saturday 3:30am- Arrive at O’Hare International Airport and meet up with the rest of the mission crew
Saturday 3:45am- Get in line to confirm flight and check 22 bags
Saturday 4:45am- Finish redistributing weight of overweight bags and get in line for security
Saturday 4:57am- Get out of security and start fast-walking towards gate at the end of the hall
Saturday 5:08am- Make it to gate for last call right before they close the doors
Saturday started early for the Soccer Beyond Borders team, and O’Hare wasn’t quite ready for us to leave. But despite long lines, picky bag checkers, and little to no sleep, our crew was still able to make it out of Chicago and safely in Miami. We only had a short layover to grab a quick bite to eat before starting the next leg of our trip and making our way to the Port-Au-Prince airport.
As in the past, we were welcomed by upbeat percussion music and the hot Haiti sun. This year was different, however, because we were able to collect all 22 checked bags of soccer shoes, balls, jerseys, and other donations without much fuss and were met by a van full of helpers from Happy Kids, a volunteer house where we will be staying for half of our trip this year, just down the road from Respire.
The trip from the airport was about two hours, and we were packed into one hot, stuffy van. One thing that made the trip go by a little faster for our team, though, was listening to the end of the Brazil vs. Chile game on the radio, commentated in Haitian Creole, of course! We could only pick out certain names and certain words, so we had to get a little help from our driver, Mark, to figure out exactly what was going on. Just about the time that the game went into penalty kicks, we started noticing that crowds had begun to form around the few market stands and shops that had a TV or radio. Whenever cheers started and smiles began to form, we learned that Brazil had made their kick or Chile had missed theirs. When the game had been settled and Brazil pulled off the win, everyone on either side of the road from little boys to grown women with a baby on their hip started dancing and cheering and waving the Brazil flag. It was incredible to see how much soccer could unite the Haitian community, and it felt wonderful that we were here to share that love of the game and use it to connect with people who spoke a different language in a different country in order to build relationships with each other and with the Lord.
When we finally made it to the Happy Kids site, we were split up into two rooms, one for the girls and one for the boys, each with their own showers, bunk beds, and even air conditioning units that can be used at night. There is even a lovely seating area under a shade cover on the roof to relax, get out of the sun, and cool off in the occasional breeze. After sorting through the bags to organize what stays with the team here and what will be donated in the next few days, we got to work installing the mosquito nets so that not only our team can use them, but so that they can also be used for future teams that will visit.
Will Bulter was able to take a break as an intern at Respire to join us for a spaghetti and salad dinner, before some members of the team rode on the back of the truck to visit Respire and see Megan, Josh, who run Respire, and Adam, an intern who we made friends with at New Life in the past, as well as some of our Haitian friends.
We ended the night with our daily team meeting, and the silence proved that the lack of sleep, an unusual food schedule, constant sweating from the sun and the heat had us beat! But we are excited for what the rest of our trips holds for us, and we are thankful for every person who has supported us so that we can be here. Mom, I promise that Emily, Patrick, and I are applying sunscreen religiously. Mrs. Keefer, Courtney has a bottle of Deet close by her at all times. And I promise that our team will do our best to blog daily to keep our friends and family updated on our adventures here on our Haitian vacation!
Until next time,