Mission trip travel prolonged by Trump protesters

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Traveling to Sonlight Academy in Port-De-Paix Haiti has become a common mission trip for members of the Rising Sun Church of Christ.

On Thursday, January 12th, a group of nine traveled to the Northwest Haiti town with hopes of erecting an overhead cross walk for Sonlight Academy.

The first story of any trip is the travel.

In the past, the return to the U.S. has shown such news stories as the Columbia shuttle exploding in 2003, tornadoes in Missouri and Oklahoma and even the death of Whitney Houston.

This year was no different as the team returned on Saturday, January 21st- the day after the inauguration speech of President Donald Trump.

While there were some problems that day, it was not as bad as this past week after Trump signed an executive order on limiting immigrants. Trump’s beginning as the 45th POTUS did delay the group’s return.

Protesters at Miami International Airport and those blocking the freeways to the airport delayed the flight to Port-Au-Prince which resulted in a two hour departure delay. As a result, the group was unable to meet its connecting flight that would have arrived in Cincinnati around midnight.

Instead, the nine had to spend the night in Miami. They arrived home at noon on Sunday, January 22nd after a stop in Charlotte, NC.

Although the connection was missed, it wasn’t because of lack of effort by airport personnel. A Haitian worker got the group through customs and, after picking up luggage, a porter raced everyone to the connecting flight area but it was too late. From there it was to re-booking only to find that American Airlines had re-booked the return for 6:15 Sunday morning.

It took an hour to check in luggage and get vouchers for three meals and hotel. Less than a half hour later the shuttle arrived for the closest Holiday Inn.

The travel experience began with a flight from Cincinnati (CVG) to Miami then an overnight stay before heading to Haiti.

Once required to take a six to eight hour bus ride, now charter flights were set up to fly from the capital in southern Haiti to northwest Haiti.

Originally planning to spend the night in Port-Au-Prince, travel plans changed as two charter flights were booked to leave an hour after arriving in Haiti, That required weighing in all luggage including carry ons, personal items and people before leaving the church on Thursday.

The two five passenger planes hold just 950 pounds. That meant the first group of five (Tim Adams, Kenny Ashcraft, Matt Lieland, Tim and Mary Pfennig) would go first weighing in at 940 pounds.

Flight two included Charlene Fancher with daughters Karen Lovern and Gail Sams with check ins and carry ons as two seats were purchased and taken out. That left Tim Hillman, his 210 pounds, 50 pound check in, 40 pound carry on and 15 pound backpack behind to spend the night and bring up any leftover luggage.

That changed when the first charter pilot wrote the weight down as 840 instead of 940. The first group took all its carry ons and personal items.

Flying into the PDP airport requires runway workers to make sure all people, animals and vehicles are out of the way.

On Saturday morning, there were two flights that landed…in the rain. The runway was clear for the first plane but people didn’t think a second plane would be coming so soon. That resulted in the second plane pulling up and circling around for another try. Just another experience in Haitian travel.

The trip was a success. The main project was for construction of a walkway above the street connecting Sonlight Academy and a newer SonCenter. The group organized kitchen and storage areas as well as visited classrooms and children they have sponsored.

Look for pictures and story of the work done in next week’s edition.

If interested in finding out more about Sonlight Academy, contact Tim Hillman at 812-438-2963.