09 August 2017

the nightmare that saved us from the real one

The last 48 hours have been anything BUT the boring we prayed for, and honestly I'm not even sure you're going to believe me.

If these days were setting the tone for this year in Haiti, I'm both gonna need more strength and faith, and I can't WAIT to see how God's going to work.
Tuesday morning when we started our journey back to Haiti, everything was FINE, both at Emmaus and with us.  We were off crazy early, Stu got his car and Adam got the carseats at the Philly airport, and we were off.  Long flight to Miami, and to our Haiti gate hours early, waiting for the Edlers and their littles to join us in our Tuesday evening return to Haiti.

They didn't come, didn't come, finally we boarded, and with some sad girlies took off down the runway without them, so sorry for all the stress missing THE flight would bring them.  And tired.  And very ready to be home.

We flew for over 2 hours, and finally the pilot confessed that due to storms, we couldn't land in Cap-Haitian.  Then, he announced that we'd be going to Puerta Plata, in the Dominican Republic, instead.  We hoped and prayed for the best, landed there, all sat on the plane with the door sealed for over an hour, and finally the pilot got on, said that due to storms in Cap (though there weren't even clouds in Puerta Plata, just a few hours from the border) we couldn't land, and we couldn't wait any longer because they aren't allowed to land in Haiti after dark.

Yeah, our runway used to have these beautiful, big solar-powered lights all down it. For about a week after American Airlines put them in.

So due to the entirely unlit runway surrounded by unlit Cap-Haitian, we couldn't land later, and due to storms we couldn't land now. We'd head all the way back to Miami.

Surprisingly, the girls took it better than the other 150 people.  They cried quietly, mostly from exhaustion, missing dinner, bored of the plane and disappointment, the plane quickly went from quiet to chaos.  The only flight attendant who spoke Creole was doing a terrible job translating the captains calm, polite, minimal info messages, adding in lots of her own complaining, patronizing the plane, and "Do you want to die? Because if we try to land like you want us to, we will ALL die, and the airlines will have to call all of your families and children and tell them that YOU. ARE. DEAD." And on, and on, and on.

Within 15 minutes, the plane was in an uproar (our second culture tends to err towards flairs of the dramatic), many people demanding to be let off, and no one being allowed to do so, so much so that the pilot now could not take off until things calmed down.  We prayed quietly with teary, tired children, trying to trust, trying to be sunny.

We've never been so jealous of another missionary family missing their flight home :)

Finally, when the other attendants finally realized the translating wasn't going well and that this plane was MIGHTY small for that many furious people, they took the intercom away, and we headed back to Miami before things got worse.  By the time we finally landed in Miami, it was 9 pm, we'd been on the plane since 2:00, no one had had dinner, we were all exhausted.

But because the plane had landed in a country other than America, though the doors had NEVER opened, we all had to get off the plane...at immigration.  Then customs.  Then baggage claim.  Before ANY details for flights, hotels, etc, were ever discusses.

More anger, and lots of language issues.  Matt was working with large groups of people, trying to explain a rather exhausting and difficult for ALL of us to understand situation, and the girls and I were helping elderly people, traveling alone, who didn't understand a word of English and were SO confused and worried about where to sleep, worried about their bags.
Of course, no one had notified the customs agents that our flight had been returned.  Not being on anyone's radar, all 150 of us were blocked from re-entering America.  For a l-o-n-g time.

Hurry up.  W--a---i---t.  Hurry up.  W--a--i--t.
Finally, it all got semi-sorted, then customs, then baggage claim, then a new "Cap-Haitian" line.  Re-booking each person, vouchers, Subway at 11:00, a shuttle, with the girls on strangers-now-exhausted -acquaintances laps.  Hotel room, all in bed at midnight in our clothes.
Up at 4:40 AM, shuttle doesn't start till 6, so taxi ride at 5, security, same gate.  Same people, same plane, same clothes, same exhausted.  The only foreigners on the flight who lived in Haiti or spoke Creole, by now the girls were buddies with everyone and Matt and I getting to know everyone's stories as translators who somehow managed to keep it together.  God's grace, and a lot of prayers, and His miraculous help with our girls...they were FABULOUS, and when Nora finally couldn't handle it any more the night before, she graciously fell asleep on my shoulder after crying for 20 seconds.

They slept the whole flight this morning.

We landed around 9 and the girls whopped and cheered from the very last row.  That peace that passes all understanding settled in, our journey finally almost finished, finally right where were were supposed to be, more hurrying and waiting and waiting and hurrying.

And Lily turns to me on the runway as we walk the stretch from the plane to the "terminal" and says two wise things.  First, "Whoa! It's like there is water in the air here! I forgot that!" Yes, I said through foggy sunglasses.  No more lip-gloss or lotion required.

And then, "Well, I don't know why, but I bet God has a reason why all that happened yesterday, so it's GOOD, right?"  She shrugged, child-like faith, and scampered off to hear the little band always standing right outside of customs, hoping to make a few gourdes.

On the way home 90 minutes later in that beautiful van with beautiful Ti-Lou at the wheel telling us about the huge storm that took him hours to get to the airport in the night before and home again, all of us stinking and tired and thankful, our friend Shelley called to  say she'd gotten into our house and left some snacks (which ended up being homemade mac-and-and cheese and muffins and cookies!), which blessed my flip-flops off...hungry-again kids in tow and having nothing at the house and no "quick meal's" available.

Before hanging up, she mentioned to Matt that all the power, internet and water had been down at the seminary that morning when her family had been there for Creole lessons.  Having just talked to Maxi the afternoon before and everything working perfectly, we were so confused.  How can it be that the very DAY we come home, the water, power, and internet just breaks!!!???

She assured Matt that Junel called Phil in Jersey, Phil called Kevin in Missouri, Kevin called her husband Steve in Creole class next to the generator house, and Steve had gotten it all back on after a few hours.

It wasn't until we got home and were happily greeted by two live dogs and two live cats (a FIRST, for sure) and then Junel and Magloire and Rene and Leme and finally Maxi, that we got the whole story.

Tuesday night, we were supposed to land around 5:00, be back to the Seminary around 7, 7:30.  Maxi, having the keys to our house, came on campus and was hanging out, waiting for us so he could let us in.  He hung out by the shop at the entrance of the driveway to our house, trying to keep dry, and wanting to be able to let us in as soon as we got home due to the pouring rain.

Instead of opening the house and leaving, he said he waited and waited and waited by the shop, not wanting to walk to the front gate where other's were because of the pouring rain, not wanting to go home before we were back because we'd entrusted him our house.  Sitting by the generator house for warmth and shelter in the cool rain and high winds, he said he waited several hours, not knowing where we were (and us not being able to call).

Finally, as he sat there late at night, because we were so late, because of the rain, he heard a loud POP, and looked in the power house immediately and saw smoke pouring from the inverters.  A moment later, sparks started flying and sizzling, and then fire.  

Immediately, he ran inside and slammed all the switches to off, quickly cutting off all power and stopping the fire as quickly as it started.

When Steve came for Creole lessons this morning, everything was still off. Maxi and Junel had already called Phil, but were struggling greatly with language and phone, not getting anywhere towards fixing it.  Finally, Phil and Steve got in touch, and eventually Kevin, our power technician consultant friend/partner, and Steve got in touch, and over the phone, Kevin only being able to speak English and Steve being the only person there able to speak English, and eventually Steve discovered a series of wires melted and fused to their boxes from the fire, blocking all power.

Steve did whatever Steve-and-Kevin people do...and by the time we got to campus around noon, everything was on and good and fixed and fine.

So if you're still with me, LISTEN.

 If Maxi hadn't been at the Seminary, where he neither lives nor works, in the middle of a huge storm, at night, if it had not been raining, if he had not been waiting for us, if we had already come as planned, we would have had a huge fire last night an hour after getting home...that we never would have seen, that no one would have seen, until far too late.

We would have lost not only tens of thousands of dollars worth of electrical equipment, (and perhaps more) but we would be at home today with not a million frustrating little things behind us, but a million frustrating big things in front of us.  NO power and no way to fix it, no money to fix it with, no equipment in country to replace it with.

We would have had NO water (the pump runs on power).  No internet.  Would have lost everything in all of our fridges and freezers.  No maintenance man.  And not just for a few days. 

We wouldn't have been coming to a shower or a home-cooked meal.  I don't even know if we'd ever of been able to start classes in 2 weeks.  

Maxi and Leme told us over and over, "God must have had you stuck and Maxi waiting and all of us in the places He had us, because Bondje Konne, because God knows."

"Told ya," says Lily simply and sweet, snuggling her kitty.

And suddenly all of the frustration and why me's have been instantly replaced with deep gratefulness.

He knows.  He has the whole story, the whole picture. And He CARES.  I goose-bump to think of the stories of the 150 others we spent the last 24 hours with I'll probably never know, maybe THEY'LL never know, in the hands of a Mighty and loving God.

We thought we were all just back at zero.  But it's NEVER zero, never wasted, never for nothing, when God's involved.

I need Him, we need Him.  And I do NOT always trust Him, we do not always trust Him.

I think I know what would have been best.  I think I know the whole story.  I think I know how much better things would have been if they had gone they way I thought they should have.

Arrogant, small me.  

HE KNOWS.  HE knows.

And sometimes, like with this, we might get a clue.  But I'd argue that 98% of the time we'll never have a hint of how God was at work, how He acted, how He put into place just who, just when, just where.  Like Steve, who doesn't live or work at Emmaus, and Kevin, who doesn't either.

As you're getting up today, dig into deep trust with me.  Pray with me for grace, for our attitudes, for what's DEEP when it matters, that HE and complete and total trust and child-like faith might pour forth from within us, His children.
Our Jersey Aunt Lori always shares with me the same prayer, and it's my prayer today for you and for me.

She always tells me that what she prays is that we will all live-out, flesh-out the deep understanding that God's. GOT. us.  That GREAT love is the only intention of His heart, that great Power is His only response to our fragile selves and lives and worries.  That He can be trusted with all the things we deem good things and bad things, scary things and unfair things.

So I finish the same way I've finished a hundred posts before, praising God that He's got us each RIGHT where He has us, even, even in the STORM.

Do we trust Him?


  1. Amazing and powerful story. God's plan and timing is always the best plan and timing. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Thank you Stacey.... for the reminder, the real life account of storms, working through them by serving others and depending on Him... but also the super natural vision of what and how God is continually and constantly working on our behalf in the big scheme... How clear His vision is compared to our simplistic self loving minds, plans and desires!!
    We need to hear how He is in control, He does have it worked out, and His way is always, no matter the storm, better than ours.... and during these storms, we should Praise Him, Thank Him and deepen our Trust and Faith in His sovereign love and plans!
    Praising Him for loving you enough....

  3. Your writings always penetrate deep within me. Always give me much to think on -my life, my thoughts, my actions and then always back to the Goodness of God in spite of me. Thank you for always sharing your heart and what the Lord is showing you. On another note - what about the Elders? What happened that they did not make it to the airport?

    1. They had their own adventure....having missed our terrible flight, they just got a hotel, got good sleep, slept in, and caught the Wednesday afternoon flight. We're all home and all happy to be back together :)

  4. Praise Jesus! Amazing! (To Kayla, I saw the Edler's earlier flight was delayed)

  5. Wow, wow and wow! Your family are my heros and Sophie's face speaks volumes. Thanks for being an encouragement to us as we "struggle " with our 1st world "problems "!

  6. "Amazing grace! How sweet the sound...Through many dangers, toils and snares,
    I have already come;
    ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
    And grace will lead me home."
    Welcome Home!

  7. Great blog post and really helpful GATE | neet