Livin’ it up in Orlando

People have been asking me for the last week if I was excited for my trip. Truth be told, I was, but there was so much going on and I was feeling pretty stressed out until I actually got on the plane this morning.

This is how the week looked for me…
  • Monday Chris and I went to Port to get Daisy. That ate up most of the day. What wasn’t chewed up and spit back out by Port au Prince was consumed with helping the dog settle in to the mission, and helping the previous members of the Rolling clan, (ahem Jabez and wee one) settle into the idea of having another dog.
  • Tuesday was Manba day. Manba day starts at 7 am for me when I got up and drop off our people at the clinic so they can get started on the sanitation and hygiene education. I go up and have coffee with the Canaanites and Bobi and Josh and I get on the same page for the day. Then we load up the Canaan van and head down to the clinic to see a whole bunch of families. Tuesday saw us discharging several families because they weren’t working the program the right way. That stuff is hard and heavy. Our job is to provide the means and be there every week to weigh the kids and check on them. The parents job is to follow instructions and make sure they’re doing the work at home. We can’t be there to do it for them. When a child is not gaining it tells us that there is something wrong at home, something that only the parents can fix. If they don’t resolve the problem, whether it be them feeding the manba to other family members, not finishing it up in the week or something like that, we have to discharge them from the program. It’s hard because the kids are the ones that will suffer, but we can’t work with people that don’t want to do their part. We did have several great moments in the day where we saw kids that were gaining well and who’s parents were very, very happy. It feels so good to be able to say, “You did a great job!” to the parents. They just totally light up. We have one boy who is about 5-6 years old and who is a major case of Kwash. He started Manba two weeks ago, and in two weeks he is already doing so well. His parents are over the moon as they’re watching their son get healthy.
  • Wednesday I had to go to court in St. Marc to speak with the investigative judge that is working on our case. I was nervous because the interview was going to all be in Creole. It went fine and we just covered the basics. Chris had given them pages and pages of information before. I think I was more of a formality.
  • Thursday. I don’t know what happened to Thursday.
  • Friday was all about packing and getting ready to go.
And now I’m out of Haiti and in Florida. I was feeling stressed about a few things. The biggest thing was that until 8:30 pm last night I had no idea where my passport was. We had given friends all of our documents to get our residency papers renewed, but because of some life stuff the time frame wasn’t long enough, and instead of giving us our stuff back it accidentally got taken in to the office in Port along with another friends passport that needed a visa for travel today. We’ve been trying to get everything figured out for the last week and a half. Thursday someone went in to pick everything up, but for some reason the office didn’t give back my stuff. So someone had to go back yesterday and finally got everything in hand. When I got the phone call last night a huge weight lifted.
I was booked on a flight leaving Haiti at noon, but went in with my friends who were leaving on a 9 am flight. I was able to get bumped onto their flight, and bumped onto a 2:00 pm flight into Orlando instead of having to wait until 7:15.
I was worried about my visa because it was dated to expire on Sept. 3, but this is Haiti and the date is really nothing. It’s good for one exit. Done. When they did the visa the office lost my little departure card. Sigh. I was totally ready to have a long winded conversation about the whole issue, as would be the norm, but when I got to the immigration desk the guy looked at my visa, stamped my passport, filled out another card for me, I signed it and I was on my way in under 3 minutes. There went the other big load of stress.
I wasn’t sure if I would make my connection in Miami, but wasn’t too worried about it because I knew there was a 4:00 flight into Orlando that I could catch if I didn’t make it. I walked into US immigration at about 12:30 pm. I walked out at 1:15 pm. The flight was boarding at 1:30 pm. I went down to baggage claim to find that the luggage from my flight was already unloaded and sitting on the floor. I spent several minutes walking around and not seeing my bag anywhere. No-where. I stood there craning my neck to look at the pile next to the other baggage claim belt, but I had already looked at all of those bags. At that point I think there was an arm flap and me saying, “You have got to be kidding me!” out lout. Then I turned around and the baggage belt that was empty before was no longer empty as my bag came around right beside where I was standing. Did I mention that there had been nothing on it a minute before. I grabbed my bag and headed for the exit.
Usually we get our bags scanned just because we’re coming from Haiti. Truth be told, there was nothing in my bags. Well, one bottle of rum for a friend in Canada. Other than that though, absolutely nothing. I headed for the doors and saw the hugest line I have ever seen there. Actually, it was more of an organized mob. But it started moving and what I thought would take half an hour took five minutes. I was prepared for the scan line, but the agent flagged me through. At that point it was about 1:25 pm and I had decided I was going to head for the American Airlines desk so I could get rebooked.
As I walked out the door to where you recheck your bags I almost walked right into an airport worker who yelled, “Orlando follow the yellow dots!” I checked and it was my flight. So I followed the dots and dropped my bags. I went up, found my concourse and saw there was no one in the security check line. I was through in about 3 minutes. I shuttled to the next terminal and walked up to my gate in a matter of about 10 minutes. I checked in at the gate and was told I was on standby. They were about halfway through boarding. I had just enough time to grab and consume a hotdog. They called my name, gave me my boarding pass and I was on the plane, and the plane was taxiing at exactly 2:00 pm.
I got into Orlando and my bag came out. I was planning on taking a cab to the hotel, but saw signs posted for ground transport info that said I could get a shuttle for half the price. I like saving money so I was pretty happy about that one. Really, who wants to pay $40 for cab fare??? I got to the hotel and had my room key within minutes of walking in the door. Darren is at a wedding today but he left out all the goodies sent from home. It was fun going through everything and feeling loved.
Now I’m hanging out in a hotel room with squishy beds and a tv. In Florida. Not Haiti. Did I mention I’m not in Haiti?
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About Leslie

I'm Leslie. Wife. Mother. Missionary. In the day to day my husband and I are responsible for running Clean Water for Haiti, a humanitarian mission that builds and distributes water filters to Haitian families. Living in Haiti full time provides lots of stories, and as I tell my husband, our grandkids probably won't believe most of them. Maybe writing them down will give me some credibility.

2 thoughts on “Livin’ it up in Orlando

  1. Wow, I love it when I have stressful day and the doors just open up. So glad you had one of those…you do deserve some rest and I know God had his angels there opening every door along the way. I'm glad you are still posting from FL….I've become so hooked on reading your stories….you crack me up many days. Enjoy the trip and the brotherly love!

    G.S.

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