Date: Tuesday, 04/26/2016 3:54 PM
It was a very helpless feeling to be standing in the middle of the dirt runway in Port-de-Paix, as I watched the 10-seater MAF plane (that was supposed to be taking me to Port-au-Prince) flying over my head while I waved weakly to the pilot.
MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) is a Christian-based group of pilots who fly mission groups to various places in Haiti. About 3 weeks ago, I had learned from Miss Carmen, the director of Sonlight Schoolin PdPaix, that 3 MAF flights would be coming to PdPaix with groups and then returning to PAPrince emply. For $115, I could get a place on one of the returning empty planes. That certainly sounded better than an 8 hour ride in a vehicle on bad roads.
Earlier this morning, I had confirmed with Miss Carmen that my flight was at 12:15, and that I should arrive at the old Tortugair terminal (by driving down the dirt runway, because the Tortugair building is closed now) at about 11:45. At 11:30, Sr. Joanne and I Ieft the house of Famille Myriam to make the short drive to the "airport." At 11:44, just as we were turning off the main street to drive the 3 blocks to the runway, Miss Carmen's secretary called to say that there had been a schedule change and that the MAF plane was ready to take off---so please hurry.
It is very hard to hurry on any street in PdPaix, but this little street was full of kids and market stands. As we turned onto the runway, I could see the dust in the distance as the MAF plane pulled out of the Tortugair terminal area to taxi to the far end of the runway to take off (in our direction). Again, because of the kids, goats, potholes, and mud, it was impossible to hurry. After about 100 yards, I asked Sr. Joanne to stop the car (because I could tell that the dust level was increasing, which meant that the plane was beginning its take-off), and I jumped out to begin to wave---as the plane flew about 20 feet over my head. As I said--a very helpless feeling.
We drove on to the Tortugair terminal, where we were greeted by the former Tortugair manager and the young deaf man who used to handled the luggage. We were all happy to see each other, but I was not so happy when he told me that there would be no plane at 12:15. There were 3 Americans (who had just arrived and were on their way to the LaPointe hospital) who told me there had been a big schedule change because of bad weather in PAPrince, and that the 3 scheduled flights had been combined into 1 flight (PdPaix to PAPrince) at 11:30. They, too, said there would be no other flights today.
And now what to do....since I had an American Airlines flight to Miami at 8 AM tomorrow morning, and there was really no way to get to PAPrince today. Sr. Joanne and I looked at each other. Before we could even comprehend how bad the situation was, and before we could even say a little prayer, I heard the sound of the airplane engine. The pilot, Michael, had seen me waving, he had realized that I was his "missing passenger" for the 12:15 flight, and he had turned the plane around to land again (with children, dogs, donkeys, goats, motorcycles, and soccer games on the runway) to come back for me.
When Michael got out of the plane and handed me the clipboard to sign in, I kissed him 3 times. The deaf baggage handler loaded my 2 suitcases, I shook hands with the former Tortugair agent, and I hugged Sr. Joanne as the dust swirled around us. I was still in a daze for the 35 minute ride to PAPrince.
I am now resting at Matthew 25 House. I am hoping that the 8 AM flight to Miamitomorrow will be uneventful. My friend Susan Askins has said that she has heard that my guardian angel has been asking for a transfer.
Thank you Lord for taking care of the weak and helpless, and for MAF pilots who sacrifice for others.