Monday, July 09, 2007

"She comes with a lot of Baggage"

1st attempt:
You've heard this saying said before and it's not a real good thing to hear about someone...however, while in Haiti I was wishing someone could say it about me!!!
When we got to Haiti our team was all together. There was 13 of us and we all flew in on the same flight. At the end of luggage delivery our team was short 10 suitcases, and Debbie and I had received NONE of our 4! Then we spent what must have been hours in line taking turns giving our information regarding our missing baggage. They gave us a slip of paper with our baggage claim stickers on it and told us all to come back and try again tomorrow. So, some of us left with nothing but our carry on's and by the time we got to the orphanage we had very little time to greet our children because we were already late for the kindergarten graduation and then those of us that had our children staying with us loaded up in the tap tap right after graduation and headed to the guest house before dark. It was pretty frustrating to not get to spend time with all the kids at HFC and NLL because our time was wasted at luggage claims. That night when we informed Dr. Bernard what happened he asked me to go around and collect all the baggage claims from everyone. I went first to our room to get Debbies and mine. Debbie found hers but I went into panic mode because mine was no where to be found! I dumped out and sorted through everything in my purse and two carry on's and it was nowhere! Trying to retrace my steps I remembered that when we left the baggage claim I somehow ended up with the loaded up cart of everyone's carry on's. I was not expecting to push it and my neck and back were really hurting from the travel. I had been passing out beef jerky to those of us waiting so the rest of the team was rushing towards the door and I was fumbling with my baggage claim paper, the jerky bag, my camera, and trying to push the cart to keep us with the rest of the team who had no baggage and was walking quickly ahead of me. Once outside I was swarmed with the porters and was having trouble pushing the cart and holding onto everything else in my hands and trying to keep up with my team. So looking back on it I think there is a good chance that during that chaos is when I may have dropped my baggage ticket because I don't recall seeing it again after that point. This had me feeling VERY stressed because the woman at the counter told me anyone could pick up the bags as long as they brought in the claims. So, if someone found it in the parking lot they could go in and take my luggage...no questions asked... the TV and gifts to our kids...all gone!

Second attempt:

The next morning was Sunday and we had first heard that those of us missing our luggage would return to the airport so I did not dress for church and then found out last minute that we WERE going to church first so I had to run back up and quickly change into church clothes. I was even more nervous about going to the airport so late because that gave anyone that found my claim even more time to take my luggage... but off to church we went for the 3 hour service (it was a great experience I'll share about it later) and then we went back to the guest house to change and then we were finally taken to the airport. Once there I found we ran into a whole other mess. We had all assumed that I could use my passport ID to claim my bags (assuming they were not given to someone else). When we got to the door to go to claim our bags security would not allow me to go with the other gals because I didn't have a ticket I tried explaining to him that I lost it but if I could just go to the counter (right behind him) they would have my information. He was having none of that. I continued to argue with him until Kim grabbed my arm and told the security guy "okay, okay, we are going" and dragged me out of there right before I could give in to the temptation of kicking him in the shins (I make a great missionary don't I?) Kim told me about being there with a friend who argued with a security guard and almost ended up in jail and she said she could tell I had pushed him way too far. Thanks for saving me from myself Kim! I learned Haitian men don't take kindly to being questioned, especially by an American WOMAN! I passed off my passport to one of the team members that was able to get in to see if they could do anything about it. My friend Debbie was with them and helped them all look through the luggage and they actually found the suitcase with the TV!!! They were somehow able to take it and get out the door with it without being questioned. I was praising God when I saw it!!! They said the rest of everyone's luggage was in a cargo building. We all climbed into the taptap and drove a ways away to the cargo building. After all of us searching in there we learned that everyone had found their luggage. The ONLY suitcases not there were the ones I packed- One in my name, and two in Debbies (Debbie let me check in two suitcases in her name). Now we not only didn't have our suitcase but we had an even bigger problem... The claims desk told Debbie her luggage would be in the cargo and KEPT her claim ticket!!! Now neither of us had what we needed to get back inside the airport to claim any of the other luggage. We had no idea what we would do!!!! Afterwards we headed to the orphanage for another very short time with the kids since we had to leave everyday before dark and most of our day was already spent.

Third attempt:

Monday: The plan was for the driver to take the team and drop them off at the Orphanage so they could spend time with the kids. Then he would take Debbie and I to the airport to get our luggage, so we were all surprised when the driver took us instead all to the airport! We felt bad that the rest of the team had to wait in the back of the tap tap and take that long ride with us for no reason when they could have been with the kids. We had NO idea at all how we were going to manage getting inside the airport with us both not having our baggage claims! We just prayed all the way to the front door where we saw a very nice porter that had helped us when we arrived (sometimes it helps to be very kind and tip big to the porter's, you might need them later on). We told him outside of the airport what was going on and he said "You come with me". Just before following him through the airport door I prayed that God would make us invisible to the guards and sure enough they didn't even notice us as we slipped in behind our Porter! Later Debbie said it was as if we were invisible and I smiled and told her what I had prayed. Then we got to a second set of security! This time we were so grateful to have the porter do the talking for us, but it looked as if they were not going to allow us in after all. I started to really pray and ask God to send SOMEONE to help. Right after praying that two men that worked at the airport came by and asked what the problem was. Now the two security guards had our porter and two airline employees arguing with them to just let us in to look for our bags... and they finally gave in. Praising God! After all of that we searched through all the bags and felt deflated when they were not there! Now what?? At least we could get to the baggage claim counter to plead for help so we got in the long line and began our wait. While standing in line I turned around and saw a stranger standing behind me. I knew I had never met her but her face was so familiar. Finally it all clicked and I said "Are you by any chance Barbara?" She looked surprised that I knew her and answered she was. I was so excited that I threw my arms around her in a hug and said how happy I was to get to meet her! She must have thought I was a lunatic but treated me nicely anyways. I had seen her picture on a friends blog and she runs the orphanage Reach out Haiti and I had heard such wonderful things about the work she does. So in line I got to meet her (how cool is that?) and we chatted about our mutual friend. It was a very cool uplift when I really needed one. We finally got to the counter where the very unfriendly employee took a very long time looking up our info and hand wrote us a baggage claim she said we could use to get back into the airport. We were at least relieved for that. Then she told us that only two more bags had arrived and we would have to go claim them in the cargo building. My heart sank again because this meant yet another really long ride for everyone in the hot dusty tap tap to find the one last one another day! Then she decided to give me more bad news... While our luggage was in the cargo building we could not get it because they closed at 4. I asked her what time it was and she said 4:10 and I just wanted to scream. After I pressed her a bit she did admit that if we rushed over there they just might let us in if they have not already left. We got out of the airport as quickly as we could and found our driver and asked him to please hurry and rush us to the cargo building to try and get our suitcases.

Cargo Office:

We are now really late getting to the cargo office (it was around 4:30). I was so relieved when Debbie pulled open the front door and it actually opened but we were soon to learn that didn't mean much. Fortunately for us it was a woman behind the counter but she kept insisting we were way to late. We begged and begged her for help telling her all we had gone through to get there. Finally we felt great relief when she agreed to page the warehouse to see if they would let us in. She tried again and again while we stood at the counter praying. Each time she would hang up after no one answered her page I felt fearful that she would say "Sorry, I tried" and give up but we kept praying and I couldn't believe how many times she kept dialing! When she didn't get anyone to answer she told us to wait there and she would try to find someone. She was gone a long time and we were pretty sure we were not getting in! We just kept praying. It was with huge relief that she came back and said "Go around to the warehouse door they are waiting for you." We ran to the door and were met by a security guard and two employees that were definitely not happy to see us. They kept commenting on how late we were and giving us glares, obviously very put out that we were there. We searched for our two bags while they glared at us and made comments. We found the two pretty quickly at least but then I had the thought that we were already in there and they were already mad so I may as well keep looking for the third missing suitcase real quick in case it just didn't show up in the system and sure enough minutes later I shouted to Debbie with joy as I lifted the last suitcase off the shelf! One of the employees said to me "You better thank Jesus." I laughed and said "Believe me I am!" We didn't need to come back and go through this all again!!! We tipped the employees generously and all the sudden they were as happy for us as they could be! :) A few days, lots of stress, and $95 in tips (okay, some bribes) we had our luggage!!!!! Thank you God! On a sad note: because the driver did not take the group to the orphanage FIRST and drop them off as planned our entire team had to head back with out going to the orphanage at all that day. I felt so very bad and I'm sure they were all disappointed also, but were so kind to us about it!
So now I have a lot of "baggage" about baggage! I know in sharing this that you will see my attitude is not always what it should be, but it is the truth about my feelings and frustrations.

6 comments:

Ericka said...

Wow!!! I'm WIPED OUT just reading this. Wow. Not fun on any level. Wow.
I think I need to start an airline to Haiti!! :)
The kindergarten pictures were priceless tho :)
Please tell us more about Louvenie!!!!!! Does Jacques just dote on her when he's around???
How's Vilner doing with mom?
I know you have so much on your plate (and mind), sorry to be so bossy!!!
Hugs,
Me

Angela said...

Hi Ericka,

Don't you just wish you were there? :) Seriously though... most of the trip was wonderful and I already want to go back!!

I promise to share lots more about the kids and trip soon. I did not get to see Vilner and his Mom on this trip. I have no idea how they are. Hopefully well. I talked about them with Dr. Bernard while there and shared with him that after talking to the birth Mom that as Motherly instincts I really think she is going to back out and keep him (and I would not be hurt but happy for her), but Dr. Bernard feels very strongly that he is certain she wants us and only us to adopt him... so we will see in time who is right. I'll keep you posted if I hear anymore about him. Jacques dotes on every child, but yes, especailly Lovenie. I really think him and our 4 year old Luke will hit it off so well! :)

Sarah said...

Angela,
What a nightmare! How scary for you to have to deal with all of this; especially with the language barrier! I am so glad everything turned out ok in the end!
Sarah from Michigan

ManyBlessings said...

Oh my!
..
O

d:)

Angela said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angela said...

For anyone that read my post before I editted it I apolgize for some of the unnecessary venting that was inappropriate. I've realized how unnecessarey mentioning certain things were and removed them. I've asked God for forgiveness for what I shared that I should not have and hope that anyone reading it will forgive me as well. Sometimes when venting a frustration it is easy to say things that should not be said, but that is no excuse and I have deleted any lines I felt were inappropriate. Thanks for remembering I'm human and for forgiveness. Much love, Angela

PS- Somethings amiss with blogger lately. I have editted the post but it has not changed, so if reading my apology is confusing because it has not been editted.. it will show up soon. Sorry!