Our departure time moved up from 9:45 to 9:30 and then to 9:00 as the morning progressed. We actually got away by 9:06. Pretty good for a crew of almost 30. Alex had taken Jeremy an hour earlier in his car so they had arranged for a hotel shuttle van to take some of our crew. As we made it to the main road in Grand Goave we were flagged down by several motorcyclists to let us know that one of our back tires was flat. Good thing we were leaving in time to arrive at the airport 3 hours before our flight was to take off. We pulled onto the main road and then off again a little way up the road to get the tire checked. In the meantime the little van passed us only to pull over and wait at a real filling station just up the road (see Last Day in the Village for a reminder of the difference between filling stations and gas stations). Now, with both vehicles on the road we were comfortably riding toward Port-Au-Prince, never mind the slower speeds causing less moving air and more interesting smells to invade our nostrils.
Saturday is market day so we had to pass through a couple of markets on our journey. At some point the little van passed the bus and got on down the road. As we neared PAP there was some kind of license check. We had no problem getting through, but we noticed the van on the side of the road with no driver. I never got the full story on that. Entering PAP the traffic was very, very thick and we had another market to navigate, which involved a lot of shifting of the gears. Have I mentioned that this stick-shift bus used to be an automatic? Well, it did. And today, not once but twice the gear shift came off! I have been amazed all week at the ingenuity of the Haitians we have had the privilege of working with.
All in all we made it to the airport safely, the little van arrived only a few minutes after the bus and we were escorted to the entrance door. Unfortunately, this was as far as Diddy and Junior could go so we said our good-byes outside the airport and went to check in. With only minor, typical airport issues we made it to the gate with a couple of hours to kill before boarding.
A few of us visited the snack bar on the plane side of the security and settled in for the wait. Eventually, most of the group discovered the duty-free shops and/or the restaurant upstairs. I was able to get a couple of small gifts for my girls, a small pizza for lunch, and a cold Sprite before boarding the plane. Our flight to Atlanta afforded the team more time for resting, final conversations, and the first cup of ice in a week. We landed in Atlanta and breezed through security, customs, and immigration. We said our good-byes to the Rome folks and Kansas folks and headed to our flight. Jeff, Milton, and I had a quick snack supper at Chick-Fil-A before boarding to Augusta and thus ending a great week of hard work, good ministry, and great fellowship. Thank you, Harold and CBF Heartland for letting FBC Augusta tag along! We look forward to more opportunities of continued ministry.