Port Au Prince, HAITI - Karla Albert has been making an annual summer trip to Haiti for decades. On her first visit, she fell in love with the people. Then, she adopted two little Haitian girls, who are now adults. She says, "I just felt like it was meant to be. That's all I can tell you. It was meant to be."
These days, she visits Haiti each summer with a small group from Bidwell Presbyterian Church. They pack as many presents and essentials as they can, and hand them out to orphaned children. She says their visits mean a lot to the children, and to them. "We just wanted to bring some joy and some normalcy. They were pretty traumatized after the earthquake," she says of the 2010 quake that killed more than 100,000 people, and injured thousands more.
The group left on June 28, and everything went as planned. They played, danced, and hugged as many orphans as possible. They even took a group of disabled children to the beach, which produced smiles for miles.
Then, last Friday, the government announced it would be raising fuel prices up to 50%. Violent protests erupted in the streets. People across the country began dragging debris into the streets and setting fires. Albert's group had to travel carefully, avoiding roadblocks, and finding different places to seek refuge. "We were weaving around the barricades. We were just stunned by the things that people had put in the road-boulders, huge tin buildings, trees and tires...then all of the sudden, we came across a blockade that was being rebuilt, and our hearts stopped. And that's when we thought 'oh boy,' and we began to pray."
Thanks to a guide who was with them, they were able to find a church where they could stay the night. Then they made their way to the airport in Port Au Prince, and after several hours, an American Airlines plane landed, they got on it, and were flown to Miami.
Albert says missionary trips to Haiti have changed her life. She encourages anyone to join her group, and says they welcome everyone, with or without a church affiliation. To get involved, call Bidwell Presbyterian Church at (530) 343-1484.
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