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Haitian unrest delays Wilson County mission teams’ return home

Matt Masters • Jul 9, 2018 at 6:14 PM

A mission team of 17-18 people with Providence United Methodist Church in Mt. Juliet plans to stay in Haiti for a few extra days after their scheduled flight Sunday was cancelled due to violent protests that erupted last weekend in the capitol Port-au-Prince and the northern city of Cap-Haitien.

Another mission team affiliated with the nonprofit My Life Speaks, out of Nashville and the Glade Church in the Gladeville community arrived safely at the airport in Port-au-Prince Monday morning and planned to return home sometime Monday, according to a Facebook post by My Life Speaks. The My Life Speaks’ mission team held in place in the rural village of Neply, where they stayed safely away from the turmoil that took place in the cities. Neply is 180 miles south of Cap-Haitien. 

Dan Lins, director of operations at Providence United Methodist Church in Mt. Juliet, said the church’s mission team is safe in Lanzac, Haiti, about 40 miles north of Port-au-Prince. The team worked to help build a school in Lanzac, which experienced some demonstrations, but nothing compared to those in the capitol.

Significant protests broke out Friday as the Hatian government announced a sharp increase in gasoline prices. As demonstrations and violence rocked the struggling nation, many missionary groups were stranded, with the U.S. embassy warning its citizens to shelter in place. On Saturday, Haitian Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant announced a temporary halt to rising gas prices in an attempt to calm the public outcry.

“We have a plan in place; they’re waiting to board some helicopters that will take them to the Port-au-Prince airport, where they’re scheduled to take a chartered plane flight to Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic and then hopefully, no later than Wednesday, they’ll be on a direct flight back to Nashville,” Lins said.

“We love Haiti – we’ve been in partnership with a nonprofit there called Grace and Glory for several years, and our church is heavily invested in the school that they have been building over the last week, so certainly this past week was a wonderful time when they were there working with the children. They’ve repeatedly told me that they’re in good spirits, that they feel the prayers and the support from people all around Nashville and Middle Tennessee.”

Even with the social and economic turmoil that’s enveloped Haiti’s capitol city, the mission team has continued to have a positive outlook and kept in mind why they help the people of Haiti.

“They’ve looked at these few extra days in Haiti – unplanned, of course – to continue to love and support the people of Haiti,” Lins said, “while waiting to return as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

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