The exclamation points on the sign barely covering the range of emotions felt when the first group of teens and chaperones from the Kensington Church Haiti mission trip landed at Detroit Metro Airport.
“Excitement, exhaustion, just being excited to be home, but since we have friends down there still, still concern, still prayers,” says Discipleship Director Justin Warns.
The images coming out of Port-Au-Prince Haiti are frightening to see. Explosive protests over the skyrocketing price of gasoline shut down roads and caused flights to be canceled.
Meanwhile, over 100 people from Kensington Church campuses were 45 minutes away partnering with Mission of Hope to serve people in need. They have been sheltering in place at the Mission of Hope compound, which has security teams and secure fencing around the whole complex. They have enough food and water to last for weeks but don’t expect to be there much longer.
The 100 plus short-term mission team members are being divided into smaller groups to get them on flights as many other Americans in Haiti also try to get home.
Kensington Church has a team that plans mission trips but takes it a step further creating a special team trained and prepared to leap into action if the unexpected happens.
“We’re having regular meetings talking about safety, security, we actually have a security expert come in to talk with us as part of that experience, we talk about culture, we walk through logistics,” Warns said, adding that preparation before the trip began was imperative when the protests began.
“That preparation allowed us to step into things quicker and I think speed is really important in a situation like this," Warns said. "Being able to respond as quick as possible and sometimes with limited information."
Part of the mission team is still waiting for flights home. Those who have made it back already have mixed feelings.
“They were elated to be home, but then one of them in the most beautiful way said, 'We make friends with Haitians who deal with this on a regular basis,'” Warns said. “They were asked a question: Would you go back? Her answer was, 'absolutely.'”
Kensington Church has been taking mission teams to Haiti for nearly a decade and plan to continue to serve the people in that country through future trips.
No matter where they travel, Kensington says they connect with the U.S. Embassy before they go so they are aware that they are there.
“We believe by planning that ahead of time, they will have an incredible trip, but if something should happen, we have plans in place to maintain their safety and security throughout the process,” Warns said.