27. February 2012 01:26
by Brandon Hutchens, NVM Missionary
I intended to post this on January 18th so this is a little overdue but I still wanted to post.
Last Saturday I woke up about 6am to get a driver and the tap tap ready to head into the airport. I walked out to the truck yard and jumped into the tap tap (see picture above) and pulled in around to the team center which I do regularly and really enjoy it because driving big trucks are fun for any guy. After backing it in and letting the team know they could begin loading I walked to the tent where several of our Haitian employees stay throughout the week. I asked several guys “Kote Michele ye” (Where is Michele – one of our main drivers) they all told me that Michele had gone home late the night before and wasn’t back yet. When in Haiti a lot of things happen in Haitian time but airport runs are different we make sure we leave on time! This meant that if I had no drivers I was driving in myself. I had only driven the tap tap once before and that was while the clutch was going out which made for interesting first trip into the airport. I ran back to the tap tap for the sendoff prayer and told everyone to load up I was driving in. So two teams (30+ Americans) jumped in the back and said their goodbyes to campus as we pulled out. I was a little nervous but I knew things would be alright. I started praying for smooth travels and safety and felt very good about things.
After an hour drive I was in the home stretch only ten more minutes. We came to a traffic light that changed red (which rarely causes an immediate change in traffic flow) and I worked my way through the intersecting without stopping. Unfortunately, this day happened to be the day where four Haitian police officers were in the intersection and they blew their whistles and stepped in front of the truck and asked me to pull over. I was hesitant but followed instructions and pulled up on the curb. As soon as I put on the air parking brake I realized in the rush to leave I had forgotten my wallet which had my driver’s license. This is one thing the Haitian Police take very serious -correct registration, insurance, and all driver’s must have a driver’s license. With my best Haitian Kreyol I began to tell the police officers that I had 30 white people in the back that needed to catch a plane and I would have someone bring my license to the police after I dropped the teams off at the airport. They were not as comfortable with that plan as I was and asked for my registration and insurance. After I handed it to them they walked away. Shortly after that a police officer came up that spoke good English and asked for the keys to the tap tap and for me to step out of the vehicle and proceeded to tell be that they were going to arrest me and take me to jail. I refused to give up my keys or leave the vehicle and frantically called Pastor Pierre to see if he could help me. After several attempts I could not get a hold of him and started praying hard while ignoring the officers outside the truck. I finally was able to get a hold of Pastor and he called his detective friend Enoch. Enoch arrived about 10 min later and got me out of the vehicle. He had me show him which officer took the paperwork. Enoch walked up and flashed his badge and immediately they gave us back the paperwork and said I was free to go. I was so relieved and thankful that God answered my frantic prayers!! Pastor Pierre then walked up and asked that I wait in his vehicle as he drove the two teams to the airport while I waited for Adam and Maggie to bring my driver’s license to me. After I had my license and Pastor Pierre returned with the tap tap I drove the empty tap tap back home to campus. As I walked in the dining hall there were several people laughing and asking me if I had my license and reading my rights as if they were going to arrest me. This is still a running joke on campus today that anytime I leave I have several people (Haitian and Americans) ask me if I have my license on me. Later that day I drove back to the airport to pick up another team in the tap tap without any issues. This is definitely my most interesting driving moment in Haiti since we have been here and has left a lasting impression on me so that I remember daily to carry my wallet as I never know when I will need to jump in a vehicle to head into town.