Church group arrives at RDU from Haiti after civil unrest

Friday, July 13, 2018

MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Eighteen members of White Memorial Presbyterian Church arrived at RDU from Haiti Thursday morning after their mission trip was cut short due to civil unrest in the country.

Their parents greeted them with hugs, a welcome home sign, and donuts.

"We were so happy that they arrived safely and that this ordeal has come to an end," said an emotional Jennifer Brinson as she waited to pick up her son Charlie Queen.

"It wasn't like we were in danger," said Charlie, 16. "We were behind the walls of this resort, but if you look over, you could see all the riots and protests. It was just wild-smoke, burning tires."

The 15 youth and three adults were scheduled to land before midnight, but the group landed closer to 3 a.m. due to flight delays.

The group was stuck in their hotel for much of their trip.

"We just saw smoke in the air and people in the streets," said Margaret Ivy Johnston, 16, of Raleigh.

"I did see some smoke coming from tires burning but other than that, I was never really worried because I knew that we were safe," said Elizabeth Britt,

Her father, Cliff, went as an adult chaperone. He said the unrest started the day after the group arrived.

They were only able to get out of the hotel a few days to spend time with children in Haiti and do construction at a school, youth said.

Yet, despite the ordeal, those who went said they were glad they did.

"Just seeing the joy on the kids' faces when we got to hang out with them and teach them things, that made the whole trip," Elizabeth said.

"I enjoyed every minute of it," said Margaret's twin sister, Martha Luck Johnston, 16. "In the beginning, it was stressful but once we got to do what we intended to do it was very fun and exciting, and I'm very glad that I went."

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White Memorial Presbyterian Church's trip to Haiti
Credit: Margaret Johnston

Gary Fulton, Associate Pastor of the church, said they got the group here earlier out of an abundance of caution.

"We realized they weren't going to be able to do all the mission they wanted to do," Fulton said. "The activities were going to be curtailed, and so we decided it was important to get home. And it relieved the anxiety of the parents."

Two more groups, of 17 people total, are expected to arrive at RDU Thursday afternoon and evening.