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Now that airports are open once again in Haiti, following the assassination of the country’s president, two pilots and a flight attendant with Missionary Flights International took off Friday morning to bring 22 missionaries back home to the U.S.
“We are really here to fill that gap and help these people transport them back and forth,” Joe Karabensh, pilot and president at MFI said.
An additional 60 missionaries are still in Haiti and want to make it back, but due to MFO plane capacity, more trips will need to be made through the next two weeks.
“This trip is different because you’re just standing by and waiting for gods leading for when you can go back with the situation,” said Cyndy Hazlewood, flight attendant at MFI.
Karabensh told WPBF 25 News he doesn’t have any concerns and said MFI is taking precautions and leading the flight by faith.
“We do have personnel on the ground that can communicate with us if there is something that flares up,” said Karabensh. “We’re not actually going to Port-au-Prince, we’re going to the north part of Haiti, and then we will be picking up the people in a grass runway in the middle of the country. And then, we are getting back to the international airport in the North called Cap-Haitien in the night, fueling up and then coming back here.”
WPBF 25 News was told another flight is expected to head out as soon as Monday.
Video below: Previous coverage of MFI before the flight was scheduled to take off by WPBF 25 News Reporter Angela Rozzier
“What do we do now?” is what George Rankin said. Rankin is a missionary from Iowa who was trying to get into Haiti with his church youth group. He and 10 other missionaries flew into Fort Pierce Wednesday to board a plane bound for Haiti.
Their group was scheduled to go to Haiti to help with food shortages and the need for medical supplies, but told WPBF 25 News Thursday that they have decided to hold off because of safety reasons.
“There’s always been, you know, violence and things happening in the government and the country, but the assassination of a president is huge,” MFI President Joe Karabensh said.
Karabensh is waiting to see what will happen.
“We have actually a list now of over 60 people who need to get out of Haiti, but we can’t get in,” he said. “We’re pretty much just waiting for things to change and praying that we can help our folks down there.”
Rankin and his group are also waiting.
“My first thought was ‘what do we do now,'” he said. “We were in the airplane coming out of Omaha to here and we’d already started our journey.”
For now, they will do some volunteer work at MFI while they wait for the OK to continue their work in Haiti.
“We’re not going to stop,” Rankin said. “When things are [settled and] we can go we will. Our church supports missions and so we are excited about continuing the work that is going on there.”
MFI partners with 600 different organizations that do volunteer work.
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