26 December 2011

A late Christmas present for Celine

I am sitting in the hangar office on December 26th. We're supposed to be closed. This stuffy tin box of an office has the six AM sun on its pieced wooden walls.

A store on Delmas, still decorated

David just called me on the HF radio to say that he left the wheelchair out front. I said, "copy that" because it sounded right...and cool. Earlier, I kicked the chocks out, and I felt useful...and cool. Earlier, I manifested three passengers, weighing them, making small talk about Christmas.

We're supposed to be closed today...but here I am, for a boy named Celine. You never realize how great electricity is, you know. If he'd had electricity, maybe he wouldn't have tried to light the fire with kerosene. That's not so bad. I've done it. You just use a little. But Celine mistook the gasoline for kerosene...and now, he probably shouldn't be alive. But he is. 

When I first approached the pilots about someone to do this flight, I expected to meet resistance. But I didn't. No one said, "we're supposed to be closed." No one said, "that's a holiday." They all said, "Make it happen; if you need my help, let me know." I had told Jim we were closed...but he didn't back down. (That's a theme in my job, by the way...people not backing down.) I suggested he try one of the other private operators--he said, "I don't trust anybody but you guys." I suggested he drive him down--he said, "He won't make it that way." His voice was somber, serious. I didn't know then how much time Jim had spent with Celine, but I know now what an advocate he's been for him. And with his help and donated airline miles and miles of paperwork and a generous Shriner's hospital in Boston, Celine is going to get the help he needs.

"FLY landing Pignon!" David yells into the HF radio. "FLY landing!" I yell back, recording the time. It's 7:20. Celine's international flight leaves at 10:30. And an MAF flight was the last piece of the puzzle. How could I say no?

When they landed, Jim picked up Celine and put him into the wheelchair...even at twelve years old, he was so slight that it wasn't hard. As I wheeled him into the terminal, I felt guilty. I wanted to take a picture of him for the blog, but I couldn't. I had my camera in hand, but I couldn't. His hands said it all--one looked as it should, brown-skinned with normal kid scratches and hangnails, while the other had clearly been engulfed in the flames, its skin white and puckered, its nails black or missing. Even in the sparse airport, people gathered around him to stare. (Americans would stare from a distance, pretending not to. Haitians don't have such inhibitions.) Jim shooed them away and by then, their ride had arrived to take them to the international terminal. His mom had the sweetest, gentlest smile, and I told her "bon voyage" and I'd be praying for her.

Please be praying for this kid and his family. You can find more updates about his trip here: www.helpceline.org

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the inspiration, Christine... can't wait to join you guys in ministry down there!