Local missionary caught up in Haitian riots

Local missionary caught up in Haitian riots

Riots in Haiti over an uptick in gas prices have left several people dead.

A Sunnybrook Church missionary who was in Haiti when the riots broke out tells us his experience.

Zach Swanson has been interning with Sunnybrook Church for almost a month now and his trip to Haiti was going to be his first time out doing mission work.

What Swanson was met with in Haiti is something he never could have expected.

On a mission trip to help with an orphanage in Haiti, Zach Swanson and 13 other members of Sunnybrook Church we're doing their part to help get children registered for school.

Their seven day trip got extended after terrible riots started to break out late Friday afternoon.

"When Brazil lost to Belgium that really set people off on edge and then it was announced over the radio around that same time that gas was going to be hiked up to 38% diesel to 51%. And from there riots broke out all throughout Haiti primarily in Port-Au-Prince," said Swanson.

With Port-Au-Prince harboring the only airport in and out of Haiti, getting the missionaries out of Haiti safely was a whole new challenge the team wasn't ready for.

Swanson said, "There was too many fires, too many roadblocks, groups of locals who were rioting and potentially violent and so the team leader made the call we were going to stay back."

Monday morning the team was able to fly out of Haiti with assistance from armed guards who escorted them.

Swanson says what he saw on the 35 minute trip to the airport is something he'll never forget.

He said, "There were semi trucks that the windows were just smashed in, the metal siding was bent and the wheels were all punched through with glass. And it was really quite the experience."

Considering this was Swanson's first experience with missionary work, you could understand if he were not open to giving this type of work another go, but that just isn't the case.

"Whether it's Haiti or not, we all feel we need to go and continue to do the work of the ministry overseas because there's such a need. And when you see the need it certainly changes you," said Swanson.

After the interview I always ask each person I talk with if they have anything else they'd like to say, right on cue, Swanson said with a big smile, I am so thankful to be back.

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