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Longing for Haiti

Story by Natalie Holsten — Lament by Angie Sutton

A Lament for a Broken Land

The sound of gunshots was getting closer. Safety protocols had to be followed, and the difficult decision was made. It was time to evacuate out of Haiti.

Sitting in her living room and discussing the situation, MAF missionary Angie Sutton felt unsettled. She didn’t want to leave the home and people she loved. She knew there were dangers, but still it was unthinkable that they would leave … again.

With thoughts like these swirling in her head, Angie left the discussion and sat down at her piano. As she began to play and sing worship songs to the Lord, a sense of peace came over her. And not only her, but her four young daughters, as well, as they all were experiencing the turmoil of a country in crisis.

Angie and her family at their temporary home in Idaho. Photo by Lemuel Malabuyo.

Months later, she would write a lament for Haiti, capturing her deep feelings for her beloved adopted home.

“How long O Lord, will You let Haiti spiral down out of
control? While the gangs run rampant and do
whatever they want—looting businesses, terrorizing
the streets, kidnapping, and killing the innocent. The
children of this nation are forced to witness the
violence day after day, living in fear and such trauma.”

Angie and her husband, Andrew, and their daughters were among the MAF families that evacuated Haiti in 2021, then again in fall of 2022, due to increasing insecurity and instability.

While her husband continued to do rotations of three weeks in Haiti, and two weeks in the U.S. along with other pilots, mechanics, and support staff, Angie cared for her girls in their home base of New York.

She struggled with the disappointment of watching her husband continue to have an active part in the ministry, while she waited at home, at times fraught with worry over his safety, and deeply concerned for their Haitian friends.

“Lord, the country is in so much need and utter despair.
The people are exhausted and weary.
They are tired of all the suffering.
Bitterness is their portion.
There is a massive sense of hopelessness.
Wave after wave of destruction, devastation, and loss.
Earthquakes, flooding, hurricanes, hunger, famine, no
government to lead the people, gang wars, so much
bloodshed, such violence day after day.
There is no justice.”

In January of this year, the entire U.S.-based Haiti team gathered for a family conference in Florida. It was a time to reconnect, debrief, and process the traumatic events and grief they had collectively and individually experienced.

The Sutton family with HH-VAN, one of the MAF airplanes that flies in Haiti, which is also temporarily based in Nampa, Idaho. Photo by Lemuel Malabuyo.

Afterwards, the decision was made to cease all flight operations in Haiti as of April 1.

Angie struggled with feelings of guilt—as if they were abandoning the missionaries and organizations in Haiti that depended on their flights to carry out their work.

“Lord, when will it end? I know You’re not unaware,
but it seems that You have forgotten them.
Have You abandoned them? Do You see their pain?
Won’t You step in? Lord, would You intervene in a
mighty and powerful way?”

But during church service in New York, a former missionary got up and shared a word from the Lord. She had an image of a person carrying a backpack of heavy rocks. She said, “The Lord is telling you, ‘Take them out, let them go. That’s not your burden to carry. Let me hold those for you.’”

Weeping, Angie knew those words were for her, a reassurance that God had not abandoned those left behind in Haiti.

“You are all-powerful, You are able.
Would you move in big ways? You parted the Red Sea
for Your people, You sent manna from heaven. You
are able to do what we can’t even fathom.
You are a wonder-working God.
Strengthen and restore Your people. Protect the
children. Provide for their needs: their physical,
emotional, and spiritual needs.
You intricately and intimately know each of them.
You are Jehovah Jireh—we trust You.”

In late spring, most of the Haiti families relocated to Idaho, where they are currently living in apartments on MAF’s campus. Together in community, they are working on a plan for the future of the Haiti program. Angie said as a team they have described this time of waiting and planning as a “wilderness”—like the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years.

Part of the process for Angie has been to go freely to the Lord, through the medium of lament, with her questions and cries. She longs to return to the home they left behind. Physically she and the rest of the team are in Idaho, but their hearts are in Haiti.

“And yet, EVEN if nothing changes in Haiti, we will
continue to praise You. We will worship You because
You are faithful and good. You are the same God of
Jacob, of Abraham, Moses, and David. We remember
Your faithfulness to them and are trusting in You now
with our fellow brothers and sisters in Haiti. Even
when we don’t see You working, we will trust You and
Your sovereign plan. Increase our faith. Help us in our
unbelief. May we cling to You and Your promises.
We love you, Lord.”

During a recent chapel service at MAF headquarters, the Haiti team shared about God’s faithfulness, through song—with Angie at the piano—and through testimony. In the midst of the uncertainty, they are trusting God’s timing and leading.

The Haiti team gathered in the Family Center at MAF headquarters in Nampa, Idaho. Photo by Anna Pederson.

This story ran in the November (Vol. 4) 2023 issue of FlightWatch. Read the entire issue here:


Persevering in hard places

Just over a week after a devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked southwestern Haiti, MAF pilot Eric Fagerland landed in the town of Jérémie with a load of relief supplies.

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