National News

Church group on Haiti mission trip told to shelter in place

Posted July 9, 2018 4:59 p.m. EDT

— After days of violent protests, the U.S. Embassy in Haiti is warning U.S. citizens to shelter in place wherever they are.

A group from Middle Tennessee on a church sponsored mission is safe. They are about an hour north of Port-Au-Prince where the unrest is taking place.

Right now, they are in a holding pattern until they are given the all clear.

Jay Simmons is one of the 17 mission trip team members in Haiti from Providence United Methodist Church.

The team is about 40 miles north of all the protests.

"I wanted all my friends to know that I'm okay. I am literally on the roof of a building right now, so that I can get cell service," said Simmons. "We are not feeling threatened we're in a very safe area. Don't let the news scare you that's coming out of Port-Au-Prince because it's not near us. And we won't go to Port-Au-Prince to fly out until it is safe."

Dan Lins is director of operations at Providence United Methodist Church. He says the team members have been in Haiti for the last week, helping build a school.

"There's been some blockades around where their hotel is," said Lins.

We spoke to the embassy on Sunday, and the embassy said to stay right where they are. That's the safest place for them to be.

"Our team is staying calm, they're staying confident. They have felt a lot of the prayers and support from the folks here at Providence Church, but also all across Nashville and Middle Tennessee. And really, that's what's keeping them going."

The team was supposed to come back Saturday, but won't be back until the dust settles.

Lins says for now, they are hopeful the team will return to Middle Tennessee by Wednesday or Thursday of this week.