A group of Haitians start assembling outside the gate of the house having their own discussions. They seem to suspect something of this place. This is so frustrating. So many people are trying to help give Haiti legs to stand and though we don’t know exactly what is going on at this place, these people are accomplices in this crime. At the least they are slightly involved and at most they are organizing a ring of theft. In my thoughts, I am trying to remember that no matter what others are doing, it is important that we continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
John McHoul has pulled up in his truck at this point. Everyone is waiting for the pastor and son to return.
Finally they pull back in!
I jump at the question we are all thinking, “Do you have the iPad!”
“No,” they respond.
The younger guy waves us into the courtyard and he gathers the police officer, the judge and me into an area with chairs. We sit as he begins telling us in French,
“I just want to be honest with you. We had an old friend come to us this morning. He needed his iPad charged. We let him in and allowed him to charge it. After it was done charging he went back to his place on Delmas 22. We are trying to get a hold of him now and are asking him to come back here.”
The police officer asks some more specific questions about the time that this occurred to see if it aligns up with our timing of the iPad getting stolen and when we were able to locate the iPad via GPS.
We finish with the discussion and update the rest of the guys. What do we do at this point?
The best option seems to wait this thing out. Currently, we know: (1) The iPad was here (2) These guys are involved (3) They have the contact information for who originally took the iPad.
As we are processing through this with Barry and John, the pastor comes out asking us to please stay inside the courtyard and to not be outside where we are visible. We are all thinking, Ahhhhh! Having the judge, police officer and all of us present is having a negative impact on what he is doing here. John starts playing the good cop/bad cop routine by putting a little pressure on the Koreans. He says we are waiting for more police officers to arrive. We discuss with the police officer if it is possible to have more police come and begin sifting through the bins of equipment.
We pick up some Cokes at the local store for 25 goude a drink (roughly $0.60).
Finally, the younger Korean guy and a Haitian tell us we are going to the house of the guy that originally took the iPad. We all gather up in the van and continue down the back street to the main road. We probably traveled about ½ mile when the younger Korean guy picks up his phone and tells us to turn around. Turning around we head back to the house.
Let me guess what is going to happen next!
We pass into the courtyard and I see sitting down on the bench a very frightened young Haitian girl.
She is holding the iPad in her lap. I ask her for the iPad.
This is incredible, I am in shock, I am holding and looking at the iPad that was stolen about 5 hours earlier. I am actually h-o-l-d-i-n-g the stolen iPad!
I turn it on to make sure it wasn’t swapped out or anything with another iPad. Amazingly, this looks exactly as I left it. Strangely enough, the iPad was still in airplane mode? How were we able to originally locate this device if it was still on airplane mode? I flipped off airplane mode and confirmed with Troy that it was once again traceable.
High fiving Barry, we jump in the van ready to split the scene and call this a success! The judge instead requests that the younger Korean, a few select Haitians and the younger girl get in the van to go down to the police station. He says that they need to file the report. Reluctantly they all enter the van and we drive to the station.
Arriving, I am filled with so many mixed emotions. I am super pumped that we have it back, saddened that these guys are involved in who knows what and a bit worried for the little girl who probably has no idea what is going on. They fill out the paper work starting from a blank piece of white paper. They get my name and information from my driver’s license and Permis des Sejour.
After about an hour, the police officer takes me outside and explains to me that all of them are going to be put in jail for the night. We will all go to the court house in the morning and present our case to another judge. The judge needs to keep the iPad for the night and present it as evidence tomorrow for trail.
Oh, no way… they are all going to jail!?! Also, crazy that we actually have the iPad in our possession and then yet we are still unable to bring it back with us! So close
The deal is that they could all go home if they would give up the name of this “person” that originally took the iPad. The problem is that they won’t give up a name, number or any identifying information of this person. Obviously, we all have a hard time believing that this person exists. The fact still remains that someone originally stole the iPad from Port-Au-Prince Fellowship. That person may remain a mystery.
Reflecting a bit at this point, I am thinking, it was obvious the iPad was at the house. They just needed us all to leave the house so they could get the iPad from hiding. I feel worse seeing the young girl having to stay in jail. They probably were just looking for someone to hold the iPad in case someone needed to be convicted. Truly, I have no idea why they had her hold it but still sad either way.
Now in the evening, Troy is tracking the iPad all around downtown. I don’t have internet so he continues to give me updates. All we wonder is what in the world is this judge doing with the iPad. I guess we can’t do much about it now… maybe we will find out tomorrow… time for bed!
The following day we prepare for court
Barry, Pierre, and I are dressed in long pants with a nice shirt. I am feeling a bit nervous about heading to Haitian court. Not sure why. It is a strange feeling knowing that these guys could have a serious judgment. Of course, they deserve it. They are hurting the Haitians and others they lie and steal from in order to use for personal gain. Still, it is difficult for me to be happy about them being prosecuted. It reminds me of how thankful I am that Jesus talked about giving us a second chance. When we stumble and fall, he gives us forgiveness.
While waiting for the police officer to arrive we start driving to get Derek a Haiti phone. Derek will be the new driver for the next three months. We had just picked him up from the airport this morning.
On the road we get a phone call from John saying we need to head to court now. Derek, being the first time in Haiti, will just have to go with us! If you are going to have a first day, might as well make it exciting!
We fight through traffic and arrive downtown to pick up the police officer and then to the court house.
The police let us through the front doors and we head to the judges office. This is the same judge we were with yesterday. Only now he is dressed up in a suit and much more reserved. He is no longer the guy shouting, “Justice!” His domineer is reserved and smile faint. We share greetings and begin the conversation.
He explains to us that if this was a Haitian affair, the process would be simple and he would be able to push forward with the process.
He says, “Something bigger is going on behind the curtain.” Though he would like to pursue this further for monetary reasons and prestige in dealing with such a case, he says,
“I need to wash my hands of this case. I do wash my hands of this case.”
What happened last night, I wonder. Did the Korean ambassador payoff someone higher up who then forced the hand of this judge? What is going on behind the curtain! Of course, we may never know.
We do know that the Koreans did not spend the night in jail and then are again free to go about their business.
He pulls out the iPad from the cabinet and lays it on the desk staring at it for a moment as if replaying the events of yesterday in his head. The judge looks up to me and says,
“You could make a film out of what happened yesterday.”
We all had a smile on our face. I replied, “I will never forget that day.”