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Bradenton mission group returns from Haiti, calls experience a "blessing"

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BRADENTON, FL (WWSB) - A youth group from a Bradenton church is now back home after being stranded in Haiti. Now, those young missionaries are sharing their account of what happened during deadly riots.

"Our high school pastor told us to expect the unexpected on the trip, and that definitely happened," joked Dan Osborne, an 18-year-old student with the Woodland Community Church.

"I think the moments that were the most uncomfortable stood out to us," said Shelby Ryskamp, a 19-year-old missionary.

Some of the students credit a higher power for extra time in the city of Neply when their flight was cancelled last weekend due to deadly riots in the streets.

"We got about a half hour down the road. There wasn't anything dangerous. There were some rocks in the road. We were informed there were even more further down," said Sammy Duran, Middle School Pastor for Woodland, of his experience.

The group was unable to drive approximately 30 miles to Port au Prince as the road was filled with burning tires, damaged buildings, and angry protesters, after the Haitian government announced a rise in fuel prices.

"Some people tried to talk their way through them. Some people told us there would be more as we got closer to the airport. For our safety, we decided to turn around," accounted Ryskamp.

The 28 missionaries are now back on the Suncoast sharing their experience at the Woodland Community Church in the first services since their return.

"We may have been planning this trip for nine month,s but regardless if you have booked flights or not, it's up to Him," explained Sophia Light.

Despite their obstacles, the group says they will share the lessons learned in Haiti at their church, and throughout the Bradenton community.

"We did make a difference. You could feel that," smiled Ryskamp.

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