TRUSSVILLE, AL (WBRC) - Hugs, tears, and lots of smiles all around as 30 teens and their parents returned home safely Tuesday from a trip to Haiti.
Their trip was delayed after protests in the country led to planes not being allowed to leave or come to the country.
Cheers erupted as their bus pulled up to Faith Community Church in Trussville.
Then students burst off the bus, straight into parents' arms. Some of those hugs, wet with tears of joy.
"I'm just glad to be back with my family," said Sophia Cornwall, just minutes after wrapping her arms around her mom.
"It was tough," her mother Christi Kyle said of being away from her daughter for so long. "But she was God's first and He loves her more than I ever could, so He had her," she went on to say.
The group left Alabama for Haiti back on June 30. What was supposed to be a seven-day trip turned to ten when protests broke out in the Caribbean island over rising fuel prices.
But the students, who were there with a group called Mission of Hope, were never in harm's way.
They were several miles away from the unrest in a secure compound with plenty of food and water but the trip was delayed after protests led to planes not being grounded.
"It definitely gave a greater sense of purpose because the longer we stayed we bonded with each and our faith in God grew stronger each and every day," said Avery Kelley, who was all smiles while holding her bunny, Willow.
Reflecting on the experience, several students said they would not hesitate to return to the impoverished country again.
"I would go back to Haiti in a heartbeat just to serve the people again. It's a great experience, it's life-changing, it's changed my world forever," said Bradley Madaris.
Aubrey Mavin had a similar perspective. "Coming back and realizing it makes me want to go back, like tomorrow, because they seem hopeless and we bring them so much hope. It makes me want to go back and say, 'We're here for you.'"
Christy Palmer is Madaris' mother. She said she never feared for his life despite the prolonged trip. "We did learn to pray without ceasing. That was a big thing and our faith was being tested and they're home and I could be happier to have my son home."
The congregation of Faith Community Church raised the funds to charter a plan to bring the group back home.