It's been three years since a devastating earthquake shook the island nation of Haiti. About a year ago, a Bay county couple traveled to the country on a mission trip.
"They would have shops like this made of anything they could find," says Shannon Allen as she points to a picture she captured of Port-au-Prince on a 2012 mission trip to Haiti with her husband.
The picture shows the area 2 years after a 7.0 earthquake turned the lives of at least 3 million Haitians upside down.
"It was a lot to take in all at once," says Allen."I mean we had no idea, we had seen the news, but had no idea how bad the devastation was."
They flew into the capitol, but their mission was in a city located an hour away in the mountains, Fond Baptiste. A city that didn't even know the magnitude of the natural disaster.
"They told us that the only way they knew something happened," explains Allen, "Someone came from the city which was very rarely because they don't have a reason to go up there, and told them there was an earthquake. They had no idea because they are so far away from it."
But in order to get to Fond Baptiste they had to travel through areas that were affected. Areas they were surprised to see hadn't fully recovered.
"We had a tour guide there all time and we were asking him, 'Have they come far from when it started?'," explains Allen. "And what we came to realize that it's very hard for anyone to get up on their feet and dust themselves off and keep going."
Allen says she and the group were hoping and praying that their mission work in Fond Baptiste would also benefit the capitol.
"That not just Fond Baptiste to start to be able to have jobs and feel like they're going somewhere again, but for Port au Prince, which experienced the most damage," says Allen. "To see hey, they can do it, so we should do that. We should have confidence that we can get back up on our feet."
For the Allen's, the mission trip was an unforgettable experience. An experience that made them feel grateful for the things they have in life, including each other.
The couple's North star church hopes to send another group of volunteers to Haiti this year.