WASHINGTON - Twelve hours after a Haitian judge approved their release, eight missionaries stepped off a military cargo plane and onto U.S. soil in Miami, Fla.
"We have been praying so hard for them, so we're just glad that God has answered our prayers favorably," said Veronica Culberson of Bethel Baptist Church.
The missionaries had been charged with kidnapping for trying to take 33 Haitian children into the Dominican Republic without Haitian adoption certificates.
However, the judge handling the case, Bernard Saint-Vil, set eight of the missionaries free without bail after some parents testified they had given their children to the Americans freely in hopes of providing them with a better life.
They said the Baptists promised to educate their children and let them visit.
"Things look very good right now, we're obviously very excited and pleased," said Caleb Stegall, a district attorney in Kansas who has been helping some of the missionaries.
But two of the missionaries including the group's leader, Laura Silsby, were ordered to stay behind for more questioning. The judge wants to learn more about a trip they took to the tiny island nation in December before the earthquake to ask about obtaining orphans.
"I am trusting God to reveal all truth, and that we will be released and exonerated of charges," Silsby said. "And we are just waiting for the Haitian process, legal process, to complete."
Missionaries Free, But Haiti Still in Need
Although the missionaries have received a lot of media attention, it is the people of Haiti who are still in need of a great deal of help.
Tent cities that went up immediately after the quake have since been transformed into shanty towns. People are using any materials they can find to create homes, bakeries and even lottery stands.
However, disease, suffering and misery continue and are exacerbated by crime.
"There is no security," one doctor said, telling a reporter he never sees police or soldiers.
Haitians are now waiting for their president to announce where the government will set up camps.
Meanwhile in the U.S., families of the released missionaries are simply thankful their loved ones are back.
"I can say with some confidence that my clients are completely innocent and did not have any intention to do anything wrong and in fact I expect them to be fully cleared," Stegall said.
He said the missionaries are looking forward to a soft bed, good meal and a hot shower.