LOGAN — Kevin McBride described it as one of the best moments of his life.

His wife, Mandi, walked down the escalator at Salt Lake City International Airport terminal and into his arms Monday. Just a week earlier, he had not known whether he would ever see her again.

"It's good just to be with her," Kevin McBride told the Deseret News.

Mandi McBride and Carol Smith, both Logan nurses, left for Haiti Jan. 10 to help out at the Ruuska Village orphanage, located about seven miles from Port-au-Prince. Within 24 hours of their arrival, the 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit and the two started their journey of stitching lacerations, treating broken bones and experiencing an unthinkable disaster.

Both had said they thought it would be at least another week or two before they'd be able to return to Utah.

"I was just ready to lose it," Smith said of being away from her family and ailing parents. Her body was filled with bug bites; she caught a cold and began running a fever.

Then someone they had met on their way to Haiti showed up at the orphanage and told them there would be an Army flight to the U.S. on Sunday.

They were at the airport waiting in line at 8 a.m. the next day to see if they fit the criteria for the flight. They waited 6 1/2 hours, not saying much and just praying that they would be able to get on the flight.

"So many people got turned away," Smith said.

One of those was the friend who had told them about the flight in the first place, though he was able to get home on a later flight, she said.

It was hard for Smith to put into words her thoughts as she was greeted by her husband, three children and granddaughter at the airport a day later.

"I have such mixed feelings," Smith said with emotion in her voice. "It's such a relief to me, but I am so torn. I can hardly watch TV because I feel like I should be there. I can't quit crying."

McBride feels the same way but said she has responsibilities here and is planning to go back to Haiti with her husband and possibly sister-in-law, Angie Rasmussen, to help out when the country is a little safer in a couple of months.

Rasmussen is working on paperwork to get 10-year-old Abigaelle, whom Rasmussen has been trying to adopt for the past four years, out of Haiti within the next couple of weeks. If that happens, Rasmussen said she is likely to stay in Utah instead of make the trip.

McBride has been to Haiti many times before and has two adopted children from there. She had been begging Smith to go with her to Haiti for several months before they made the trip, and Smith said she finally decided to go.

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"Maybe it was meant to be," Smith said, speaking of the irony of her first and probably last trip to Haiti being what it was.

Smith said the experience has made her a different person, one with a greater desire to do humanitarian work. She also has learned how much she values the freedoms and leadership in the United States.

"I couldn't count to you the many blessings I am feeling," Smith said. "You listen to people talk about what it's like there, but until you see it, you can't believe it."

e-mail: slenz@desnews.com