It’s obvious to us that God has something exciting in store for us while we are in Lima, because the devil has been on overtime trying to thwart our trip both before and en route.
For the first time in 22 mission trips, we have had a bad travel experience. While in Mexico City awaiting our connecting flight to Lima, we searched for but could not find my Mexican immigration form. The airline, Aeromexico, said we could not board without the form. So, I had to go back to immigration, which meant running through the terminal to the other end of the airport and fill out paperwork. The immigration officials required a $25 document replacement fee, which had to be in Mexican pesos. So I went to a bank in the airport to exchange currency, waiting in line for several minutes for others to complete their transactions.
The bank teller was, of course, moving in slow motion as he made countless keystrokes on his computer before finally exchanging my currency. Then, it was back to immigration for my duplicate form, through customs and then run back all the way to the end of the terminal. When I arrived the gate was closed and, though Marsha begged them to wait, Aeromexico refused to do so. So, we missed that flight. Meanwhile while I was gone, Marsha had found the missing document in the chair where I had been sitting.
We were then informed that our bags had been taken off the plane and returned to American Airlines in another terminal. No amount of pleading would get them to bring the bags back over to the current terminal. An agent with Aeromexico suggested we get replacement tickets before going for our bags.
So it’s off to the ticket counter, where we are told that, because we had booked so cheaply, we would have to pay a penalty of $200 per ticket, plus the difference in ticket prices, which was another $340 EACH, totaling $1080 for the two tickets. Oh, my!!! We are stranded in Mexico City! What do we do now!!!
Somehow, our pastor, Bill Rogers, learned of our dilemma. He communicated with us via text message to buy the tickets and he would sit it was covered. So it’s back to the ticket counter where they are now saying $620 each. I argued the point and the agent came to $560 each, so I bit the bullet and bought the tickets. Now we had to get our bags from American Airlines at the other terminal.
Marsha stayed in the Aeromexico terminal while I made a mad dash to the American counter in the other terminal, only to find it unoccupied. I was directed to the AA baggage office which was closed, of course. By now we are bumping up against our second flight departure, so I told Marsha we would just go shopping in Lima if we had to, but we weren’t going to miss another flight. We did manage to catch that flight, arriving in Lima at 5:45 Saturday morning with no one to meet us. So it was pay whatever taxi fare we had to and go to the hotel.
I called Aeromexico after arriving at the hotel, to see what I could do about getting our bags, and learned that they had actually arrived in Lima. But I had to be at the airline office by 9:00 AM or wait another day. By the time I could get a taxi willing to go to the airport it was 8:10, and it was supposed to be an hour trip. But my taxi driver, a Peruvian National Police Officer working a second job, got me there just in time to arrive at the airline office at 9:00. The door was locked, so I banged on it, hoping somebody would respond. And, indeed, somebody did. My taxi driver was willing to wait, partly because I had only paid him a portion of his fare and partly because we managed to connect through a mutual profession—he a police officer and I a police chaplain. About 30 minutes later an Aeromexico agent came to the customs door to take me for my bags. I had to fill out a customs declaration form (again) and have our bags x-rayed (they may glow in the dark by now), but we had our luggage, finally, Gloria a Dios (Praise God)!
The remainder of the day Saturday was spent resting and preparing to preach in two churches on Sunday morning.
Not in spite of all this, but through all this, God showed Himself faithful. We could have been anxious—and, I admit, there were a few anxious moments—but we are in Lima, doing what God brought us here to do, and expect Him to do great things through us.
God never wastes an experience, and we’ve already used the experience in Mexico City to minister to others going through anxious or potentially anxious moments. And we saw six people come to Christ through our sharing. Here, by the way, is another place to say, “Gloria a Dios! Thanks for your prayers, and be looking for updates on our work here in Lima and later this week in Trujillo.