Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Venezuela, here we come!

(This was written on Monday in the airport in Curaçao and completed once we arrived in Venezuela.)

Today, the big day.

7 people,
7 military duffels @ 70lb. each,
7 hardshell full-size suitcases @ 70lb. each,
7 footlocker boxes @ 70lb. each,
7 carry-on suitcases @ 25lb. each,
7 backpacks @ 20lb. each...all that we now own,
on 3 different planes from Raleigh to Miami to Curaçao to Barquisimeto, Venezuela.

And here we sit in Curaçao...waiting once again...but this is sooooo different. This time it is the culmination of what we have worked towards for so many years...the years of running...the years of preparing (before and after the running)....the years traveling and raising support...the year learning Spanish...and we wait. Venezuela is the next stop. We will be on the the land of our calling...where God so gently and sweetly spoke to us through Pastor Gerson that we would have, not only the 5 children God has given us by birth, but the hundreds He has given us through  His plan!
What a wonderful day it is! God has shown us such great favor through each and every security checkpoint, ticket counter, baggage claim, customs, baggage weigh-in, etc. 

We have one more to go, the big one...Venezuela. 

The rules and regulations are so strict and the taxes/fines can be so high there, but God is faithful and He has shown Himself big on this day.

From the lady on the plane who sat with us during two separate flights today and became a new friend who wanted to hear our story and offered for us to visit her in her home in Bonaire when we need to come there...
to the AGWM Area Director for the Caribbean and our friend, Dale Coad, being on our 2nd flight with us and getting to fellowship with him...
to the employee at Insel Air who worked for over an hour to help us secure a large discount for all our luggage that, for the last flight of the day, was counted as extra luggage and over-weight in comparison to the first two flights where they were counted as free...
God has met us every step of the way.

Before we left, when people asked us what to pray for, we asked, (selfishly, I might add) for them to pray that our luggage would all arrive with us with no hassle and nothing missing, and they prayed...and God heard and answered in big ways!

...And now...the Rest of the Story!

We boarded the plane for Venezuela around 8pm and within minutes were given our immigration forms. With 7 to fill out and one customs form for the entire family and only a 25 minute plane ride, I had my work cut out for me.
I don’t know if I have ever written so fast in my life, I had completed 75% of each form when they informed me that I needed to close my tray table. 

Scott finished the customs form and as we landed, I was able to finish the immigration forms. We got off the plane on the runway and Malachi said he felt like he was the president.

And Micah looked at me and said...”Welcome home!”

My nerves were too shot to acknowledge my emotions in that moment.

And then we walked into the smallest airport that I have ever been in. One tiny room where we lined up in a huge line outside onto the tarmac as we waited to show our papers at immigration.

As we stood there, Scott was still completing the customs form, trying to declare the type of things we brought without giving too much detail, but not trying to look like we were trying to get out of paying the “aduana” or customs fees. 

He asked me how to say ‘pots and pans’ in Spanish and, of course, in that moment, I couldn’t recall. So the lady behind us, who spoke beautiful English, asked if she could help. 

When Scott asked her the same question, she was a little confused as to what kind of ‘pot’ my husband was referring to. He told her that it was the kind you cook in! 

She was very relieved that Scott was not trying to declare drugs!

Once we were through that line, we stood around in a very small room with everyone from our plane waiting for our luggage. 

We were able to explain to one of the airport officials that we had 21 checked bags coming through, not to mention the 14 carry-ons and backpacks. He told us that if there was no one in line when they all came through, then we could send them through the machines then, but otherwise, we would need to wait until last.

After we received 19 of our bags, we waited and waited and waited some more for those final two bags. We were all praying hard that they made it....and...finally they came through.

Then the long wait for all the other people to get through the line. If someone moved a bag 2 feet forward, the person behind shoved their bag into that spot as quickly as they could. The roped off area expanded, as people pushed and shoved themselves and their luggage forward.

We stood back and waited and prayed that our luggage would not be torn apart as they searched through it, or things taken out and not given back, or that we would have to pay huge fees for the items we had brought with us...

And then it was our turn...

The airport officials helped us load the luggage through the scanners, and helped us load them on cards afterward and they only grabbed one bag...Merci’s search. They found nothing but clothes and shoes and they didn’t touch another bag.

As we walked out of the airport, they closed and locked the doors behind us.


We fully expected to pay whatever we were asked to pay. 

Chris was waiting on the other side with funds waiting to pay the fees and...nothing!

God so faithfully went before us, beside us and behind us as we traveled to Venezuela!

Like He always has, and always will!

I Thess. 5:24 once again comes to mind and reveals who He is!

“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”