Day 1 – 8/18/08

We are here, safe and sound, thanks be to the Lord. Dad and I have spent a long two days traveling to get here. We arrived yesterday (Sunday) at 11:45 pm in San Pedro Sula after meeting in Fort Lauderdale and made a very uneventful (thankfully) trip through customs. The hotel shuttle picked us up and brought us to our hotel for the night. There is an 8’ concrete block wall around the entire complex with 4 strands of electrified fence on top of that. Armed guards patrolled sidewalks in the shadows of the many street lights. We’ve heard that San Pedro Sula can be a little dangerous, but this hotel is like being in a fortified compound. Have you ever remembered something that woke you up in the middle of the night? I suddenly awoke realizing that I had LEFT one of my bags at the San Pedro Sula airport. One of our bags was over the 50lb weight limit (flying is so complicated now) so I bought a small bag at the gift shop real quick and threw some heavy stuff in it and checked it on the plane….and then promptly forgot about it. When we got to San Pedro Sula, I was tired enough and stressed enough that well, I forgot it. No problem right? Just wander down to baggage claim and go to the airline office and pick it up the next day, right? Not so in Central America…..
I have an idea for a new reality show. Survive a week on an island? Eat worms and bugs? Nah, that’s nothing. In my show, you have to walk into a Central American airport and try and convince someone that you need to pick up a lost piece of luggage that you FORGOT the night before without speaking the language. Yes, the various airline representatives speak some English – but the airport staff does not! For extra credit, we’re going to make your bus schedule such that you have to get this done in about thirty minutes. I now know that it is impossible to get anything done in Honduras in thirty minutes, anything. Well, I take that back. It is possible to make an entire airport staff mad at you in thirty minutes when you try and explain to all of them that your bag is lost and that it really wants to be back with you and would they please help???
I did eventually get reunited with my lost piece of luggage thanks to the only man on the airport staff that knows any English – named Ernie. He took me back into the bowels of the airport that I did not know existed and through immensely complicated metal chain link fence gates. Supervisors threatened Ernie with untold horrors if he screwed this up. “He wants what?” “Why did he forget his luggage?” “Did he forget anything else?” All the while, my dad waited patiently with the rest of the luggage – yes, I said patiently. By the time we had worked all of this out – our bus to La Ceiba was long gone. We were able to reschedule for the next bus six hours later.
Now, in our new reality television show, once you’ve retrieved your luggage, you have to find someone in the airport that will loan you their cell phone so that you can “phone a friend” and let them know that you’re going to be six hours late. I found and enterprising young man (Honduran) that was selling phone calls on his cell phone for 10 Lempiras (about .50 USD) for a minute. Sold. I was able to coordinate with a missionary from the hospital who had come to San Pedro Sula for a weekend holiday and swung by and picked us up. What a neat blessing. There were several really neat blessing today – the most important of which was that I got to spend a lot of quality time with my dad in the airport. Besides the times when I was off doing the preliminary work for the reality tv show (trying to find my luggage), I was also able to “hang out” with Dad in the airport – what a blessing. If you need quality time with someone, may I suggest being shipwrecked in a foreign airport? It works! I think the best thing was that I was able to really tell dad about why we are going to serve at Loma De Luz and he really understood. What a huge blessing. How many missionaries would give their right leg to have the chance to communicate on this level with their parents about the “why” factor? What a blessing! Thank you Lord for broken schedules and for being late for the bus!
Our ride to La Ceiba with Doctor Renee was eventful enough to warrant its own post and I will write on that soon. Suffice to say that it was a study in how amazing it is that any human being survives a car trip in this country. The madness that goes for driving here really can’t be overstated. I’ve written on it before and I look forward to telling today’s story but this post is already way too long (sorry!).

We are now in our hotel in La Ceiba and will get to work tomorrow. Thanks for praying for us on this trip. I’m looking forward to see what God has in store for us tomorrow.