Going on no sleep is never a fun thing. However, the adrenalin was rushing through my blood as if it were trying to keep up with all the thoughts that were racing through my mind. Even though my entrance through customs in Cuba would not come till 5:30 PM Cuba time, the process consumed my mind from the moment we headed to the airport. I prepared all of my bags with the understanding that I would be entering with a religious visa. My first trip was met with a four hour welcoming party hosted by customs agents who found their enjoyment in various intimidation games. Then my last trip concluded with another hour and a half of the same fun. So this trip, I decided to go a safer route with a visa that permitted me to do more. Then, being the “line dancer” that I am, I still decided I would push those boundaries. The goals I aimed to accomplish today were pretty bold, even with the appropriate visa. However, I found out the day before that my visa had not come through and I would be forced to enter on a tourist visa instead. To top it off, my wife would be doing the same. I hated the idea of her having to enjoy that same welcoming party. I even debated taking her bags in myself to avoid that risk. The problem with this would be that it would raise the overall likelihood of all of it getting confiscated. She bravely said she would do whatever necessary and trust that The Lord would go before her.
On the flight to Cancun, our seats were all shuffled around and I ended up sitting next to my brother Ben. This was helpful because a week earlier, the plane size going into Cuba had been changed and the entire group had been forced to break up and take two different flights over on two different days. While this was a huge inconvenience, it also allowed for that extra day which was what was needed for the religious visas to finally come in.
On the flight, we were able to go over the ministry plan for that night in Cancun. Pastor Everette and him would be leading the Cancun group into a small Yucatan village. they would be setting up a projection screen and speakers and gathering members of the community together to play the “Who Is Jesus?” video. I believe there were a half a dozen people who chose to accept Christ that night. I was also able to review with him all that he should expect the next day in the process getting into the country.
It was also during this flight that he shared a vision one of his church members had had. She called him and explained that she saw a clear picture of The Lord using ground packers and steam rollers just clearing the path for our team to enter the country. All obstacles were rolled right over and we were given clear passage. This was a comforting word for my anxious self.
Once we arrived into Cancun, the 11 individuals who were staying for one night went on and met up with Ricardo while Nancy, Lasharnda, and myself made our way to the other terminal. It was here that The Lord continued to build my faith that all would be OK. We went to the ticket counter to check in and I was certain I would have to pay a significant fee for the overweight baggage I had. I really didn’t want them to weigh my camera backpack because it weighed close to 50lbs all by itself. In the end, I put the one 70lb bag and one 50lb bag on the scale. He simply issued our two tickets and sent us on our way with no fees. However, in the line next to us, Lasharnda was being asked to weigh and then check her carryon also. I was certain she would get charged so I handed her a $100 bill to cover it (from the trip funds). I then hurried nancy and I away from the counter to avoid any issues. When she joined back up, she gave the money back and said they didn’t charge a dime. This was encouraging. I put the bill back in my pocket and we made our way through customs and then grabbed a bite to eat.
As we were leaving the restaurant, I noticed that $100 was no longer in my pocket. It must have come out when I pulled my phone out. I was so disappointed because that wasn’t even my money. It belonged to the ministry of the trip. Before we left, I asked the waiter if he had seen any money on the ground. Of course, we were in Mexico and I was told he didn’t see it. I decided I wouldn’t let it beat me down but it surely was. We made our way to our gate and got seated to wait. About 10 minutes later, the waiter came and found us on the complete opposite side of the terminal. He handed me the $100 and said he had gone back and viewed the security footage. He looked to see where I dropped it, then watched who picked it up. He went so far as to follow that person on camera all the way to their terminal and then he went to go find them. Then he similarly followed me to my terminal to be able to bring me back the $100 I had lost. WOW!!!!!!!!! I’m convinced this was one more way God wanted to instill a peace in me and an encouragement that He is the God of the impossible.
When we arrived in Cuba, I was permitted through the various lines without any trouble and so were Nancy and Lasharnda. I waited at the baggage claim for my suitcase and then proceeded on my way. My suitcase had been flagged as needing to be checked. Unlike last year, on this occasion, I was met with nothing but polite customs officers with no intent to intimidate. While I was delayed for about an hour or two, there wasn’t a single problem and I was sent on my way with all of my belongings. Though this does not seem like a massive victory, it truly was a work of God. The prayers of those back home as well as those We would be visiting in country had been heard by God and He was gracious to grant us favor.
We made our way to the hotel with Miguel and talked over the plans for the next day. As I laid my head down on the pillow that night, I thanked The Lord for His continued favor and provision. And I asked that He repeat that same favor the next day for those who would be traveling in. My parents would be arriving in the morning and their miracle would be as great or greater than even ours. Check back for Day 2 to hear about it.