So many adventures to report!
Made a run for the border recently… that is not a reference to Taco Bell. I literally went to the border.
I had always wondered what the Pan-American Highway would be like… somehow I thought it might be a little bigger. Here’s what I saw…
Pretty representative of much of this beautiful country… and, yes, I am passing him on a two lane highway, but that’s definitely the norm here.
Before I made it to the border I stopped for gas. I have an app on my phone that sends me a notification any time a purchase is made on my credit card. Well, after the young man fueled up my car (they do not have self-serve here), my phone “dinged” and told me of the expense. As I was about to start the car, it “dinged” again. They had charged me twice. However, they were very clever to charge me different amounts so that the credit card company would think it was two legitimate, separate purchases. Well, I didn’t really like that. It doesn’t bother me if it’s an accident. It doesn’t bother me if someone needs money, and they ask for help. I like to help.
However, it bothers me when I think that they take advantage of and bully unsuspecting people who are oblivious to their crime. I explained to the young man pumping the gas that he had charged me twice. He assured me that wasn’t possible. I explained that it was possible, and I had no doubt about it. Finally, he realized that I knew. He told me that I would have to go to the bank to get my money back. Well, I know how the banks work here. I wasn’t going to do that. I asked to speak to his boss. I explained the whole process to the boss as well. Again, he denied that anything had been done. We had a circular conversation for awhile. Finally, he knew he had lost. He told me that I would need to go to the bank to get my money. I explained that was not an option. I did not bully, but I explained that he would give me my money in cash. After we had both repeated ourselves several times, he hung his head, admitting defeat… and he handed me my money.
It wasn’t even about the money! The thought of someone bullying gets my goat. Something ugly arises within me. There is always a temptation to bully the bully, but I don’t want to perpetuate the cycle. It was a picture of what’s inside us here. We want to fight some of the social injustice without perpetuating the cycles! That’s hard to do though.
I know they’re bad pictures, but here’s the gas station where Swiper tried to swipe my card multiple times.
Within a few minutes of the gas station, I reached the border. I was not totally sure what to expect. I had spoken with friends and read blogs, but it’s always different in person.
Before I could get out of my car to pay my exit fees, a huge crowd swarmed to my car door. Literally, they were flooding into me. They were all offering to help ($$$) me get across the border quickly. Again, I sensed something ugly rising up within me. Had they bullied some young, confused single mom’s that were trying to cross the border? Had they charged exorbitant fees to people with limited resources just because they had convincing arguments?
Because I’m a gringo that’s new to all of this, I agreed to let a couple guys “help” (again, $$$) me cross the border. I didn’t realize that I couldn’t actually drive across without a permit. So, it looked like I would be parking my car and walking across.
This is where they fumigate cars… rather scary.
Between the drive-thru fumigation and the guy with the leaf blower (that sprays crazy chemicals)… I was glad to be walking.
I am learning that there are a lot of lines in Central America… much waiting. There are actually some people who stand in lines for other people as their jobs.
I think this is where they put the naughty Gringos. I thought about looking for some of my old friends that I hadn’t seen in awhile, but I had limited time.
Well, the “something ugly” rose up within me another time recently as well. I had just brought the kids home from school, and a very nice Landcruiser pulled up in front of my house. A young man, a woman and a little girl hopped out. The man was wearing rather fancy (maybe dry-cleaned) clothes. That’s rather strange here. I only see collared-shirts from people who have them as their work uniform.
The young man started to talk, and immediately I knew that he was from the South. I’m fairly familiar with a Southern draw. Rather strange, moving several thousand miles to be meeting this family. They were Jehovah’s Witnesses. We have had quite a few of the Jehovah’s Witnesses come by our home. This was a little different.
We talked for quite awhile, but a couple things concerned me. When he saw the damage to my car and somehow through conversation heard of some of the things that had broken in my home, he half-jokingly said, “Maybe God’s trying to tell you something?” The implication was that we shouldn’t be here. I wanted to take him to 2 Corinthians 11 (where Paul lists being stoned, shipwrecked, beaten, flogged, whipped, without food, in danger from…), but I didn’t. I smiled and told him the blessings the Lord has poured on us are too great to count.
Then it began… I don’t have any problem with him sharing his faith. I love the passion and determination he has to share it. However, I realized it was an attempt at intellectual bullying. He wanted to try to use (manipulate) the Scriptures to prove everything I believe is wrong. Again, there is the ugly temptation to bully. I may not remember a single thing from any of my science classes, but for some reason much of my seminary hasn’t escaped my pea-brain (yet). I’ve been very fortunate to get to study (even if I forget a lot of it) apologetics, hermeneutics, theology, etc. He didn’t know this. I think the frustration (and the “something ugly that was rising up in me”) was because I know he has bullied people who have not studied the Scriptures. Obviously, it’s okay for that to bother me, but it’s not okay for me to try to make him feel intellectually like a dumb dumb. I avoided any theological battle. I tried simply to offer relationship rather than debate, but I was so painfully aware of what was present inside of me.
Why is this rising up within me so strong? Well, maybe I remember being bullied from long ago? Maybe I so long to fight for those who have been marginalized? Yes, to both!
I think the Lord is continuing to reveal and increase the passion that Kelly and I have to do what the Lord is laying on our hearts to do.
I had been sensing that the Lord was on the verge of offering breakthrough. It felt like doors would be opening soon. This time my “sense” was exactly right. There has been so much breakthrough!
My kids are learning a new culture, a new language… they’re building friendships. They are learning more about life and values than anything I could teach them from books.
For the first time since we lived since we lived in Tennessee (many years ago!), I had to call my kids in from playing outside (after it was dark) with the neighbors! Huge answer to prayer! (They’re playing a Spanish version of Red Light, Green Light.)
A handful of friends have each contacted their friends in ministry to connect us. We are blown away by the response and receptiveness! It appears that the Lord may be opening far more doors than what we can pursue!
Even the pic below… it was such an honor to be invited to an all Tico Men’s Group. A very dear friend here requested that I visit the group with them. He’s the kind of friend I would do anything to hang out with. The kindness and humility of these men floored me.
Definitely sensing an acceleration of what’s happening here…
Trying to be aware of what is going on inside of my heart.
Curious… hopeful… expectant… grateful.
Much love from the Backwardsmissionaries