May 26, 2008 – Monday

Fortunately the day didn’t have to begin too early.  Normally when traveling to Mexico I get about 2 hours of sleep the night before between 1:30 and 3:30 AM.  Last night I went to bed at a relatively early midnight, so when the alarm went off at 7:00 AM I felt rather refreshed.  A morning shower and adding a couple of items to my luggage was all that was left to do.  

Claire and I hopped in the car about 8:25 AM excited about our first stop – Chic-fil-A!  “Two chicken biscuits with cheese and a large cherry coke please!”, was our heartfelt request.  It was a little disconcerting not to be greeted with the extra-exuberant service one is accustomed to at Chic-fil-A; however, our chicken biscuits with cheese did not disappoint.

By the time we pulled onto Hwy. 316 it was 8:45 AM.  As expected, we made great time thanks to many people having Memorial Day off work, and we pulled up to the Atlanta Airport South Terminal about 9:45 AM. Claire and I said our goodbyes, and she dropped me off at the curb.  The International check in was extra slow.  I attempted to use the International Kiosk…the machine scans my passport…allows me to put in all key information…and then informs me that I should just go ahead to the regular check-in desk…thank you very much.  Though there are 14 spots only person #7 is working people through the line.  In the 30 minutes I was there I believe she handled more passengers than the other 13 combined.  Security was a breeze, and I was off to Concourse E.  I hung out in the food court for a while (yes food will be a recurring theme).  Due to my aversion for airplane food, I like to buy something to go and then eat it on the plane.  Panda Express looked good, but they have a 2 entree, $7 minimum purchase…so neither the quantity nor the price were appealing.  I was surprised when I asked if they had any meal smaller than the 2 entrees, 2 side dishes and heard, “No, it is either 2 or 3 entrees.”  Since I wasn’t in the mood to be gluttonous, I headed off too smaller choices at McDonald’s…wait…did I just write that…shouldn’t I have super-sized something.

The plane took off on time, the middle seat next to me was empty and a younger teenager sat in the window seat.  I attempted to make conversation with him, but he was obviously shy, intimidated, and preferred to hide behind his headphones.  Through out the plane ride I was able to make enough headway by sharing Starbursts, letting him borrow a pen, and helping him fill out his immigration and customs paperwork to be able to give him a tract as the plane was landing.  It is wild to think those little pieces of paper from a stranger used by God Almighty could somehow change his life.  

As much as I hate to admit it, normally I am a little bit afraid when flying…particularly take off and landing…since that is when something bad is more likely to happen.  Anyway, this time it was better, my heart didn’t beat faster than normal, and I had a sense of calm.  For this I am thankful.

The movie on the plane was “Bucket List”.  The idea is that Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson are in a hospital together and they are both told they only have a few months to live.  They make a list of things they would like to accomplish before they die.  Though it is not a great movie it does beg a question.  What are we doing/not doing with our time here?  For that I appreciate it, along with Morgan Freeman’s voice narrating the movie

We hit the usual turbulence upon decent into Mexico City, but it wasn’t anything to get alarmed about.  The landing, de-boarding, immigration, customs, and baggage claim were a breeze unlike the gauntlet I will face when arriving back in Atlanta…the whole process took about 30 minutes.

At that point I needed to catch my bus to Orizaba…due to needing to get some sleep, I’m going to summarize it by saying I missed the 3 PM bus by less than five minutes.  It was my first time using the new terminal and figuring out where everything was took a little longer than the time I had I was a little frustrated…and stuck in the old terminal…where it is hot and uncomfortable.  So I prayed and said, “Lord, please have a good reason for me to miss that bus.”

I eventually found a more comfortable seat (after McDonald’s again and buying a Subway sandwich for dinner on the bus later on).  Shortly a young lady named Angelina sat down and asked me where I was from and what I was going to be doing in Mexico.  Well it doesn’t get much easier for me to get a conversation going in the right direction than when someone starts asking those sorts of questions.  She was on her way to Italy to see her boyfriend and his family.  I knew I was running out of time because my bus was about to leave so I asked for her address to send her a couple of books.  She gave me what will be her address in Italy for the next 3 months.  I’m praying the Lord will use the books (including the Bible) Claire and I send to her to change her life.

When boarding the bus there was a couple in front of me, the young lady looks caucasian, but I have been wrong before, the young man she is with is Mexican.  As we are boarding the bus she says, “I have to ask where you are from…”  So Adrian, Nikki, and I talked the 3 and 1/2 hours to Orizaba.  I believe it was a divine appointment, and they have made plans to come to the worship service Sunday morning.  It was sad to hear her speak of how she does not feel accepted by most people in this area, yet her sadness and desire for community is a great opportunity for the believers here to show the difference the love of Jesus Christ makes.

Pepe and Dr. Ramirez from Honduras picked me up from the bus station, and we went back to Pepe’s house.  Judy put food on the table for me (if you are keeping count that is meal #5 for the day), and I am feeling right at home in my second home…Rio Blanco, Mexico, surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation…a little nervous and excited about an extended teaching time with the missionary team in the morning.