Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Introducing The Great White

Shotgun start... urgent message from the mission director, Fontaine, "This is not a drill. We are a go. 
Be down and ready to roll by 12:30."

"In Guatemala, everything is possible.
Nothing is easy." ~Edgar Ramos

We soon discovered that we needed our legal representative to sign the check, and realized that we had no idea where he was. Step one, track down the legal representative. 

We caught up with our legal representative having lunch, gained his signature and then went to the nearest BAC Reformador Bank to learn that 
they did not do Cashier's Checks. 

Undaunted, we drove across the city to a second BAC Reformador bank to be told that they would not cash the check without the legal rep present. So off we went, out of the capital to our local branch where after an hour of paperwork, verifications, and phone calls, we walked out with our Cashier's check. It was then 3:30. It had taken 3 hours to accomplish step one. 

We drove back into the Capital, into one of the most dangerous zones, to find the attorney located in a subterranean parking garage. At this point it was like every movie gone wrong I've ever seen. 

Giovanni was checking the place out while I studied the layout of the hallway. This little strip of storefronts was surrounded by the concrete jungle of the garage. An armed guard stood at the far end, and directly behind Giovanni was the small business owned by the seller of the van. 

Although we were 30 minutes late, the sellers had not arrived... and so we waited. Finally, they arrived at 4:30 and the paperwork process began. Since we had no prior relationship with the sellers, it was a situation of intense mutual distrust. Every step was cautious, and double checked by all parties. The process crawled until finally we began signing the newly created title.

After the attorney completed the final forms, we asked to see the van before handing over the check. It was now 5:30. In five hours all that we had accomplished was printing a check and signing a title. I felt my head nearly explode when the seller stated that the car was not there... it was now being driven from Jocotenango, over an hour away. 

And so... we waited in the offices of the attorney and of the seller until 6:00 at which point we agreed to all drive to a strip mall nearby where we could inspect the van, and the seller could walk to the bank to cash the check. 

This was after a major discussion and disagreement that nearly blew the entire deal. The seller wanted us to go and cash the check with them... and I refused. I simply was not willing to risk that much cash. They finally agreed that they would hand us the keys, and they would accept the check after we had inspected the van. 

We took the lady of the family with us, she was the legal owner, a very nice traditional Guatemalan lady who told us about her family and that she was a Christian. We arrived with her at the designated parking lot... and her son was no where to be found. Neither was the van.

It began to get windy, cold, and dark. 

It felt like an hour passed, but I checked the time stamp on my phone and it was only 15 minutes before the white van pulled up and we discovered the delay. The seller brought with him two more men. Up to this point, we had strength in numbers, now that money was about to exchange hands... they had us flanked. My only condolence was that it was a very public parking lot with armed security. 

The driver gave me the registration, keys, and parking pass to exit the lot. I started the engine and again inspected the vehicle, checking the interior, exterior, tires, engine, and undercarriage. Everything was in order and I was ready to hand over the check. It was at this point that we realized that the little lady, the owner, was no-where to be seen. I started to panic until her son explained that she had to go to the bathroom. 

Seriously? After all the waiting, all the running, finally we're ready to take the leap... and she has to pee. Ten minutes later... here she came. This was the critical moment. In my head I pictured three possible scenarios: (1) Everyone is happy and the exchange of van and check goes smoothly, (2) We can't agree on how to do the exchange and so we call the deal off, (3) The men who surround us take the check by force and they leave with the van. 

I smiled to myself in my state of worry... because in my heart I knew that we had people praying for us. I reflected on the history of a man of faith giving me a dollar for a van, and the amazing path we've been on this past week of finding a van and receiving funding. I realized that even if the worst situation were to happen, I was ok with it. God had been with us this far, He wouldn't abandon us if we faced trouble.

I took the check out of my vest pocket, handing it to the little lady... and was stunned to see tears of relief in her eyes as she and her son inspected the check. It was done! Suddenly everyone's apprehension fell like weights from shoulders and we were handshaking and hugging. 

It was 7:30 PM, the simple transaction of printing a check, notarizing a title, and exchanging payment had taken 7 hours. That's right Edgar, nothing is easy. I loaded up into the captain's seat for the first time and felt like Captain James T. Kirk piloting the Enterprise out of the space dock for the first time. It was dark, I was on the wrong side of town, but I was driving the van the God had supplied.

We arrived home around 8:30 pm. Mission accomplished.

Everyone likes a good fish tale, and man has this ever been a whopper of a true story! For those of you who have followed from the beginning... this was a simple act of faith.
My friends... my God is real.

Five days ago, I felt God commanding us to go and find a van. I had $1 in my pocket and no idea that He had placed the perfect van in a place that I'd only find through our obedience and public search. I had no idea that God would send us: Ansonia Church of God, The Harbron Family, Dayspring Church of God, The Wallace Family, The Breiel Church, and Mt. Victory & Ridgeway UMC who would all catch the Spirit and make this possible.

After some intentional maneuvering, the van sits at home in our driveway. It's been an amazing faith walk, a wild ride, an experience that has humbled me, strengthened my faith, increased relationships, and gives us hope for our ministry moving forward. God has honored our obedience.
The glory is to Him... we're just along for the ride.

The Great White 

1 comment:

  1. You take us on the roller coaster ride of a missionary who puts his faith in a big God and his life on the line to get a van for ministry. Who wouldn't want to support your efforts with a few dollars from our Faith Promise missions budget? Dayspring Church of God family wishes you Godspeed and safety in the future journeys in The Great White!