Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Small Prayer with Big Expectations

How do you begin an impossible journey? 

Our departing team last week had a backpack seized at the airport security checkpoint. They sent word to us via Facebook message to their daughter, Alisa, and her friend Caylee, who remained to serve in the village and orphanage. All we had to do was go and pick up the backpack. Of course, it just isn't that easy.

The first attempt to grab the bag was Sunday afternoon... and the airport said that they do not return items on Sundays.

Monday afternoon, my friend, mission partner, and translator, Antony took Alisa and Caylee into the Mayan village where we met up with our local pastor and delivered much needed food and shared in times of prayer and moments of genuine life on life, mutual compassion.

And so after a powerful, yet emotionally exhausting day of praying with sick, malnourished, and critically ill families in the village, my friend Antony and I took Alisa back to the airport to made a second attempt. 

Thus began the impossible journey.

I knew some things before we left. Important things like, identification is needed to enter the airport, and in order to pick up luggage, your identification must match the baggage tag. Without ID, we had no right to claim the bag.

This was problematic for three reasons: (1) my Passport was at the attorney's office, (2) Antony's identification was across town in Kellie's car, and (3) Alisa's identification would not match the baggage ticked on the backpack that was registered under her mother's Passport. 

Even so... off we went. 

We were quickly stopped at the outer door of the airport. As expected, Antony and I could not enter, and although Alisa could (since she had her Passport), the office had closed five hours ahead of schedule. Antony persisted with the security guard and so he told us that we could walk out of the airport to the administration building and go up to the third floor to plead our case.

Of course we were met with more security there who again stopped Antony and I from entering. I gave Alisa my phone so that she could talk with Antony who would help her with translation. After 30 minutes of discussion between Alisa and the official inside the building, and Antony standing with me on the street, things were not looking good.

The official told us that we would need a hand-signed letter from Alisa's mother that indicated her consent for us to pick up the bag. It is about three hours round trip to get to the airport. If we had to return the next day, we would have to cancel our appointment to serve at a local orphanage. 

Even though I'd known the chances of us getting that bag were slim, I still felt crushed that we'd failed. We agreed to try again the next day. I walked away from the guard shack that was detaining us and just stood at the curb.

I began to pray.

"God... I know this is just a little matter. Still, I think you care about the little things. Here's the deal, maybe you want me to learn more patience, or humility, or maybe there's just a lot that I don't know, but I'm just going to ask. Can you please do something to help this? I'm tired. I'm frustrated. If we have to come back tomorrow, then we can't go and hold those babies. We can't help the staff at the orphanage, and I'm going to have to send this team back to Ohio without giving them an opportunity to serve those kids. Maybe great things could happen tomorrow? Maybe hearts and lives could be shaped for your purpose? I just don't know. God, I know this isn't life or death, or some major thing... but I'm just asking. Please make a way. Help us get this bag today."

I don't think I even closed it out with the expected, "In Jesus name I pray, amen." I just gave it to God and honestly, I felt better about it. 

The phone rang back. As Alisa was leaving, the guard said, "Hey, there is another backpack in the office in the other building. I think they're closed, but you might just go and try." Of course, this was the first building where we had been refused entry. Our little group discussed it when Alisa came down to meet us. I thought of my prayer and allowed myself a little grin while I told Antony, 

"You know, I've been praying about this. Let's try one more time."

Antony led us up to a different security agent at the gate who again said, "They're closed. There's no-one up there." Antony asked him if we could just try anyway. The guard agreed and let Alisa enter the airport. 

Antony and I waited outside as she boldly went in. Alisa crossed the corridor and made her way up the offices. Standing outside the locked glass doors, she could see her mother's backpack.

A couple of airline employees walked by and she tapped on the glass. They came over and she asked them to hand her the backpack. Foregoing all security precautions and violating airport procedure, they opened the door and gave her the backpack. Amazing.

How do you begin an impossible journey? You just start taking steps. 

There's really only two things to remember: it all depends on God, and we have to put some sweat into it. 

Oh yeah... it also helps to pray small prayers with big expectations. He really does care.

I think sometimes He just wants us to ask. 

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