We arrived at the Tucson Airport at 4:05 am. Yeah, that means we left Phoenix at 2:05 am. We were five, sleep-deprived men with bags and a giant pallet full of Martial Arts floor mats. We were on our way to do a lot of different things, including putting on a Ju Jitsu tournament in Honduras. When we walked into the airport we were getting lots of interested stares and one evil glare. The lady checking people in wanted nothing to do with us. She threatened us with massive charges and told us we were ridiculous and would not make the flight.
By the time we finished with her, we had 15 minutes 'til takeoff. We rushed through security, ran full sprint to the gate, and saw the door closing. One of our guys reached first and was trying to explain our situation while I jammed my foot in the door to keep it from closing. The last man came running full speed around the corner, and we all made it on, panting and adrenaline pumping.
All during this chaos and stress, there was something else happening. The man who was in charge of loading the bags on the plane met us while we waited in line. As he watched the obstinate lady get upset with us, he told us he would take care of the mats for us. He was full of grace and seemed to understand that we were trying to do good by bringing these mats. I have done lots of flying, but I have never spoken with the guy in charge of loading the plane. For some reason, this time was different. Without him, the mats would not have made it, and us too, for that matter.
I am so grateful God knew we needed a special grace and He sent it our way. So, not only did we make it on, but so did our giant stack of mats.
We arrived in Belize with our giant stack of mats, and all of our stuff. We somehow got through customs for free and now had to try and figure out how to get the giant stack of mats from Belize City to Roatan, Honduras, where we would fly in three days. We knew the mats couldn’t all fit on the tiny plane from Belize City to Roatan, so they would have to go over in pieces and be stored until we could get there. We spoke with a guy and he said he would call someone to see if he could work things out. I said, “Okay,” and then talked with with my Belizean friend Pastor Kenny about how much he thought this would cost us. We both laughed a bit and felt like we were being led into an expensive scam, but we didn't have any other options.
The man came back and said it would be $1500 US to get them to Roatan. When we asked him what would happen to them when they got there, he said he didn’t know. We told him that was too much and that we are a missionary team taking these mats to help put on a Ju Jitsu tournament for some village kids in Honduras. He said, “Hold on,” and went in the back again. When he came out again, he told us it would be $500 US to get the mats over to Roatan, and $100 US for them to be stored there. We said, “That sounds much better,” and thanked him. He told us we got the super deal because, for some reason, he felt like he wanted to help us.
We arrived in Roatan and had one night there before going to Balfate, where the Ju Jitsu tournament would be held. At the customs desk we were asked where we would be staying. I showed them our reservation at G’s Place from Hotels.com. The lady checking my passport said she had never heard of it. She asked the other passport checkers around and no one had heard of it.
When we got outside the airport and found a taxi driver, he had never heard of G’s place. He asked the other taxi drivers and they had never heard of it, either. This left us feeling a bit uneasy. Also, before we came to Roatan, my brother had told us we were staying in a really rough area. His final message to me was, “Don’t get knifed.”
When we finally tracked G’s place down, it was about 9:00 pm. It looked like an extremely shady operation and we had no idea what was happening. There was a loud speaker blasting music, there were prostitutes nearby, and the guy in charge had his two-year-old daughter in one hand, a beer in the other. We began to have feelings of frustration, confusion, and uncertainty blowing on us just like the strong Roatan breeze.
Just when I thought we may have to go find another spot, the guy in charge came up to me and said he would work things out because, for some reason, he felt like God was telling him to. What? That came out of nowhere. Here in this place where a lot of shady stuff was going on, God was able to turn things in our favor.
THIS TRULY IS OUR FATHER’S WORLD.
For some reason, we have found a way, despite our insufficiency. For some reason, no challenge has been able to stop us. For some reason, people who know Jesus, and people who don’t, have all been drawn to helping us move forward. The reason is God’s grace.
The grace of God is so real and actively shaping our world. His grace is available to all those who will acknowledge God in all their ways. His grace is for you. You can “Attempt great things for God, and expect great things from God.” —William Carey