Reasons we don’t always see

My parents are a part of an amazing adventure right now!  The fact that their group of fifteen was able to fly to Brazil Tuesday afternoon, though, almost didn’t happen.  To explain, I’ll have to turn the clock back a few months…

Last fall, the trip’s planners were getting the trip rolling.  What exactly was the purpose of the said trip?  A boat would travel down the Amazon River, stopping at villages along the way to offer medical and dental care to people who live in these remote areas.  And for these individuals, this boat, with examining rooms and volunteers on board, is likely the only care of this kind they ever receive.  This is a wonderful ministry, and Dad and Mom were excited to help encourage others to be a part of this group, as they had a wonderful experience here in Brazil two years ago.  But the biggest problem with sign-ups?  …This thing called a recession, with economic uncertainty plaguing society, placed more limits on availability of individuals who might otherwise be interested in this type of opportunity.

Ultimately, enough people, some from other areas, did sign up, get passports, receive immunizations, and apply for visas.  (And of course, they all prayed!!)  Next came the plane tickets: the travel agent was asked to schedule tickets from Indianapolis for Monday, February 22.  But once all of the tickets and plans came back through the travel agent, it was discovered that the tickets were booked – and purchased – for Tuesday, February 23.  It was too late to change the tickets, and this simply meant there was one less day the group would be in South America, one less day to prepare once they were there… it was a little frustrating, but it was just the way it would be.  And that was actually nothing compared to what was coming…

The visas.  My daughters have learned that “visa” is not just a credit card brand, but this is as important as a passport for entering some countries, as the country has to give its permission for you to come (a ticket of sorts from their country, not just one from ours).  The visa applications were submitted when they were supposed to be, and two of the group members received theirs by early January.  Then the other thirteen were denied – they needed to fill out one more paper to answer more questions before receiving government approval.  I don’t really understand what the problem was, but the group members paid necessary fees again and resubmitted the necessary information, then they waited.  And waited.  And waited.  They called the numbers they could, talked to individuals they could, visited the necessary website to check on the progress… and finally, on Thursday, February 18 they found out that the visas had been approved!  They were scheduled to be sent the next day.  <whew!>  But… on Saturday, they weren’t yet there, they were to have been sent overnight mail, but Monday, they still weren’t here. 

Then finally, at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, February 23, the visas arrived!!!  At least twelve of them arrived.  Where was number thirteen??  It had been sent with the others… and this time, it was the US Postal Service that took the blame.  Visa number 13 had been mistakenly mailed to Ohio rather than Indiana.  So here is where I give credit to the USPS – somebody from Dayton, Ohio drove the visa to Richmond, Indiana, where the next relay member delivered the special package to the airport in Indianapolis.  So all fifteen group members had their passports and visas and luggage and plane tickets… at just the right time.  Now remember the plans for the Monday tickets?  I have to think that God had the travel agent order tickets for Tuesday… if she had followed the initial instructions, the group would not have been able to go.

This reminded me a tiny bit of November, when T.R. and I were traveling to a retreat at a camp in Michigan.  I was dealing with a cough that was growing worse, but I hadn’t packed extra cough drops, and I knew the few I had wouldn’t last more than a day.  So as we neared the camp, we stopped at a gas station and purchased a pack of Hall’s.  Then we were back on the road, but there was a sudden stop… traffic was backed up quite a bit.  We found that there had been an accident – it had involved a large truck, and the other car was basically totaled.  We saw at least one ambulance pass as we made it to our destination.  If we hadn’t stopped to get cough drops, that car could have been ours… a sobering thought.

I have one more story, this one again about my wonderful parents.  Dad is a doctor and Mom a nurse, so in late October, they had gone to Haiti with FAME (Fellowship of Associates of Medical Evangelism) to work at a clinic where they had been before.  When traveling with FAME, they filled a number of pieces of luggage with donated medication: vitamins, pain relief medications, antibiotics and the like, enough to help stock the clinic for several weeks.  This time, the group brought more medication than usual – the leader at the clinic in Haiti was surprised when they left so much behind – that were twice as many antibiotics as those usually brought by the team!  …they didn’t see themselves needing that much in the weeks to come, but they were sure it could be put to use.  I don’t need to say much more here… we know why God helped those extra antibiotics to travel to Haiti.  When the capital city of Port-au-Prince was devastated by a 7.0 earthquake on January 12, this clinic was still standing… and for at least a bit of time, they had much-needed antibiotics.   The clinic, in fact, was near enough to the quake site that it ended up being a major medical support site for earthquake victims.

I’m telling these three stores as a reminder: sometimes, things that seem like small annoyances or unnecessary burdens actually have a bigger purpose than we might imagine.  A seemingly incorrect ticket could be just what you needed, and a little voice that tells you to go ahead and stop for cough drops might have another bigger purpose.  Or packing that extra bit of something… well, there could be a reason a little voice told you to stick those in.  So often, we don’t see the story behind the story, but isn’t it nice to see these small examples of how God can work?  If I was more tuned in to hear His voice, I sometimes wonder how much more He could do.  But how much is He already doing that I don’t even recognize?  A staggering thought…

2 Comments

  1. Cathy Shouse said,

    March 4, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    I enjoyed these stories and the overall message. Thank you for taking the time to share your insights.

  2. Barbara Pickut said,

    March 14, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Very encouraging! So reassuring to be reminded that there is a Plan, even when we are oblivious.


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