Monday, May 19, 2008
As the truck rumbles and bumps down the narrow and unpaved Juarez street, I cannot help but think to myself in trepidation that the outcome of this particular venture will turnout to be one of discord with my personal well-being. That is to say, I was pretty sure I was going to get my ass kicked. I look to Fransisco, who sits my opposite and watch his face as the dim street lights pass on and off it as we whiz by them like the dull glow of air bombs flashing in the midnight sky of some pilot on an ill-destined raid party. He smiles nervously back, apparently thinking the same. He is preparing himself for the worst.
My mind wanders back a week earlier to the beginning of this horrid mess, and I can see the outside of the church I was working on. We had a group come from the States to help us finish some work on the new staff housing we were building. As the leader of the site, I had of course fifteen different things I was trying to manage at one time, and this particular morning was no different. Until I realized my passport was no longer in my possession, I actually remember very little about the morning other than the fact that as I slowly placed said passport into the backpack I was carrying, instead of my pocket where it would normally be and would be the most secure, I thought to myself – “Make sure you grab that later. It shouldn’t be in there.” Then, around lunch time, as I am searching for tools, I notice that I am no longer wearing that bag, and I have no idea where I set it.
That night, after several frantic searches of the church property, an interrogation session with some of the adolescent boys who had been on site that day, and a nervous phone call to the American consulate in Juarez, my mind began to have little rest as worry permeated its inner reaches like a sponge soaking in the last remnants of bile and blood from a butcher’s table. Days passed, my hope had long faded, and I cursed my psyche for its betrayal of trust in my Lord, for every morning I awoke to a fresh sensation of imprisonment. I felt a constant nagging to run from this place and never return offset by the inability to do so, because I feared I would be unable to cross back into my homeland without proper documentation. I begged God to medicate me in the Spirit, to remind me of his mercies, but these moments were few and far between. Then, as I sat praying in the dingy yet Spirit-filled kitchen of one the churches we were using, pleading with God to remind me of the Peace and Hope I am supposed to have in Him, the impossible happened. One of the interns I was working with, walked in holding the primitive looking Mexican cell phone, and stared at me in bewilderment.
“We found your passport!” She said.
“Someone called A--- (a community friend) from the phone you had in the bag!!! They found your bag in a store somewhere!! They want to meet to return it!!!”
My mind snaps back to the moment as my nose stings from the thick dust caused by the truck coming to a halting stop. From the front, I can see a child standing cradling his small rusty bike. He comes to the side window asking who we are looking for. By this time, the road has gone to the outskirts of the neighborhood, and the street lights have ended. He motions for us to follow him, and we creep along slowly behind continuing to anticipate the outcome of this horrid situation. As we pull up to the dimly lit barrio home, Fransisco and I turn to face it with our guards raised. Without warning, seven or eight large stalky Mexican men begin to file out from the woodwork, each from a different part to stand at the pallet made fence.
My heart begins to race, and I wait for something to happen, and soon the crowd parts as a frumpy, worn, middle-aged Mexican woman comes to the front. This is Maria, the woman we had been unsuccessfully trying to meet for nearly a week now since she first contacted our community friend. She hesitantly hands the bag over, sheepishly admitting that her family had pressured her to sell the passport on the black market, and accepts the meager reward I offer to her and her husband. We make small talk for a bit – a lovely exchange. Then we leave grateful for the protection granted to us. Later that night, I hold the passport in my hands, and my eyes begin to well with joyful tears, not at any sentiment of relief or weak hearted-ness really, but at the glorified name of Christ who gives dew and sun to the lily as well as sustenance to his beloved.
And as the new sun rises the next morning on what would have beeen my continued accursed mind, His Spirit gently flows into my own like the small trickle of water running down hill from a heap of snow in the brisk spring of the Colorado mountains, and He gently reminds me that as Psalms states -
“Blessed is the man who trusts in you.” – Psalms 84