Sunday, March 8, 2015

“There are no 'if's' in God's world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety - let us pray that we may always know it!” ― Corrie ten Boom

In March of 1999, sixteen years ago, we should have known that we would finish our lives on this earth as missionaries. God revealed His will on that trip, but we didn’t really understand it for four more years.  Karen and I had accepted an invitation to go to Curitiba, Brazil, to do mission work with a friend of ours from college who lived there.  We didn’t have the money to go, but when our church found out about our opportunity, it raised the money in less than a week.  We would be flying on March 25th, Fayetteville (XNA) to Dallas (DFW) and then Dallas to São Paulo, Brazil, which is in southern Brazil.  Then another one hour flight to Curitiba where we would be working in the slums with a mission group from the Methodist Church there where I would also be preaching three times on the one Sunday we would be there.  The first indication that this was God’s will came in the form of snow—lots and lots of snow in Northwest Arkansas.  So much snow, so quickly, that the airport closed.  Well, we contacted the airlines and made arrangements to drive to Dallas and pick up our flight there.  We hope in our trusty SUV and slid and skidded the first thirty-five miles or so before the roads cleared and it was clear sailing to Dallas.  We took John and Keith with us, so John could drive the car back to Fayetteville.  We made the flight out of Dallas and ten hours later, landed in São Paulo.  Then, a three hour wait till our flight to Curitiba.  When we landed in Curitiba, our friend picked us up at the airport.  Then the next revelation of God’s will.  Karen realized that she had left her hair dryer in Dallas.  “No problem,” says our host, “We’ll just pick one up at Wal-Mart.”  He then took the next right turn into the parking lot of a huge Wal-Mart in Curitiba, Brazil, where Karen got a hair dryer that would work on Brazil’s electricity.  The following week was a whirlwind of working in the slums, Karen singing with the children in the schools, and me preaching in the church.  The Methodist bishop of Brazil came and even helped act out one of my skits to illustrate the sermon.  Finally, it came time to depart.  As we often do, we gave all of the money we had left to the mission project, only keeping $5.00 for our trip back to the U.S.  What need had we of money?  This was when the airlines gave you free food and drink.  We said our good-byes and flew from Curitiba back to São Paulo.  As we prepared to leave Brazil from São Paulo, we discovered that there was an exit fee to leave the country of $50.00 per person.  We needed $100.00 to get on our plane back to the U.S. and we only had $5.00.  We knew no one, and I thought we would be stranded there for days.  The final revelation of God’s will came when Karen took off her hat, undid the lining and pulled out a hundred dollar bill that she had hidden there for emergencies (and because she knew me well).  Without that $100, we might be Brazilian at this point.  We made our flight all the way back because the snow was gone just a week after it closed the airport.  The trip had been a big success, and, if we had thought about it more at the time, we would have realized that God had not only been talking to us, He had been shouting.  None so deaf as those who will not hear.  It took a few more mission trips for me and just one more to Africa for Karen—and here we are.  It all started with snow in late March in Fayetteville.  So, those of you who are living in Northwest Arkansas, “Watch out, yall.” 
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