After a month in Central America, my family and I arrived back in the United States on the afternoon of December 29, 2016. It was good to be home in the United States once again, even though the Miami airport into which we flew still featured English as occasional tongue of a minute minority. Deciphering the accent of the rental car agent in Miami was almost as difficult as communicating with Guatemalans: at least you expected them to speak Spanish. The heavily accented "English" was a challenge indeed.
In fact, our arrival back in United States presented us with a long sequence of events, the consequences of which still affect our lives. The wait for a rental car in Miami was almost as long as the flight from Guatemala City. And they didn't give give us a drink, snack, or seat like the airline did. We were finally able to get a rental car and drive across the peninsula to the Gulf side where our trailer awaited us in North Port.
On the way across Florida, we stopped by a Sprint store to try to get Sarah's cell phone working again. That was when we discovered that someone had stolen our credit card information and used it for fraudulent purchases in Michigan during our absence. The credit card company, sensing something was not right, then canceled the cell phone payment causing us to be overdue. The service was cut off due to a lack of payment.
After a long trip across Florida complete with its bad news, we finally arrived in North Port where our trailer was parked. A Russian speaking church rents this church's facility from them, and although the midweek service was complete, choir practice was ongoing when we arrived. It usually goes until 10:00 pm, we were told. We would have to wait until they were gone to set up our trailer so that we could finally get to bed. No problemo -- we would just get the trailer all ready to move so that as soon as the last note was dying off, we would chase everyone out of the parking lot and park the trailer where all the choir members' cars were currently parked. While attempting to hook up the truck and trailer, we discovered that the trailer battery was, after a full month of being unplugged from any type of power source, DEAD. The trailer jacks refused to budge in any direction due to the lack of power. This necessitated a frenzied search for the extension cords in the darkened bays, barked orders at small minions to "hold the flashlight where I can see," and a good deal of scrabbling around in small spaces. Finally the appropriate cords were found, outlets located, and the jacks received enough power to attach to the truck. Still, the Russians sang on, oblivious to the drama outside. In the end, I jumped the gun and asked the Russians to move 15 minutes early. We finally got to bed around 11:00 that night.
When we finally did get the trailer set up, everyone began unpacking their bags. We found that our children had apparently decided that their cheap souvenirs were more important than the clothing they took with them to Guatemala. This was deduced by the large number of articles left behind. The news was received rather mildly, probably due to the fact that we were numb with fatigue. We patted the children on the head, gave them candy, and sent them to bed, congratulating them on the fact that they hadn't exceeded the airline's luggage weight limits.
Now, as we leave 2016 behind, and look forward to 2017, we have so many things for which to be grateful. The Lord kept us safe in our travels, and blessed us with good health and several ministry opportunities. We made new friends, and had many new experiences. We are grateful for everyday things that we tend to take for granted here in the states - hot, running water, drinkable water, washing machines, traffic patterns and good roads, to name a few!
We are still experiencing a bit of reverse culture shock as we adjust to life in the States again (I keep answering people in Spanish when they ask me a question), and we are really looking forward to hearing church services in our own language again. Thank you all for your prayers for us regarding this trip. God had His hand of blessing and protection upon us, and we thank Him for this amazing opportunity to minister in a foreign country.