Left town a little after 10 on a sunny, Thursday morning. Dropped off the dog and got on our way. Plane left O'hare airport around 6am, making an early Friday for us. And don't forget to arrive well ahead of time! Two and a half hours in drive seemed best to land the day before.
Grabbed lunch at a dine in Ottawa. The sky had now darkened and the rain was setting in. Place had a little bit of everything. Ordered an app of the Greek descent – cheese, set on fire before us (the name escapes me). Holly had a plate of fancified fruits and vegetables. I requested an Italian beef sandwich. Dipped in Au jus, an additional masterpiece to an already delicious sandwich!
Hotel was decent. Just needed a place to crash for the night. The bonus was that they allowed you to park your car while you traveled – not free, but at a reasonable rate. Had a restaurant on hand, which we made well of. The bar was open till 4am. We arose early enough to say hey to some of those folks as they hobbled out. One gentleman voiced some drama around the abuse of his blow up pillow or mattress – I cannot remember which. Some of his more coherent cohorts advised him that Walmart could help him out at no large expense. This didn't seem to settle things… We took the shuttle to the airport, less than ten minutes away. Wheels left the runway and I was beginning to feel the thrill of adventure. Today, we would be in Mexico!
Hello Houston! The cut off man for our 2-piece travel. And although the arrival was smooth sailing, the exit consisted of what felt like a series of over compensations as our plane slithered side to side, stealing full width of the runway upon take off. Threw me for a loop when we didn't land at 11am Central Time like our ticket had stated. I couldn't help but wonder if perhaps we lost a wheel and were not prepared to settle down. Turns out, daylight savings time does not transpire as early as it does in the States. Who knew? Probably many.
Migration was a cinch. Grabbed our bags and exchanged currency. In the process, my good friend and front man of FX Missions, Scott, snuck up on us. He and some others had arrived a day or two previous. They were there to transport the new arrivals to our place of stay. It was great to see him again!
La Quemada! Our town of destination. A one hour tour from the airport in Leon – an old hacienda, well into the process of refurbishing. This is where we'd be settling in. It was our second time there and so we experienced a wonderful renewal of senses upon our entry. Got to know some new folks on the car ride to, Darren and Susan, a lovely couple from Southeast Texas. Was great getting to hear how the Lord has been living through them. Appreciate those guys!
It might seem strange that one would go all the way to Mexico for a leadership retreat. Right? And what is a mission's trip supposed to look like? While we're on the topic, we may as well ask, “What is Church?” Be it a series of meetings? I hope that sounds boring to you. And yet, this is how most of us proceed – one meeting to the next. Worship (check). Message (check). Alter call (check). “Thank you for coming! Great worship! Great message! Stay tuned till next time! Still need help in children's ministry.”
I don't wish to impute redundancy on it. Please don't hear me saying that. Though a healthy part of our weekly spiritual activity, I simply don't read the Bible as a series of #meetings. In fact, Jesus, the King of discipleship, led His men on a series of #journeys. Lord only knows what that looked like in full. I'm a huge fan in wonder of the things the Word does not speak. The lines in between, what lie there? What did bro time look like for those guys as they traveled? Campfires? Convo? I'll bet it was rich! Oh, to go back in time… Perhaps we don't have to?
If the suspense isn't killing us, is it possible we are either not yet or no longer alive? I don't mean to pretend. I'm generally caught off just as much as the next. Fresh example: We visited the World famous city, San Miguel. On the return, Scott asked Holly and me to ride with him so as to ask us some things that were on his heart. One of which was “where did we see ourselves going in missions?” And “what kind of things did we hope to contribute”. I remember fumbling in thought. I offered “speaking” and “prophecy” – almost blurting the word “servanthood”, that generic, overused Christianese slur that we use to make ourselves sound good. And yet something inside desires to serve, but lacks a reality in knowing how to skirt the barriers of this classic system we call Christendom. Again, I do say that all these attributes are good, and yet I feel something deeper within, a struggle that screams, “There's more!”
Scott has stated in his trip briefing that the retreat was not meeting-centric. This was true. And I believe it was because of that, that we had no hardship in receiving the Lord's presence of greater intensity when we did meet. God loves people. Sometimes He shows up simply due to that fact. We certainly felt His love in a very, very tangible way in one of our meetings. I am grateful for that! The only difficulty for me was just to be in the moment. My mind was forever revelating and wanted to write it all down. I didn't. Thank you, Jesus.
Did a little ministry. We were able to prophesy over the congregation – a Church affiliated to the gracious men and women of the hacienda; Joaquin and his wife, Chris and Jessica, their kids. Everybody got a word or two and the Lord seemed to really be moving upon people. I'm certain it was more powerful than what I am aware. My favorite part of the trip was simply being in a foreign nation, doing life together under the banner of a leadership retreat, alongside other cultures, and feeling as though I were no foreigner at all. That's what I imagine Heaven to feel like. I guess you could surmise that Heaven came down. And for that, I would not hesitate to return. Yes, it was a very good trip!