It was December 11th, 2016 and we were going back to Panama! Outreach was finally over and we were pooped (Pardon my language). We flew from the La Paz to Santa Cruz to catch our second plane that left for Panama at 2:00 a.m. Our initial plan was to get to Panama and stay there for a week so we could go to the DTS students’ graduation and then fly back to the states.
The team had all gone through registration and it was our turn to get our mountain of bags checked in. So we waited, and waited, and waited, but mom and dad were still talking to the airport guy (I don’t think we ever caught that guy’s name). It turned out, that my passport was expiring in 2 months and the minimum to enter into panama is 3 months, so I couldn’t get in to Panama (basically it means I was illegal in every country except the United States). After the airport guy left to go do something, Dad started shooting ideas to mom, as to whether or not mom and I would stay in Bolivia, and Dad take the rest of the kids back to Panama. Or we stay in Bolivia, and let the team go to Panama without us. Right now, we’re in an airport setting with lots of people talking, shouting, and making a bunch of noise. But finally, mom and dad made a decision for us to stay in Bolivia, and let the team go back to Panama.
We gathered the team and told them about the situation, it also meant that we wouldn’t see some of the DTS (discipleship training school) students again. After a tearful goodbye, (for some people) the DTS group left to go catch their flight.
But our story is far from over. All the kids were asleep (now 3:00 a.m.) taking up two large booths in a restaurant and somebody had to watch the luggage, that responsibility fell on yours truly. So Mom, Dad, and I basically had an all-nighter (and not the fun kind where you spend the whole night playing Halo). I was in charge of watching over baggage, so in order not to get bored I goose-stepped back and forth in front of the mountain of bags and watched the second Hobbit on a near-by T.V (in Spanish). Mom got special permission to go behind the desk and talked with the airline so we could get our flights connected. Dad was trying to get to mom and they refused to let him back in the office with her because of security reasons. So dad had no idea where Mom was and he became a bit upset with the security officer. He wanted to make sure Mom was ok. So Dad calmed down because he thought a Bolivian jail would only make logistics worse in our present situation. I had no desire to become then man of the house.
There was no direct flights to United States so we had to make a stop in Panama City. The Panamanian government like most governments let us go through their airport long enough to catch the connecting flights to Houston and then to Northwest Arkansas. But we had to wait two days in Bolivia until the plane left for Panama. By the time we were done making plans at the airport, it was 6:00 o’clock in the morning. We got a taxi to a hotel in Santa Cruz, Bolivia and hung out at the hotel until we left for Panama two days later. We got into Arkansas at 8:00 in the evening the next day. We were finally home after nine months! God was faithful, and you can never say we live a boring life.