The Lost Suitcase – International Travel Tips – Part I

Honduras – October 23, 1988

“Jesus came and spoke unto them,…..Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

I have just arrived in Honduras to join my first medical mission trip. We changed planes in Miami, but my suitcase didn’t make the transfer, so all I have is my carry on bag. I put in an extra pair of underwear and an extra blouse, my Bible, and little else. Dr. Paul, our medical director, led our group in devotions this morning before we boarded the old school bus to travel over muddy dirt roads 70 miles through the mountains to the villages where we will hold free clinics. We all sang joyfully, “This is the day that the Lord has made!” He then read Matthew 28:20 and encouraged us to remember Jesus was with us, be flexible, and smile! He then led us in prayer, and we committed the day to the Lord.

We bumped along about 5 miles per hour and enjoyed getting acquainted with one another. I never appreciated the smooth paved roads we have in the USA so much as I did today! At the top of the mountain, our bus started leaning and became stuck in about 12 inches of mud! Everybody got out to help push! We managed to push it out, but the mud was like quicksand and sucked my only pair of shoes (loafers-big mistake) right off my feet! I dove down in the mud and pulled them out. I climbed back on the bus in my stocking feet totally covered in mud.

Honduras bus stuck in the mud! Everyone helped push it out, and I lost my only shoes. 1988

Honduras bus stuck in the mud! Everyone helped push it out, and I lost my only shoes. 1988

We arrived at a boarding school where  I took a cold shower and we slept in bunk beds. It’s about 50 degrees tonight. Someone loaned me a pair of scrubs and clean socks. One of the dentists gave me a toothbrush, and a nurse gave me a pair of ear plugs. She kindly brought a whole bag for us newbies. I found out the countryside is noisy because the dogs bark until 2 a.m. and roosters start crowing at 5 a.m!

I check each patient's blood pressure and share the gospel with them.

I check each patient’s blood pressure and share the gospel with them.

I traveled the next day in a small pickup truck with a kind man who hauled the luggage to the clinic site. We did lots of pantomime since I only know a few words of Spanish and he knows no English. Smiles go a long ways!

Only one doctor and I arrived at the clinic. The rest of the team is in a cattle truck and apparently delayed. So I began checking blood pressures and triaging the throngs of patient waiting for us at the village school. This continued to be my assignment the rest of the week. I shared John 3:16 in Spanish with each patient and gave them a gospel of John while the village pastor shared the gospel with the crowds while they waited.

My lost suitcase amazingly showed up in the Honduran village after one week!

My lost suitcase amazingly showed up in the Honduran village after one week!

I had been borrowing scrubs to wear all week and the village ladies kindly washed them out for me and hung them up to dry. Friday, I looked up the dirt road and could not believe my eyes! Our mission director was walking down the road with my red suitcase! I never thought I would see that suitcase again. I was amazed how I had survived an entire week without it, and how God had wonderfully provided for me. I then realized how little I really needed to survive. “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Reflection – 2014

I just returned from a two week vacation in Ecuador with a lady from my church who is fluent in Spanish and very well traveled. She said she learned many travel hints from me and encouraged me to share them with you, which I will do next week.

I was rereading my first travel journal from 1978 which has a leatherette cover embossed with “Trip Abroad”. The first few pages give general travel hints and carefully explain how to take Traveler’s Checks in small denominations and Letters of Credit from your bank to prove you have sufficient funds for large checks. Thankfully, those days are past and ATM cards work around the world giving you cash in the local currency. Until next week… Hasta luega!!

Ecuador Pacific Sunset, Puerto Lopez - 2014

Ecuador Pacific Sunset, Puerto Lopez – 2014

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