One of the great things about knowing God is that you have family everywhere!
Last Sunday night, Shannan and I took the red eye: Miami to Saõ Paulo, Brazil via Santiago, Chile. It was "one of those trips." Sunday morning started early (4:00 a.m.) so after church we were hoping for an afternoon catnap before the all-nighter on Flight 503. What we got instead was a mad dash to pay bills, book seats (we ended up claiming seats A&C on row 39 of 40), buy new luggage (we found a broken zipper on the old suitcase when we pulled it out of the attic), pack for a Brazilian winter, and hustle down to Miami International.
To appreciate the rest of our evening you need to know that Shannan and I are baby magnets. We love children, but somehow crying babies have a way of finding us. This normally happens at restaurants, especially when we get away for a quiet dinner. On Sunday it happened on row 39. There we were, 10:30 p.m., facing 14 hours of flying time, and who sets up camp in the middle seats of rows 38 and 39? A beautiful family with three little girls. Two of their darlings were one-year-old twins who . . . let's say . . . did not have the best night! There was lots of crying.
We arrived in Chile, disembarked, and quickly made our way through the airport for the Saõ Paulo connection. This time we parked in "quieter" seats and settled in for a few more hours at 35,000 feet. Finally, at 1:35 p.m. on Monday afternoon -- touchdown! We passed through immigration, waited for our final piece of luggage to grudgingly crawl out on the conveyor belt, cleared customs, and walked out the door.
Normally, there would have been more work to do: find a rental car, navigate traffic in one of the world's biggest cities, locate our hotel, get something to eat, and do all of this using my Portuguese, which is slightly less intelligible than that of a one-year old.
But on this day, all our troubles disappeared. No sooner did we step across that threshold than we stepped into the loving embrace of our friend Hilder and his daughter, Bruna. Our extended family! Hurry, hassles, and headaches were gone in an instant. Hilder and his wife, Rosely, treated us like royalty. We ate their food, slept under their roof, rode in their car, and most of all enjoyed their company. As I reflected on their hospitality, I was reminded of Jesus' promise to his disciples:
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God." Peter began to say to him, "See, we have left everything and followed you." Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first." (Mark 10:27-31 ESV)
I believe what God says, but on this trip the reality of Jesus' promise became so much more than words on a page. Hilder, Rosely, Bianca, Bruna, and Guilherme were God's reminder that no matter where I travel, I have extended family -- and that you and I are that family for others!