Greetings! The plans were set and the excitement was great. After three years I was going “home” on a delayed vacation trip to see my mother, who was very sick, and my three brothers in Brazil. I checked, doubled checked, and checked again for the third time before buying the air ticket for that trip. The airline company’s agents assured me that I would not have any problem to fly from Canada to Brazil and back on the same route via the USA during these challenging times. Well, we spent time together as a family and took our mother to three specialists. We also witnessed her happiness and health improvement; I firmly believe this was so because of seeing her four sons together. Then, the unexpected happened regarding my travel. The gist of it was I would not be allowed to return from Brazil to Canada, via the USA. I discovered this only few days prior to my travel back to Canada.
Everything changed drastically. I spent the next few days on the internet and phone trying to find a “route” that would bring me back to Canada. I realized that the world had become a small island due to COVID-19. Brazil was a part of the 33 countries listed on a USA Presidential order which included South Africa, Germany, Italy, France, UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, etc, and anyone who had been in those countries for the past 14 days could not enter the USA, even as a transit passenger. I had nowhere else to go because the direct flights between Canada and Brazil had been temporarily suspended. I could not go to Europe, Africa, Asia, or Australia to reach Canada later, either – it was agonizing! What could I do? I prayed and asked the Lord to take care of that situation. In the meantime, I returned to work online from where I was. As Brazil is 4 hours ahead of the BC time, sometimes I had meetings until 2:00 am or so. No problem; it was a joy to carry on with my duties.
My whole family in Canada and Brazil joined me in prayer for a solution. I missed my wife and children, but there was nothing that any of us could do. Our needs are God’s opportunities to reveal His love and plan for us. Suddenly, a solution came up. Mexico was allowing Brazilian folks to enter the country. I bought the air ticket and waited for the time of my flight while eagerly praying for Mexico not to close its border. On the day of my trip, I was upgraded and flew in a more spacious class (no extra charge – God never rests!) and had an enjoyable trip from Sao Paulo to Mexico City. However, the plan to go to Mexico included having to stay there for 14 days, prior to flying to the USA and then making my way to Canada. Those were long but special days and I continued to work from my hotel room. The Mexican people are very friendly!
After completing those required days there, I flew from Mexico City to Seattle, via Phoenix. I became anxious though because my COVID-19 test result in Mexico was released only on the previous night of my flight to the USA and it did not include my date of birth on it as required by the airline company. I did not have time to deal with that at that stage. I simply prayed that somehow that would not be an issue at the airport. Normally, I cannot eat when I am nervous. That day was not different. The line at the airport was huge. After waiting for over an hour, it was my time to approach the airline check in desk. The agent looked at all my documents and simply smiled to me saying that everything was okay and checked me in – Praise the Lord! After going through immigration, I decided to eat something before boarding the plane. I was hungry but only ordered a salad. Unfortunately, it did not sit well in my stomach. While in the plane, I noticed that my head was dizzy and I was getting nauseous. About 30 minutes before landing in Phoenix, I could not hold it anymore. I went to the washroom and threw up. I was concerned; I had just done my 4th COVID-19 test two days prior and now… . I prayed to the Lord for my health. I left the washroom and returned to my seat as a new person. My dizziness and the nausea
A good friend of mine was willing to take me from Bellingham to Sumas where I could legally cross the border on foot that evening. First, he took me to the mall and was very kind to keep my luggage in his car as he went back home for some work-related Zoom meetings. I was not in a hurry because my wife was working at the hospital on that day and could only pick me up on the Canadian side after 8:30 pm. God had a plan! My friend’s meetings were delayed – God allowed that for a reason. By the time my friend came to pick me up at the mall, the Uber trip which would initially cost me nearly US$260.00 had dropped to US$59.00. I could afford that. I did not want to bother my friend after his long day of work to embark on a trip from Bellingham to Sumas and back home just to drop me off at the border. I missed the opportunity to chat with him a bit more (I had not seen him for over a year), but I did not want him to be inconvenienced. We said goodbye and I boarded the Uber car that came to pick me up.
I was overly excited to be coming home, and I asked the Uber driver if I could pray for that trip. He agreed and that sparked a good interaction for the next 50 minutes. He asked me if I was a Christian and what I did for a living, etc. That slowly provided me opportunities to carry on the conversation. He noticed that I was tired and asked me about my trip. I gave him a 7 minute-version of all of it and that allowed me to talk about the condition of the world. Long story short: He asked several questions; and I had the chance to share my faith with him, my major beliefs in the Bible, and how God, through Jesus, would soon fix all the misery that sin had brought about. Upon arriving in Sumas, one block before the border, he told me that I had no idea how much my trip story and our conversation had impacted him positively. I prayed for him and his family and we said goodbye to each other.
Now, after two months away from Canada and being “in the wilderness”, I was finally coming home! I was about to cross the USA-Canada border on foot with my luggage. I sincerely felt like a wanderer coming to a new land with his/her heart full of and hope, dreams, and searching for a better life! This was more than that – God had reserved another divine appointment for me. The Canadian Immigration officer who attended me was extremely kind and hospitable. He also noticed that I was tired and asked me for my passport and COVID-19 test. He saw me sorting through all those COVID-19 tests I had done during my trip while I was looking for the last one. I had done those tests in Canada (pre-departure), Brazil, Mexico, and USA. In the process, he asked me about my trip through those countries. It was 11:05 pm and everything was very quiet. I shared with him the same 7 minute-version as I did with the Uber driver. He stood speechless, and then he said: “You need to write a book about this experience of yours. When you do that, please let me know and I will be the first one to buy a copy of that book!”. Afterward, he looked into my eyes and stated: “Welcome back to Canada, our home!”. After hearing those words, I could not control my emotions anymore and tears started to roll down from my eyes. The words “Welcome home” had not sounded so sweet and desirable in my ears for a long time! He directed me to the place where I did the 5th COVID-19 test of my trip and from there I went home with my beloved wife who was waiting for me on the Canadian soil. I still needed to quarantine at home for another 14 days and take one more COVID-19 test. That was the 7Th COVID-19 test when considering the one I did in January this year when my throat was a bit sore. All of them were negative and never had that word sounded so positive and encouraging in my life – Praise God!
Conclusion: Despite all that was mentioned above, I never regretted what I had to face (unforeseen) just to be with my mother – she “gave me life” and raised me to love and serve the Lord! Yes, God cares about us and He hears our prayers. We are all wanderers in this world which is not our home. Sin has marred God’s creation for a while, but Jesus has paid the price for our sins and given us the right to go to our eternal home with Him. I can only imagine how much sweeter will it be to personally meet with Jesus Christ when we “cross the border”into the Heavenly Canaan and hear from our Saviour’s lips the words: “Welcome home, my children!” I pray that we all will be there! (I Thess. 4:16-18 / Rev. 21:1-5)
Please find below two links to our Conference newest video: “Rob & Bethany: Building God’s Community”. One is shorter (5:51 min) and the other version includes a beautiful song (9:30 min). They are living and working diligently to plant a church in Squamish, an area with no Adventist presence. God is using them in an amazing way, even during this pandemic. Please keep them in your prayers! I am also including the link to our latest REACH Magazine – wonderful news and messages!
https://online.fliphtml5.com/ujuw/krli/ (REACH Magazine)
Thank you for your faithful service to God’s children!
In His Service,