Sunday 7:15 a.m.: Greetings from Ciudad Juarez municipal airport. This is not the kind of airport that Americans usually navigate. There’s very little here to support an English speaker. So I’m having cultural immersion today. My hosts who brought me to the airport said they will stay at the airport until my plane takes off, just to be sure there’s no problem or delay to complicate my day. Way sweet. They told me on the way here that the crime situation in Juarez is remarkably different from what it was a few years ago. Corruption was rampant, and at one point 20+ people a day were being murdered, many of them execution style — as an example to other businesses that you needed to pay the cartels in order to stay alive in your business. The government sent a man in who turned the thing around. First, he sent all his family to the USA. Then he set up shop and began to clean house, which meant sending a lot of police and military personnel to jail. In the end, in an attempt to kill him, they paralyzed him for life. But Juarez is much more orderly now. My translator told me that one time he came here with a friend, the police pulled them over for going 3 mph over the speed limit, and the cop said, “We can work this out.” The driver said, “Give me my ticket, I will pay it.” The cop kept saying, “We can work this out.” They had to convince the cop to give them a ticket, rather than paying him a bribe. But now things are much better. So here I am in the Juarez airport, where people are standing all over the place because there isn’t enough room in the gate seating area for everyone to have a seat. I rarely drive into Mexico, I usually fly in, so this morning we had a procedure I’m not accustomed to: We pulled over at the border, went inside the Customs office, and filled out paperwork for my entry. It was a wise move, because now I can travel freely without being questioned, I have the right paperwork on my person. Today is a travel adventure, smile.
Sunday 6:30 pm: Greetings from Chihuahua airport, where I am checked in and waiting for my plane to arrive. My impression from the monitors is that my flight is delayed nearly an hour. It’s a short one-hour flight to Juarez. Then a 40-minute drive to my El Paso hotel. And then an early Monday departure out of El Paso. No problem, I know how to sleep on airplanes, smile. Had two excellent services this morning. I brought a different message in each service, and both times it seemed that the Holy Spirit was helping the people to connect with the word. Fabulous saints! Then they treated me to a marvelous dinner. I’m coming home full in every way.