Hetty, Natalia, Cecilia and Irais stand waiting with their suitcases outside the double glass doors of the Belizean Northern Border Office of Customs and Immigration. They are on their way to work in two separate mission projects in Queretaro and Nuevo Leon, Mexico.
Is this place even open today? I wonder silently. Nothing stirs but a slight ocean breeze, and things seem unusually dead, even for a Sunday. Not a single taxi is in sight, and the MOVE pickup is the only vehicle in the parking lot! Lyli and I are waiting to make sure the girls can get through before we leave, otherwise they will have a long walk back to Corozal, the nearest town on this side of the border.
Finally, an officer pokes her head out the double doors.
“You need to wear your masks and observe proper social distancing!” she scolds before retreating into the building. Another officer soon appears.
“Names and passports!” He demands. “Do you have the letter of permission from the Chief of Foreign Affairs?”
“We wrote to him last Thursday, but we never received a reply,” Irais answers.
The officer shakes his head emphatically.
“You should have called him on Friday when you saw you had no answer!” the lady officer is back outside and also back to her scolding.
“Could you give us a number for the Minister of Foreign Affairs?”
“Yes, but it is only an office number and will do you no good today!”
From my vantage on a covered bench across the road I can’t hear the rest of the conversation, but I can see the girls are asking questions, and the officers just keep shaking their heads. A few minutes later the girls come back dragging their luggage and the matter seems settled: “no can do! You shall not pass today!”
The girls would be okay with that, but unfortunately, they have already purchased their flight from Chetumal, the city just across the border, to Mexico City for tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock. Even if they stay the night in Corozal and try to cross in the morning, unless they are able to cross by six or seven at the latest, there is no way they will make their flight.
Cecilia calls the airlines. No, they cannot cancel the flight without penalty. Yes, they can change the flight for the difference in fare price. When is the next available flight? Not until August first! That is over a month from now!
“Why don’t you write again to the Chief of Foreign Affairs and tell him you are waiting at the border?” I suggest. “Of course, it would be nothing short of a miracle if he checks his email on a Sunday, and even a greater miracle if he decides to answer it!”
About this time a car passes by and the well-intentioned driver is kind enough to roll down his window and give us some advice:
“You might as well go back!” he says. “Immigration is closed today. You won’t be able to do anything until tomorrow morning at 8 o’clock!”
I am tempted to tell him that we are friends with the Chief Immigration Officer—the One who opened the impenetrable border between heaven and a sin-stricken world and who specializes in opening what is impossibly shut! If He wants these girls to travel today, they will! But then again, sometimes God leaves us to the consequences of our lack of due diligence in preparing ahead of time. Maybe this will be one of those times. I just say “Thanks,” smile and wave.
Lyli meanwhile calls the girls together and prays that God will put it in the heart of the Chief of Foreign Affairs to check his email and send the necessary permission this afternoon. It is well past lunch time now. Cecilia and Nathalia decide to stay at the border while Lyli and I take the other girls back to Corozal to buy food and to show them the house of an Adventist sister who has offered to put them up for the night if needed.
We are on our way back out to the border when Irais suddenly gasps in surprise. “I got an email from the Chief of Foreign Affairs! He sent the permission!” The girls squeal with joy and relief. God answered our prayer! He impressed a government official to check his work email on a Sunday, and softened his heart to give a prompt and positive answer!
Within the hour, Lyli and I watch as the girls cross the Belizean border and make their way to the Mexican border control where they pass with only minor delays.
God has sent all of us with an essential message of warning and hope to a world that is about to perish. What seemingly impossible obstacles are holding you back from fulfilling your calling? Whatever they are, do not linger in fear and doubt. God is more than willing and able to open the way for you to work. The hearts of governors and kings he holds in His hands, as the rivers of water: he turns them wherever He will. (Proverbs 21:1). Only move forward in faith, trusting in Him who is the Living Way, who opens and no man can shut, and shuts and no man can open.
P.S. The four girls from this story all arrived safely to their mission stations where they are happily serving in health, education, and personal evangelism. In the attached photo pictured from front to back are: Irais, Cecilia, Hetty and Nathalia. Irais is a previous MOVE graduate who has been in the mentorship program this year. The other three girls are all part of generation 13, this year’s class session.
Kody & Lyli Kostenko