Some people like to skip to the end of a book to find out the ending before they have even started reading the beginning. I think people like that are silly, but I know you're out there so I'm going to make it easy for you and give you the bottom line right now: we got our stuff out of customs today and it only cost us 5000 pesos (approx. $115 Canadian).
And now for the rest of the story...
I have a friend named Joe. He lives down the street and he's on fire for God. Now I know that sounds like a cheesy charismatic cliche, so let me qualify it. I have sat down with him a couple of times and listened as he's shared his heart. This guy loves Jesus, and he has an insatiable hunger for the presence of God. The Lord has taken Joe on an incredible journey, and every time he thinks he couldn't possibly desire God anymore, the Lord takes him deeper and causes him to hunger and thirst even more.
Joe has told me with tears in his eyes about his desire to be a carrier of His presence. All this guy wants is to be in communion with God. I want to be like Joe. I want to want what he wants. Joe continues to ask God for more, and as we know, God answers prayer. And therein lies the rub...
You see, a few nights ago as I was sitting and listening to Joe, I prayed a very dangerous prayer. I asked the Lord to break me open, the way he had broken Joe. I told God that I wanted to be desperate too. Oops...
As you were probably aware, we have been jumping through hoops for several days, trying to keep up with the customs officers who seem to be forever changing the rules. This morning I got a text from Matt, the director of the school and the man who holds my hand (figuratively, though he did literally hold my hand once during orientation). I awoke to a text message that stated that we would have to pay 40,000 pesos in duty in order to pick up our cargo ($930, nearly an entire month's budget). That is a rough way to wake up.
My wife had just gone to sleep an hour before I got up (she worked the overnight shift last night). My only thought was that I had better get this fixed before she woke up, or it would be a very very bad day. I had prayed that God would make me desperate, but I didn't think he would answer my prayer this way.
I have learned that everything is a waiting game in this country. It was early in the morning and Matt had made phone calls to some important people who might be able to help get us an exemption. This left me feeling powerless with way too much time on my hands. I suspect that's just the way God likes it.
There was nothing left for me to do, so I prayed. I haven't prayed like that in a long time. I was tired of trying to do everything on my own. I was desperate for Him to intervene. It was a far cry from Joe's desperation for the presence of God (all I was desperate for was my cargo), but it seemed like a good first step.
Long story short: I got a call from Matt, we went down to the customs office to meet a guy who had been instructed to help us. As far as I can tell, the instruction came from the Majority House Leader in congress, so this customs broker was quite eager to assist us. He and our other broker worked together and were able to secure us an exemption on the duty. We even got a deal on the brokerage fees, so the final cost was only 5000 pesos ($115).
Thanks to Matt, who was incredibly gracious and long-suffering as he drove me all over the city this week. Thank you all for your prayers. This entire customs process was certainly a pain in my posterior, but at least it brought me to my knees. I know it's a dangerous prayer, but I will continue to ask the Lord to break me.
Below are some pictures of me unpacking my guitar. I am filled with glee. Bethany is very excited about our cargo and we have already unpacked everything and put it in its rightful place.