Romans 12:12. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
A few years ago, I had flown to Mazatlán to help Dave make the 24-hour drive back to Fort Scott. This time we remembered where most of the faulty toll road signs were located, saving ourselves our typical, “Where are we and how do we get back on the highway?” frustration which had, in the past, cost us a few additional hours of travel.
It was my turn to drive. About 30 miles from the border, Dave and I began discussing which of the two entry points we should use: Columbia, smaller and less popular but fifteen minutes further, or Nuevo Laredo, closer but much larger. When a truck with Texas plates passed us, I took it as an omen to follow that driver. We would trust the Texan to know the quicker route.
He opted for Laredo. Following him gave me great comfort because the various signs were confusing, not to mention the curves and turns and multiple stop lights. The only thing we knew was that the United States was to the north, the right.
But then the lead car turned left. Not the way to the border. Probably the way to the drug cartel. We were now on our own. Hope. Patience. Prayer.
Three stop lights later, I rolled down my window and asked the driver in the next lane if he could point us to the border. “Follow me,” he said, and I did. My husband noticed the man was driving on an emergency spare tire, a dangerous way to enter America, if you ask me. Several stop lights later, our new amigo exited his car and ran back to my window. “Go right at the next corner,” he said, and with that, he pulled into an XOXO, the Mexico version of Quik Trip. “Poor guy limped along as far as he could to help us,” I told Dave. “Or that’s where he was headed the entire time,” I was told.
Someone was cranky. Still, Hope. Patience. Prayer.
I made a right turn, and there we were—completely lost. No matter what U.S.-tagged car I trailed, none were headed to Texas. Zigging and zagging, I managed to tick off several Mexicans who typically are used to drivers making illegal U-turns. By now we had spent an hour on this, our “quicker” trip, and my hope, patience and prayer had disappeared.
About the time I was ready to park our van in the middle of the street and make Dave drive, we rounded a corner, and there they were: toll booths. We were close. Handing the lady my pesos, I asked, “United States?” I’m sure she wanted to answer, “No, Dummy. It’s France,” but Mexicans don’t have the same propensity to sarcasm like we Americans– or perhaps she noticed I was close to tears–so she smiled and said, “Si.”
I would like to tell you that was the end of my lesson in hope, patience and prayer. Not even close. For over an hour we jockeyed with hundreds of other cars, vying for the quickest toll booth, only to end up with Barney Fife for our border agent. After answering his “Do you have any fruits or vegetables?” question with, “Yes, we have some apples,” we were told, “That’s not good.” We were to open all our doors so he could inspect what other contraband or people we had hidden in our vehicle.
I threatened to jump out of my car and warn the unfortunate drivers who had picked my lane to choose any booth but this one, but Dave told me that we were close to crossing the border and if I showed my true colors, we were going to get arrested, so I needed to be patient.
Let’s see. Get arrested or show patience. I’d call it a tie.