My First Missions Trip: Pemba Mozambique (Day 2-3 of 14)

Continuing from the first part of the series [Mission Possible: Pemba, Mozambique (Part One)] My first flight from Sacramento was to Los Angeles, and that wasn’t so bad for me. At the Los Angeles airport, the amount of check points I had to go through was insane; my passport was probably checked about 3-4 times before I got to my departure gate. My second flight was from Los Angeles to Amsterdam; at this point I started having a panic attack because I realized that I was about to leave the country for the first time, and if that wasn’t bad enough, it was on my own.

Over only a short period of time, I got a migraine headache, and started getting very dizzy. Then for a split second, the room started spinning around, and I almost passed out, but I closed my eyes and was somehow able to pull myself together. “Did I not eat, am I thirsty?” I thought to myself while trying to figure out what was happening to me. I had already eaten and drank water recently, so I knew that it wasn’t a natural problem, but instead it was a spiritual attack.

After I realized this, I closed my eyes and began to pray over myself. I commanded my headache to go away in the name of Jesus, and within 30 minutes or less, my severe head was completely gone. As the clock ticked closer to the departure time shown on my ticket, I began to wonder why my plane hadn’t showed up yet. Then I heard the flight attendant over the loud speaker say, “We regret to inform you, but the Amsterdam flight has been delayed by 2 hours due to necessary repairs.”

When the plane finally arrived, I left for Amsterdam. In Amsterdam I realized that I only had a short time to make it to my next flight (due to my last flight being two hours late), so I ran to my next flight gate in hopes that I would make it in time, but I missed the flight along with four other passengers. The next thing I needed to do was to find a flight attendant to have my connecting flights to Pemba, Mozambique rescheduled.

After being directed to a flight attendant, I showed the attendant my printed plane ticket. I didn’t realize that the paper I showed her (the flight attendant) showed Johannesburg, South Africa on the bottom of the page, so she assumed it was my final destination. The printed ticket I showed her was only page 3/4, but I was too tired and inexperienced as a flyer to pay attention to those details.

The flight attendant rescheduled me to fly into Paris, France and then catch a connecting flight into Johannesburg, South Africa; I wasn’t going to complain about going to Paris. When I landed in Paris, I was there all day from about 11ish am until about 9p. I knew I wasn’t going to rent a hotel, so I thought I might as well enjoy Paris for a day. I thought about leaving the airport and exploring the city, but I didn’t want to take the risk of missing another flight, and I was an inexperienced traveler on my own, and I also noticed that not many people there speak English.

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I did leave the airport and walk around the premises, and for the little I did get to see, it was amazing. There were cars i’d never seen before in my life (and I am a car guy, so that’s unusual) and amazing buildings that looked like they were from the year 2020. When I went back into the airport, I heard the beautiful language of French being spoken over the intercom primarily, and the secondary language it was translated into was English with British accent.

One thing I will never forget is the security at the airport. I was in the airport long enough to notice that there were a total of nine guards that walk around the airport in groups of three each. As the three guards walk beside one another, two of out three of them carry loaded machine guns in plain view, and are wearing army uniforms. I had never seen anything like that before in my life, well, at least not in America.

When I started to get hungry I decided to buy a sandwich at the airport, but there was a problem; the person behind the counter did not speak any English at all. I pointed to a sandwich I liked, and he said, “chicken?” I said “yes, chicken!” Then I pulled out my American Visa card and I said “Visa?” and he nodded his head. The only words that were required for me to eat were “chicken” and “Visa;” that worked for me!

Since the airport was like a giant shopping mall, I walked around it for about 4-5 hours and bought a couple of souvenirs, and tried to have some conversations with some French people, but that didn’t work out because as I said earlier, hardly anyone speaks English. Eventually I got tired and fell asleep on a bench right next to my flight gate. A few hours later I boarded my flight to Johannesburg, South Africa.

When I arrived in Johannesburg, I noticed that I only had an hour and a half to check-in my luggage, get through customs, and to board my final flight to Pemba. The reason I only had an hour and a half to board was because my flight to Amsterdam from Los Angeles was 2 hours late. I also made the mistake of not asking the flight attendant in Amsterdam to reschedule my flight to Pemba so that I would have had more time to board.

Unfortunately I missed my flight to Pemba because an hour and a half wasn’t enough time to board that flight. The flight to Pemba that I missed was the flight that my entire team of 20 team members boarded together. The first thing I did was go to the flight attendant to have my flight to Pemba rescheduled.

Keep in mind that this day is May 28th, and the flight attendant told me that not only would the next flight to Pemba be on June 4th (three days before I was scheduled to come back to the US), but I would also need to pay for that flight as well. While I know that some things in life just happen that have nothing to do with the devil, I decided to not take the tickets, because I was recognizing all of this to be a major attack from the enemy to keep me away from Mozambique.

The reality began to set in that I was over 10,000 miles away from anyone that could help me, I knew no one in South Africa, and I would need to stay there for seven days unless God did something supernatural. I was extremely hungry at this point, started to get a headache, and was very dehydrated, but the only thing I could think about was getting to Pemba as soon as possible. The first thing I decided to do was to use the airport’s free wifi (only free for 30 min.) to somehow contact Iris Ministries since I didn’t have a phone number to contact anyone I knew that could help.

While on the internet on my smartphone, I found out that there is an Iris Ministries Base in South Africa, so I copied the phone number and the entire website information onto a notepad on my phone. I also logged into Facebook and let my entire team know that something was wrong, and that I needed help getting to Pemba. After my free wifi ran out, I decided to use the airport phone to call Iris South Africa to see if they could help me. When I got to the phone, it took me about an hour just to figure out how to use it since I needed to first convert my US dollars into South African Rand.

Once I had my South African Rand, I asked an airport coworker standing at an information desk how to use their pay phone to call Iris in South Africa (I asked him for help about 4-5 times because I could not figure it out). God bless him for his patience! I eventually got a hold of a man that worked for Iris South Africa, and explained to him my situation. After I finished sharing, he said, “So you’re telling me that this is your first time traveling, and you are in South Africa alone without anyone to help you? Oh my God, I have never heard of anything like this before, this is not good at all!”

The fact that he was totally freaking out didn’t make me feel any better. After he calmed down, he told me that he could give me a phone number to a man named “Sean” who is an American that lives in Mozambique. He proceeded to give me Sean’s phone number, but he said that he couldn’t make any promises. I told him “I understand,” and thanked him for his help. I am normally bad with remembering people’s names, but this is one of very few times in my life that the name of a person I don’t know anything about has been burned into my memory bank forever.

I tried to use the same phone at the airport to call Sean, but I could not figure it out. I asked the same man at the information desk to please help me to figure out how to call Sean, but the man at the information desk said, “I’m sorry, I don’t know how to call someone in Mozambique, that’s another country; I wish I could help.”

I don’t know why I thought it wouldn’t be a problem calling Sean, after all, he does live in Africa, but I didn’t think about the fact that Mozambique is another country in Africa. It’s like someone from Canada coming to California and asking you if they can borrow your phone so that they can call Canada. As an example, just because Canada and the United Stated are both in North America does not mean that it’s easy to make phone calls back and forth; everything is different.

Because I ran out of South African Rand, I knew that I needed to convert more of my US dollars into Rand before I could try using the pay phone again. However instead of going downstairs again to the currency counter, I decided to go to a small candy store in the airport next to the phone to see if I could take a shortcut in converting my US dollars to South African Rand. There were two women at the candy stand whom I will name: Aminali (which means trustworthy; honest) and Halima (which means Patient; merciful).

I have changed their names to protect the privacy of my new friends. As soon as I walked up to the candy stand, I asked Aminali if I could convert my US dollars to South African Rand. Right away she figured out what I was trying to do, and she said, “you’re trying to make a phone call arn’t you?” I nodded my head. Then she said, “Well you can just use my phone to call whoever you want, who do you want to call?” I was shocked, but then I said, “Thank you so much, I want to call a man named ‘Sean’ who lives in Mozambique, that’s where I want to go.”

Then she said, “Why do you want to go to Mozambique? That’s not a place people want to go.” I said to her, “It’s a missions trip, and I’m going to be helping to feed the poor and serve the people there.” Then she said, ” Well if you want to use my phone to call Mozambique, you’re going to have to buy a temporary international plan for my phone first.” I paid her for the international plan in US dollars, and then she gave me change in South African Rand.

Aminali did not know how to call Mozambique, so she used the internet on her phone to find the country code for Mozambique. After she gave me the phone number with the correct area code and all, I called Sean. I explained to him who I was, and told him that I was with the Global Awakening missionary team. Sean asked me who the leader of my team was, and I told him the leader for the trip was Will Hart. So Sean told me to call him back in about 3 hours because he was in a very important meeting.

Sean also told me that he couldn’t make any promises, and that I might have to stay in Johannesburg for seven days like the flight attendant mentioned to me earlier. I told Sean that I understood, and that I would call him back in 3 hours like he said. After I finished talking with Sean, I shared the information with Aminali. Aminali then said, “Well I might be able to get a taxi for you to travel from here to Pemba if that’s okay with you.” I told her “yes,” and then I asked how much the taxi drive would cost.  She called a taxi company in Johannesburg, and then told me that it would cost $80 US.

After I agreed to the price, I gave her $100 and she converted it into South African Rand at her candy stand at the airport. Then I asked her to take me to the taxi. I had not realized at that time that taking a taxi from Johannesburg, South Africa to Pemba, Mozambique was a 1,500 mile drive, so it was a GREAT deal. She told me that there are no taxi’s at the airport that will take me to Pemba, so we would need to leave the airport to find a taxi. So I followed Aminali out of the airport. “We need to take a shuttle to get to where there are more taxi’s, is that okay with you?” She asked me. I replied, “Yes that’s okay.”

As I followed her out of the airport, several thoughts were racing through my head…”Is she really taking me to a taxi, or am I about to get robbed and thrown in jail? Am I seriously walking the streets of South Africa trusting a woman that I have never met before in my life?” I thought to myself. I always thought this sort of thing only happened in the movies, only this was real. Then all of sudden she said, “Why do you trust me? You know that I could rob you and take all of your money, right?”

I told her, “Well you offered to let me use your cell phone, and you walked out of the airport in the middle of your work schedule to help me, so I trust you.” Aminali just laughed. When we got to the shuttle, my luggage was so large, that it barely fit inside of the shuttle; I had to put it on my lap. It was obvious to me that tourists do not use the shuttles in Johannesburg often. Aminali decided to pay for my shuttle ride to the taxi location; I was amazed by all that she was doing for me despite having never met me before in her life.

During the shuttle ride, we started to get close to an intersection, and the light was red. However instead of the shuttle stopping, as it should, we ran the stop light. As we ran the stop light, I looked at the faces of the people on the shuttle, and no one seemed worried. Apparently that’s normal out there. Aminali told me later that the reason this happens is because if the shuttle were to stop, the people on board would probably get robbed.

Once we arrived at the taxi location and got off of the shuttle, Aminali said to me, “Follow me very closely, this is a very dangerous area. Americans who hold their smartphones in their hands have gotten their phones stolen, so keep it in your pocket. Also, hold on to your luggage very tight, don’t let anyone take it. You should also pray that God will find you a taxi, are you a Christian?” I replied, “Yes I am, are you?” She answered, “yes.”

So I followed Aminali through a bad area of Johannesburg to where the taxi’s would be. As I walked by, I could feel the eyes of every single person watching me walk by with my large American luggage. Afraid, the whole time I was thinking to myself, “I don’t know why, but I believe this is going to be a testimony at the end of the day. I don’t believe I made it this far to stay in a hotel in Johannesburg for seven days; I trust you Lord that there will be a breakthrough by the end of the day.”

When we finally got the the taxi location, Aminali started speaking to the taxi driver in her native language. After about five minutes, she told me that the taxi would take four days to get to Maputo, Mozambique, and then I would need to take a plane from Maputo to Pemba, so it wouldn’t be worth my time or money. After that, Aminali lead me back to the airport. When we got back to the airport, I asked her if I could borrow her phone to call Sean one more time, as three hours had passed by.

So I called Sean, and he told me that he was able to find a flight to Pemba for the following morning, and that he would be picking me up personally at the airport in Pemba. I wrote down all the information he had given me, and thanked him for everything. Before buying my plane ticket to Pemba, I decided to use the restroom because it felt like I was about to explode. After I finished using the restroom and washing my hands, I saw two women standing in the restroom smiling at me, and I just smiled back, thinking they were janitors.

However something didn’t seem right about the two women being inside the restroom, so when I stepped outside of the restroom, I noticed that it was the Women’s restroom. Normally I would have been embarrassed by this, but I was so exhausted, hungry, thirsty, and dizzy that I didn’t even care. I just smiled and thought to myself, “Oh well, it happened, and now I’m moving on!” After buying my plane ticket to Mozambique I finally got something to eat and drink, and bought food for my new South African friends as well.

After all of this, one of the security guards who the women were friends with guided me to the hotel that I would be sleeping at. After getting to the hotel, I paid a small amount of money for internet access so that I could update my Facebook status and let everyone know that I was doing okay, and then I went to sleep. The following morning, I woke up at 4am to packup, check out of the hotel, and be at my departure gate as early as possible. When I got to my departure gate, I noticed a small group of people holding blue American Passports; I was glad to see something familiar.

After a few minutes had passed by, I said to them, “excuse me, are you guys going to Pemba?” one of them said, “yes, we are! are you?” I replied, “Yes I am! I’m going to Iris Ministries, I’m part of the Global Awakening team, and I missed one my flights.” The same person replied, “Oh wow, we are from the Iris Ministries Harvest School! There are about 50 of us going on this flight to Pemba!” Then I said, “Well I’m gonna make sure I stick with you guys from this point forward like glue, because I don’t want to be on my own anymore!” They all laughed, and we all walked to the airport gate together.

When we got to the gate, one of the guys from the Harvest School asked me if I was hungry, and I just smiled. He decided to buy me a monster sized muffin, so I thanked him, and I was extremely grateful for that. Before our plane left for Pemba, I decided to take a picture of all of us because I never want to forget this moment as long as I live:

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When we all finally left for Pemba, I was thinking about how God worked all of this out for me. I found it amazing that my flight to Pemba the next morning just happened to be a flight with about 50 Harvest School students that were going to the same location I was; that’s how I knew this was God.

Please keep in mind that this is only the beginning of my wild adventure! Stay tuned for the rest of the series 🙂

Click Here For Part 4



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