Arriving at the Airport in Kiev, Ukraine
I stepped off the jet-way into the dimly lit all way. I walked toward the only light source, a solitary light bulb at the end of the grey concrete corridor. Under it I saw a stern for boding soldier, standing with a hardened gaze holding an AK -47 staring at me. At that moment I asked myself, “What have I gotten my family into?” I had seen the movies where political prisoners walked down a similar looking grey hall only to receive a complimentary bullet from the KGB in the back of the head. I thought to myself, “How would they know the address of my family to send them the bill for the bullet? Hesitantly I peeked out of the corner of my eye half hoping, half expecting James Bond to be following behind. He wasn’t. I knew I couldn’t count on 007.
A dozen feet form the soldier I realized his expression wasn’t one of stern contempt but one of apathy. I was just another traveler from a foreign land entering his nation with more money than he would see in a year. As I passed by him I soon realized that his indifference was not shared by his fellow Ukrainians working at the airport. As soon as I got to the airports new and only baggage, first through the x-ray equipment and then lift them up on the customs officer’s inspection’s tables. I was the only one in our family of for that could lift most of these bags and I shuddered at the daunting task of multiple trips between the carousel and the x-ray machine’s conveyor. It was a no brainer. I gladly accepted his help and paid the platy sum of 75 dollars, US, to move the bags for us.
All the bags were x-rayed and nothing flagged. I later saw why, my new helper slipped doe money to the x-ray examiner. The customs officers however decided to open up a few of our trunks. We were told this would happen and were instructed to ams sure we had a manifest of all the items for each bag. Inside each of our bags we, on top of our belongings we were to leave candy bars. this was an offering, so to speak, for the people inspecting the bags. The idea being that they could confiscate the candy and release our bags. As good measure my former spouse had placed an abundance of feminine hygiene products in the trunks which contained our medicines in the hopes that it might deter the male customs officers. As expected the customs officers checked our papers, picked the bags which contained our medicine supply and then the female customs agents dug through the ladies hygiene products like bugs Bunny on his way through Albuquerque. When she found out 2 years supply of cough syrup, antacids, aspiring and other over-the-counter- medications in our luggage she made a call and some other agents appeared.
Instantly we were in the spot light. The question they asked but didn’t understand was, “why would anyone bring so much medication?” Their assumption was that we must be some sort of drug organization and that were going to sell the medicines on the black market. Little could we have known that all those types of medications were “by prescription only” in Ukraine. More bags were opened and two other officers ferreted through them. Our belongings went flying ( a good reason to pack new, clean underwear) onto table and then cascaded to the floor. The candy offering was tossed aside and ignored (best laid plans scenario). Now we were really scared. They asked questions and we could not answer. They did not speak English and we could not speak Ukrainian. A few more officers arrived and fear started to eel up inside me. I prayed, “Oh Lord please help.” It was about then that another group of travelers exited the customs area into the airport’s arrival lounge and I heard someone yelling at me in English. Every time the automatic exit doors slid open the missionary on the other side yelled, (doors opens) “Rowser” (door closes), (door opens) “Tell them” (door closes), (opens) “you have” (door closes), (door opens) “translators” (closes), (opens) “outside” (closes). It took me three times before I got the whole message. They allowed our fellow missionaries into the customs area and both we and the customs officers were finally able to bridge the language barrier that existed between us.
The Hines missionary family was the answer to my “help” prayer. They were assigned to pick us up and when we didn’t come out they knew we had run into trouble. We were never so happy to meet anyone in all our lives. He was allowed into the customs area and he explained why we were there and the reasons for all the medicines. After a great deal of suspicious consultation we were allowed to repack our bags. I purposefully left the candy bars out telling the officers that I could not get them back in my luggage. They smiled knowingly and one helped me and our hired helped load the last few trunks on the baggage cart and walked us through the portals of the Ukrainian airport to our waiting transportation which would carry us to our new hime in the city of Kiev.
My story is simply an exampe of how God chooses to work in our lives. When following God, we don;t know what to expect. God doesn’t tell give us all the details we just know that we win in the end. The helplessness that one feels at those moments is beyond description. You might be thinking, “once is enough” but since then I have had many such experiences, and God provided a means of dealing with each and every one of them. So why did I go half way around the world? Faith, even though I did not know what the future held in store for me, I stepped off the plane into one of the greatest adventures of my life. God demonstrated His power and providence in my weak life. God’s promised that He will never leave nor forsake us and He doesn’t. If we will follow Him, step by step, He will accomplish His will in our lives for His glory. I don’t have to know my immediate future for I am assured of my ultimate one with Him in heaven.
You Pastor, Dave Rowser