For our twentieth anniversary, Wil’s parents offered us
their timeshare in Cancun. We hadn’t had a honeymoon, and his parents thought it
was about time we did. Always the wet blanket, my response was, “What about the
kids?” (We homeschooled, we didn’t do sleep-overs, we took family vacations
together) “And besides, airfare is expensive.”
We figured that it would cost around $1000 to go. We talked about it and decided to ask the Lord to make it very clear to us what He wanted us to do. So we asked for a sign. We prayed, ‘Lord, if You want us to go, provide an extra $1000.”
We didn’t say anything to anyone. I was shocked when, within a week, $1000 came in from a single source neither one of us expected. That settled it. I stopped dragging my feet and found a friend to stay with the kids.
We decided to arrive in Cancun a few days before the timeshare week started, and stay a couple of days afterwards. The airfare was considerably cheaper that way and we wouldn’t have to travel on Sabbath. We looked on the internet and found a hotel for the extra days.
We arrived in Cancun and hadn’t even made it out of the airport before we stumbled into one of the hazards of going to Cancun. We stopped at a desk to get information. The man had a title that sounded official. He was polite and helpful and told us about all the interesting things in the area. We left the desk fifteen to twenty minutes later signed up for a timeshare presentation and four free tours.
We arrived at our hotel to find flowers everywhere. The hotel restaurant was outdoors and overlooked a large pond or bay. As we were eating supper my husband noticed a few crocodiles. We also noticed several geckos on the posts. My husband really enjoyed watching the crocodiles, while I enjoyed the geckos. I have liked geckos longer than Geico has. In the morning we found large iguanas in the front yard. The hotel staff picked a few of the plentiful hibiscus flowers and gave them to us to feed the iguanas. I never knew iguanas ate flowers!
The lady at the front desk was sweet and helpful. But she too wanted us to go to a timeshare presentation. Repeatedly, we declined. Finally, she asked us what it would take to get us to go. Was there anything we wanted? Wil laughed and said if she could rent us a car for both Sabbaths we were there, we would go. We were surprised when her response was, “Done!”
We were so happy on Sabbath morning to have a car to drive to church! I was enjoying riding the bus, but it was so much nicer to have a car on Sabbath. It felt good to be prepared! We had the address for the SDA church, a car to get there, and we left early so we would have plenty of time to find it. What we were not prepared for was the frustration the street signs caused.
The street signs told you which way to go to get to the street you wanted, but they did not tell you what street you were on. We never knew where we were. We could not tell when we got to where we wanted to be. We wandered around in circles, in heavy traffic. Silently, I prayed and kept on praying, “Lord, send us to worship with Your people.”
Finally, we were so late that my husband did something totally out of character. He stopped and asked directions. We followed the directions and saw a sign with the SDA logo—an open Bible with a flame. I was sure that God had answered my prayers! We parked on the street and got out. The gate was locked. We had not found the church. It was the Adventist school. Disappointed, we stood there at the gate. After all that, we were not going to get to go to church.
Down the street, three men hung out, just watching us. They didn’t look at all friendly. One of them called out in Spanish, asking us what we were looking for. Wil told them we were looking for the Adventist church. Expressionless, they asked, “Why?” My husband said that we wanted to go to church. Immediately, one of them called out, “Hermano!” (“Brother!”) All three came over and embraced my husband. We hadn’t found the Adventist church but we had found some Adventists!
They were not very happy because a meeting had been planned at the school that morning. It was canceled, but no one had bothered to tell them it was cancelled. They drove all the way across town, and missed most of Sabbath School for a cancelled meeting. They were debating what they should do when we showed up. They asked us if we wanted to go to their church instead of going to the church we had tried to find. We accepted their offer and followed them quite some distance, through the traffic, to a small Adventist Church. When we got out of the car, they asked my husband if he would preach. He was, after all, wearing a tie.
Sabbath afternoon we checked into the actual timeshare resort where we were to spend the week. They too wanted us to attend a timeshare presentation. This time it didn’t matter how nice they were, we were not going to a presentation on Sabbath. When we chose not to attend it, they assigned us a room behind the maid’s quarters, far away from all their activities. This meant we couldn’t hear the music and partying from our balcony, which I considered a blessing.
We had a wonderful Sabbath and a wonderful week. Wil always spoke Spanish to the locals and a few of them were willing to tell him where they would go to the beach, or find good snorkeling. We had a great time doing things off the beaten path, so the four tours we were given were plenty.
We even ditched one of the tours. We arrived with the tour on Isla Mujeres, an island known for snorkeling. Once we got off the boat, we learned that this particular tour was designed to keep us on the beach for the day, eating and drinking ourselves into a stupor. The food and drinks were free, but if we wanted to go snorkeling it would cost about $100 an hour.
We told the tour organizers that we would not be going back with them and called for a cab. Wil asked the cab driver to take us to a good place to snorkel. He drove across the island to a small hotel with a reef right near the dock. It had a small patio and a few chairs. We spent most of the day snorkeling there for $3 apiece. Not touristy, just simple. The water really was turquoise! Beautiful tropical fish were all around us. They were the kind you see in salt water aquariums. It was an incredible day!
It seemed like we blinked our eyes and Sabbath came again. We went back to our original hotel on Friday, and picked up the car. This time we paid extra to keep it until Monday morning. Our plans for that Sabbath were to spend the day at a beach the locals used. We were told it was rather isolated. When we got to there we found that our informers were right. It was secluded. We were the only ones there. We spent the day with Jesus–enjoying the beautiful things He had made for us. We saw butterflies and birds in the jungle right next to the beach. We snorkeled with the fish. We picked up pieces of coral off the beach. We felt so very blessed to spend the day with each other and with Jesus.
Sunday, we decided to take a final outing into the jungle to see some ruins. We were told that if we stayed in the jungle until dusk we might see some really cool things. At dusk, the monkeys would come out. Better yet, we might see the jaguars.
I had never seen big cats or monkeys in the wild! When I knew we were going to be in the jungle near dusk, I began to pray, “Lord, please show me something special!” I wasn’t even quiet about it. I told Wil that I was asking Jesus to show me something special. Wil began to tease me. I didn’t mind it because I knew Jesus was going to answer my prayer.
Every time Wil saw something the slightest bit different he would tell me that it was my “something special.” I told him the tarantula crossing the road was definitely not my “something special!” Neither was the man riding his bicycle with a gun. The sun set and I still had not seen anything extraordinary. I didn’t say anything to Wil, but I was very disappointed. I had asked Jesus to show me “something special.” Maybe sometimes I’m like a little kid, because I really believed He would. I was kind of glad it was getting dark so Wil couldn’t see the tears in my eyes.
We were approaching a little village. Off to the left, I saw a small church with a sign that had an open Bible and flames on it. There were lights on, and people were there. We stopped. The youth meeting at that tiny Adventist church had just begun. There were only a handful of people singing simple songs about Jesus. A man told a couple of short stories, and my husband translated quietly to me. We sang some more and prayed together. I felt completely at peace in that simple little church in the jungle. Afterwards, they invited us to go with them to the little store in their town. A church elder owned it, and he gave us each a Mexican soda. We found out that his anniversary was the same day as ours. We lingered for a long time, talking with the family.
After we left, I realized that my sweet Jesus had not neglected to answer my prayer! All along He had planned to show me the most precious thing on earth to Him—a simple gathering of His people to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. He even planned the exact time we would arrive at that little church, and the detour that took us to it!
When I look back, I am reminded that God really does want to make us happy. He does do special things for us, just because we ask Him to. Not only does He want us to find our delight in pleasing Him, but that He too takes delight in making us happy. In so many, many, ways it is so sweet to trust in Jesus.