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Flight delays and new friends: My trip to Cozumel

A runway mishap contributes to a long day, but God’s beauty makes up for it.

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COZUMEL, Mexico — When I told friends I was traveling to Cozumel on a reporting trip for The Christian Chronicle, they chuckled.

“Uh huh,” their responses seemed to say, as if I might have an ulterior motive.

“No, really,” I insisted.

I flew to the Mexican resort city to cover the 20th anniversary celebration by the Ciudad de Ángeles — “City of Angels” in English. That children’s home, which is supported by Churches of Christ, cares for orphaned, abused and abandoned boys and girls in Cozumel, as I explain in my story.

Related: In a Mexican resort city, Christians care for homeless ‘angels’

In my career, I’ve reported from all 50 U.S. states. I haven’t made it to all 31 Mexican states, but I’ve been blessed to cover stories in a handful of them: Baja California, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Tamaulipas and now Quintana Roo. 

Obviously, the drug cartels have made travel to certain parts of Mexico more difficult in recent years. That’s evidenced by the deadly abduction of Americans caught in a shootout this week in the border city of Matamoros.

Even though my Spanish is limited, I always enjoy meeting my Christian brothers and sisters south of the U.S. border. I pray that the security situation will improve. 

Carlos Mis with Bobby Ross Jr., The Christian Chronicle's editor-in-chief, at the 20th anniversary celebration of the City of Angels in Cozumel, Mexico.

Carlos Mis, who grew up at the City of Angels in Cozumel, Mexico, with Bobby Ross Jr., The Christian Chronicle’s editor-in-chief, at the children’s home’s 20th anniversary celebration.

Thankfully, Cozumel has a low crime rate and is welcoming to American visitors. 

My trip itself turned into an adventure — and not the kind involving souvenir shops or sunscreen on the sandy shore.

Instead, the fun — and it really wasn’t fun — started before I even arrived in the Caribbean. 

I got up at 4 a.m. on a recent Friday to catch my early-morning flight from Oklahoma City to Houston. I knew I had a four-hour layover at Hobby Airport. I figured I’d enjoy a leisurely breakfast (Hobby has a Chick-fil-A!) and catch up on a bit of reading.

But shortly before noon, a small jet landed at Hobby and slid off the runway into a grassy area between two main runways, as KPRC-TV reported.

Related: Bon voyage: Lessons learned on a cruise

Suddenly, all commercial flights were grounded at Hobby and would be for hours.

I settled in for a long day.

The good news is that I endured the wait with two new friends, Mark and Jodi Bush.

Mark and Jodi Bush wait during a flight delay at Hobby Airport in Houston.

Mark and Jodi Bush wait during a flight delay at Hobby Airport in Houston.

Mark is an elder of the Eastside Church of Christ in Colorado Springs, Colo., one of the City of Angels’ eight anchor congregations in the U.S. Jodi is the facility manager for Pikes Peak Christian School, which is housed at Eastside.

The Bushes have made numerous short-term mission trips to Cozumel and provided financial support for the children. Jodi serves on the ministry’s board, representing Eastside.

In the Hobby terminal, I took advantage of my time with the Bushes and talked to them about their work with the orphanage.

Our interview (at least the part I recorded) lasted 48 minutes. Their part of my actual story took up just three paragraphs. But they were a big part of educating me about the City of Angels, its mission and its history.

We finally took off from Houston about 5:15 p.m.

After our two-hour flight, a medium-sized customs line greeted us at Cozumel International Airport. Scott Eller, who is featured in my story along with his wife, Andrea, picked us up at the airport. 

It was close to 10 p.m. local time (9 p.m. Oklahoma time) when Eller dropped me off at the corner by my hotel.

In the darkness, I missed the entrance to my hotel — Casa Mexicana — and walked a few blocks past it. I was getting a little concerned, but a stranger who spoke English pointed me in the right direction.

Mike Stoniecki, a resource board member for the City of Angels, is a member of the Greenville Oaks Church of Christ in Allen, Texas. Before moving to the Dallas area, he attended the Grace Chapel Church of Christ in Cumming, Ga., one of the ministry’s other anchor congregations.

Stoniecki had recommended Casa Mexicana to me. He told me it had a great breakfast buffet (and he was right).

I slept hard that first night and woke up hungry. After filling my plate with eggs, waffles and bacon, I caught a glimpse of the view outside the hotel’s front windows: a postcard-perfect view of the bright blue sea. 

The beauty of God on full display!

Suddenly, the travel disruption of the day before didn’t seem like a big deal. Not at all.

I thanked the Lord for the opportunity to travel to Cozumel and report firsthand the story of the City of Angels.

BOBBY ROSS JR. is Editor-in-Chief of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].

Filed under: City of Angels Ciudad de Ángeles Cozumel Eastside Church of Christ Inside Story International Mark and Jodi Bush Mexico Opinion Top Stories travel travel notes

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