Our trip started out very smoothly, we left the church around 6:30 to head to Boston. We flew out of Boston this year because it was less expensive and it was a direct flight. Peter Das and the LaRochelles were kind enough to drive all of us and Ray drove the truck with all of the bags. We got lucky at the airport and we were checked-in, baggage checked and through security very quickly. Our flight was uneventful and we arrived at Punta Cana right on time. It took the normal hour to get through the line to our luggage, and thats when the trouble started.
Because of our suspicious amount of donations, all in army duffle bags, we were flagged by customs and made to go into a special line. The inspector started to go through our bags and then called his boss who was a surly man who kept repeating that we needed a letter in order to bring donations. He said that he would have to take the bags until we produced this letter (he gave us no details on what was supposed to be in the letter or who it was supposed to be from or to). At this point we called Joel, the local pastor we work with every year, and Joel talked to the inspector on the phone. We also called Wilson because we needed all the help we could get. After refusing to leave the bags for another hour the inspecor we had been dealing with left and a new inspector came on who was much nicer and explained that the letter needed to be typed in spanish from the organization we were working with in the Dominican. The new inspector said we had an hour to get the letter or she would lock up our bags.
The put everyone into motion. Sue and everyone took our personal luggage and took the shuttle that had been waiting for us to the hotel. Ernie stayed behind at the airport to meet Wilson and Joel. Eventually Wilson arrived and talked to the customs people and then called Joel. Joel had gone to his church to get a letter from the church office that said the donations were being brought as part of a mission for his church. Wilson brought Joel to the airport where he gave the letter to customs and they released the bags. We were just able to fit all the bags into Wilson's van. We eventually arrived at the hotel and stored the bags to deal with tomorrow.
Thank god for our friends here in the Dominican!