2018 Pan American Highway Trip

Costa Rica Trip

By Steve Rehner MFM Director of Business Development

The headlights were in my lane until the last possible second; fortunately the semi was able to finish passing and return to his lane before hitting us head-on. This was one of many “little” adventures we experienced on the Pan American Highway trip. In July, 2018, twelve men joined me driving down the Pan American highway from the U.S. to Costa Rica.

This was definitely a different type of mission trip. Our goal was to raise money for Small Business Development projects. We traveled in six cars, crossing the borders of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and our destination, Costa Rica.

Tailgate lunch somewhere in Mexico
Typical tailgate lunch somewhere in Mexico–– peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and lunch meat sandwiches.
Mexico is long north to south, so it took two days to traverse the country. The third day we crossed into Guatemala, and that afternoon we had a five-hour delay due to major tire damage. One of the cars had all four rims damaged, and another car had two blown tires, all on the same series of potholes that stretched completely across the road. This delay, added to the time it took to cross the border into El Salvador, which caused us to drive through the night until 5:30 the next morning.

The big issue regarding the drive was the civil war that had been raging in Nicaragua the previous months. We had been very close to canceling the trip due to the conflict, but in the end felt that we could carefully cross the country. The plan was to cross Honduras and enter Nicaragua while it was still daylight and then spend the night in Managua with missionary friends. However, the lengthy border crossings delayed our entry into Nicaragua until after 11:30 p.m. So much for traveling to Managua during the daylight. It was a three-hour trip to Managua, and we arrived at 2:30 a.m.

After a short two and a half hours of rest, we left Managua at 4:30 a.m. for the Costa Rica border. It was like the Lord brought in a cloud of protection over us, as a fog settled over us that was so thick I could hardly see to drive. This fog hovered over us until we were out of Managua, and then we had a safe two-hour drive to the Costa Rican border. Nobody who wanted to harm us could have even seen us. One of our team said he saw guys with masks along the road, but with the fog they could certainly not know who was in the cars going by them.

Team at the Costa Rica border
The team after we arrived at the Costa Rica border.
We really sensed the Lord’s hand of protection on us while we were in Nicaragua for those few hours, and all of the members of the team had an uncommon sense of peace that we were safely held in the Lord’s hand as we faced some uncertainty crossing the country. We arrived safely in Costa Rica on July 12th, and had a few days of ministry before everyone flew home. We had bonded in an unusual way and shared an adventure never to be forgotten.