I did not want to travel as much as the securities industry required, so I reached out the owner of a large real estate investment firm whom I respected and let him know that I was looking to change my employment. He offered me the position of vice president. Even though the company had properties around the country, his first assignment was for me to check out his personal investment of a half million dollars in a sewing factory in Aguascalientes, Mexico. I reported back that he was being scammed. He instructed me to work with the owner, a past press secretary to a cabinet member of Mexico, without letting him know what I had discovered.
I worked closely with this man for several months. He even took me to the presidential palace in Mexico City to have breakfast with his godfather, the general in charge of the security force for the president. The palace was more like a military compound than a mansion and overlooked the hill where US Marines defeated the Mexican army in 1847. The breakfast spread consisted of the finest food I had seen: huge fresh shrimp, pristine fruits, a selection of cheeses, smoked salmon, and other meats. Afterward, we went outdoors to their shooting range to test our skill with various weapons. I may be the only gringo who has shot guns in the presidential compound and lived to tell the tale.
Months later, after much of the inventory was in the United States, I disclosed what we knew and pulled the plug on the operation. That was when I received my first death threat. I was so incensed and stupid that I drove down to the border city of Chula Vista, California; called the person in Tijuana, Mexico, who had made the threat; and demanded that he come meet me in person. He refused to come. Looking back, I am sure he thought it was a setup for the police to nab him. Thus ended my involvement with this business venture in Mexico. However, I learned an interesting and important lesson during my travels there.
One day I was scheduled to take an early morning flight from Aguascalientes, situated in north central Mexico, to Mexico City, located in the southern central part of the country. Unfortunately, the plane we were scheduled to take was not available because of some mechanical difficulty. So, the airline diverted a flight from Leon, a city close by, to pick us up. This flight was originally scheduled to fly directly from Leon to Mexico City.
When we boarded this plane in Aguascalientes, the people already on the plane were quite unhappy. They were supposed to be on a direct flight to Mexico City, and now they had an unscheduled stop, which would make them arrive later than they had originally planned. Additionally, the plane was now very crowded, so the flight would not be as comfortable. I heard several individuals grumbling about the inconvenience this change imposed on them.
We all got situated in our seats and were ready to go. Then, all at once, everything died. The lights went out; the roar of the engine ceased; the air conditioning stopped blowing. There was an eerie silence for a moment. Then the silence was broken by individuals complaining and verbally wondering what would go wrong next.
The intercom did not work, so the flight attendants went down the aisle explaining that the captain did not know what the problem was, assuring us that they were diligently trying to identify the problem, and requesting our patience. Now the passengers from Leon became even more irritated.
After quite a while, maybe a half hour or so, the flight attendants notified the passengers that they still were not able to isolate the problem, so the flight was cancelled. They informed us that the airline would send another plane later that afternoon, around four-thirty, to pick us up and take us to Mexico City.
Now the people from Leon were extremely upset. They were not even supposed to be here, and now they were stranded for the whole day in a city where they did not have any place to go. Many people had important plans for the day that they would miss. People were grumbling and swearing as they bumped into each other while retrieving their bags from the overhead compartment and preparing to deplane.
The flight attendants mentioned that we could stay on the plane if we wanted, but practically everyone decided to deplane. However, I had sat on the hard stone benches in that airport plenty of times before and knew how uncomfortable they were, so I elected to stay on the plane, even though it would get hot without any air-conditioning.
I moved up to one of the first-class seats and spent a few hours reading and visiting with the copilot and flight attendants. Then a very interesting thing happened. An engineer who was working on the plane came up to the copilot and stated, “The people on this flight do not know how lucky they are. This plane would have never made it to Mexico City. It would have crashed midflight. If the plane had taken off, sometime during the long flight to Mexico City, the vibrations of the plane would have caused the defective part to fail, and the plane would have crashed. Everyone was so fortunate that it failed while they were on the ground.”
I learned a great lesson that when things go wrong in our lives, we may not see the whole picture, and it might actually be a blessing in disguise. To this day, the people from Leon believe that this was a horrible experience, yet in reality, the problem they lament actually saved their lives.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God’s ways higher than our ways. (Isaiah 55:8). He sees and knows all things and is loving and merciful. When bad things happen, let us try to realize that we do not see the whole picture and trust in God and His love. In fact, I am convinced that one of the reasons bad things happen is to help us learn to trust God more than we would otherwise so that He can bless us more deeply and bring us closer to Him.
God can fix the problems in our lives, but it may not happen the way we expect. Learning to trust God and His love and wisdom is one of the greatest lessons in life. So when bad things happen in your life, just remember you might be glad your flight was cancelled if you knew the whole story.