Cameroon Python Skin Story

After speaking with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife office at the Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport this morning, I was told that I could not bring my 9-foot long python skin into the country since I did not have an “export form” from Cameroon. The skin, which a Fulani man in a Yaounde market sold to me for the equivalent of less than $4 U.S., was taken by a customs officer as I entered the U.S. on Friday.

My Air France flight arrived in Atlanta about 30 minutes late due to late departure from Charles de Gaulle Paris (neither of my flights departed CDG on time). I spent another 30 minutes waiting for my baggage so that I could take it through U.S. customs, where I was sent to a special inspection line since I had checked the animal/wildlife product box on the customs form. I waited more than an hour (until the time my flight to Denver was scheduled to leave) for the customs official to decide that he needed to detain the skin and fill out the necessary paperwork. Then I had to drop my baggage to be transported to the plane and pass through airport security.

By the time I made it to the airport train, my flight was scheduled to be taking off, and I had no idea which concourse or gate to go to. I decided to head for Concourse A since many domestic Delta flights depart from that concourse. I then arrived in Concourse A, looked at a departure monitor and noted the gate number and that my flight was still boarding, and sprinted down the concourse. Since my section was not boarding yet, I called my mom to let her know I made it to Atlanta. Thankfully, I was able to board my originally-scheduled flight. (Sometimes delayed flights are good, and that was what I had been praying for on the way out of customs!)

Both my suitcase and the box I took for the Dallmanns arrived in Denver, although the box was placed on the next Delta flight. My parents and I only had to wait about an hour for that next flight to arrive, though, which gave me some time to talk with my dad before his flight left for a business trip to California.

In retrospect, I wonder if it would have been better to lie and state that I did not have any animal products. It probably would have been much easier to get through customs (unless I was randomly selected for a baggage search), and I would not have needed to wait that extra hour in customs. But it would not have been the upright thing to do. I would have a 9-foot long python skin, but is that worth lying?

Proverbs 12:19 says, “Truthful lips will be established forever, But a lying tongue is only for a moment.” I would encourage you to remember this story and keep truthfulness a priority in your life, even when you know it will involve sacrifice. Honesty ultimately is more profitable than anything this world can offer.

Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.

And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.

– Hebrews 13:15-18

Thanks for your prayers! To God be the glory for keeping me truthful!

3 Comments on Cameroon Python Skin Story

  1. John,
    I am glad you were honest. It shows a pure heart and will not allow for a stronghold to be started. Would you have enjoyed the skin as much having had to lie to keep it?
    God honors the truth.

    Good to start hearing the stories. I am enjoying your photos as well.
    Blessings, Aunt Kim

  2. Well, I WOULD have liked to see the python skin, but I’m glad you didn’t lie to get it through! That wouldn’t have been right. I’m excited to hear more stories. 🙂

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