Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Timing Is Everthing

Cindy* climbed onto the huge 747 plane with blueprint plans in her head and giddy expectation in her heart. The time had come to finish building the school she had designed for the children of an impoverished country,who had stolen her heart 3 years prior. Had she packed all she needed? Toothbrush! Did she forget her toothbrush? Surrounding her were many other passengers eagerly awaiting take-off, and contemplating their own questions. There was the large man in 17B, wearing the blue striped button down dress shirt, who was listening to Enya on his ipod, trying to calm himself, as flying was not on his top 10 favorite things to do list. There was the young couple in 22E&F, who were holding hands, despite their sweaty palms, chattering non-stop about how exciting it was to finally, after so long, be on the plane that would take them to meet their first adopted child. In row 5, seat A, sat a woman who had just lost her husband to a long and tiring fight with lupus, and was now hoping to get some peace as she flew back to their homeland to bury his remains there.

The flight attendants rehearsed their safety spiel for what was probably the one billionth time, and then they were off. It was a 6 hour flight, and besides the orange juice that spilled in 27C's lap, it was a relatively uneventful one.

Upon landing, Cindy stood in line as the passengers were anxiously watching for the grand door of the plane to open and release them. This next chapter of their lives was calling, which at this point, unbenownst to anyone, was one that very much tied them all together. When Cindy reached the opening of the plane, she was slammed with the powerful heat and smells and sounds of a world much different that what she had been used to. She walked down the extended metal stairs, right on to the tarmac, and smiled as the Caribbean style bongo and xylophone band welcomed her to their country.

Once inside the overcrowded, dimly lit airport, she clung to her passport as the passengers were herded like cattle through 5 different customs gates. Some made it through within seconds, receiving their stamps of approval. While others were being questioned and scrutinized for what seemed like forever in the thick muggy heat. Cindy was praying that she would be part of the first group, and be whisked through, so that she could make it for her 5pm check in at the prestigious hotel that was awaiting her. All she could think of was laying her tired body on a nice soft bed in a room that was blissfully air conditioned! Once the man ahead of her was through, she pulled out her best smile and semi-confidently strode up to the gate. A small dark man with a bald head and large beady eyes snatched her passport with a huff, flipped through in a rush, then suddenly stopped. His eyes narrowed as he stared at the stamps on page 12. He slowly looked up at her, his eyes, little judgmental slits, and commanded her directly into a holding room.

UGH! Cindy was completely baffled and totally disgruntled. How unnecessary! How annoying! What on earth could she have been sent in here for? She was a stand up citizen! The very worst thing she'd done in her life was when she stole a pack of cough drops from the local corner store when she was 9. Oh, and her mother made sure of it that she'd never do that again!

After an hour of waiting and contemplating and sweating, a customs guard poked his head in to the tiny holding room, nodded once, said that she's free to go, and slammed the door behind him. No questions. No prodding. No interrogation. Annoyed, she picked up her luggage, which had been tossed off the carousel on to the cement floor, since most everyone else from her flight had already left. In fact, she was 1 of the last 5 passengers from her flight that got on the airport shuttle bus that was to take them to the promise of a cool room in a quiet spacious hotel.

She lay her head back on the tall vinyl bus seat, and tried to relax as they bumped through the pot holed gravel road. There really should be seat belts on here, she thought. The bus had only been plodding along for less that 5 minutes when it happened. It reminded her of a ride at Disneyland where the vehicle shakes violently with you inside it, trying to invoke thrill and fear all at once. Only this time, it was no ride, and as the cinder block houses on either side of the road began to crumble and fall into the street, the fear was very real. The deafening slams of concrete, the crashes of metal vehicles, the shrill screams of people, so so many people, was soon all that was echoing though the debris filled air.
As stories began to come out over the next couple of days of death tolls and damage quotes, Cindy sat shocked and even humbled as she stared at the front of a newspaper. On it was a picture of the decimated ruins of the hotel she had had a 5pm check in time at. Many of the passengers she flew with on that American Airlines flight, who did not get held up at customs, were checking in right at the time that all hell broke loose. Many were now buried under tons of concrete rubble. And she, she had been detained. For no apparent reason. Held back. Saved. What seemed like an utter inconvenience, was now the sole contributor of her having breath in this very moment. How humbling. How coincidental? How divine.

**This is my fictional version of a real event I read about in the paper this week. Cindy* is a lady from my area who was in Haiti, at the time of the earthquake. She was spared, when many others were not. May this be a reminder to you. The next time you can't find your car keys...the next time the train fully stops when you are parked at the railway crossing...the next time your spouse is 2 hours late to pick you up...just think, maybe, just maybe it's all part of a divine plan, one that may even include sparing your life.**



Jenise Arlene said...

I think like that as much as I can. After 9/11 and all those stories of people getting saved because of small events prior to the attacks, I always stop to tell myself, more than ever, that everything happens for a reason! My mom's next door neighbor was in Haiti herself and thankfully, was not hurt! Everyone's life has been changed with this, no matter if you know someone or not. We continue to pray for those poor, unfortunate people who are there right now. God Bless them all and help them get thru this. I wish there was more that I could do, other than online donations! :-(

Phil and Jenn said...

What a good reminder! Thanks for the story! Everything does happen for a reason.

Smelly b said...

Ha!! Who on earth would steal "cough-drops" from a drug store??? ... Only ONE girl I know : P

Great story. Amidst the scariness of it all - it made my heart long to travel again. For missions. It's been way too long...

Mama4Real said...

There is a reason for everything. I try to keep that in mind as much as I can.