So I have to share a story of one of our little traveling adventures. Marc and I werer traveling back to Canada for a week away from Haiti for a short break and our board meeting. We arranged for Anel (Marc’s nephew) and Dieunanne to stay with our kids, along with their two little ones in Haiti. Neither of us were feeling really sure about going for some reasons, but we were on our way nontheless.
We arrived in Fort Lauderdale on time at 12:00 noon, went through immigration, customs and went to recheck our bags. They had changed the recheck location, so we spent a few minutes searching where to go and finally arrived at the American Airlines check-in counter to recheck them. Then they sent us off towards our connection. We did not realize it was with Westjet, which happened to be in terminal 1 and we were in terminal 4. At the Fort Lauderdale airport there is no sky train or shuttle between terminals. Your feet are the transportation, so we set off at a quick pace towards terminal 1. Our boarding time was 12:45 and the flight was to leave at 1:20. It was already 12:35, and by the time we reached terminal 1, we were getting pretty close to our boarding time. We search the tv monitors to find our flight and gate, but there is no mention of it anywhere. Back and forth between two security check points we finally find one screen that lists our gate and we proceed to the security for that gate. Of course, in the security line I always seem to get flagged. I get the scan, pat down, interrogation, which is not saving us any time. But we get out of security at 12:55 and run to the gate. When we arrive there at 1:05, there is not a soul present at our gate. No Westjet representative at the counter, no plane out the window, no line up of passengers. We ask the other gate reps and they have no idea. They suggest we go back downstairs to the Westjet ticket counter (which means going outside of security). We check the flight screens and there is no info at all for our flight. Seems our flight was the only Westjet flight of the day. So, we head downstairs to the Westjet counter to find noone, not a soul for Westjet anywhere. What now?
We head back to Terminal 4 to talk to American Airlines since we booked our flights with them. They tell us since their flight was on time arriving in FLL, there is nothing they can do. Go back to Westjet to talk to someone. But there is noone at Westjet! So they direct us to go to the baggage claim area to find a Westjet rep. Back to Terminal 1, baggage claim. No Westjet rep. Back to American again, Terminal 4. They give us a phone number for AA and tell us to go to Westjet counter again and ask the airline at the next counter to page a Westjet rep. Back to Terminal 1. We ask Southwest Air if they can page a Westjet rep for us since noone is there. The lady flatly says to me she does not work for Westjet and I should be able to find a phone number for them at their ticket counter. Grrr. We search every sticker and sign on the counter to no avail. Marc tells me to keep calm and not get frustrated.
Finally, we sit down in the Westjet lounge area and decide to call American. Can you believe it that on the phone we get the same shuffle!? They tell us its not their responsibility since their flight arrived on time and to call Westjet. They give me the number and I exasperatedly call Westjet. Westjet tells me that I missed my flight (duh!), but I should call American to rebook on a new flight since I originally booked our flights with them. Can you believe this? I ask her to confirm what time the Westjet flight left, because there was no one there at 1:05 and the flight was suppose to leave at 1:20. She confirms that in fact the flight did leave early. What?! Without all of its passengers? I am mortified. I call American again. Yes, they can rebook but we will be paying a change fee. No way. It was not our fault that we missed the flight!! I call Westjet one more time. They tell me to call my travel agent and he will work it out. Hmm. Ok. So I call Richard. He is immediately on it. He’s amazing and it is worth having a travel agent work on your behalf. He books flights for Haiti ARISE regularly and most people do not recognize the value in having us do it for them. I definitely know the value today! He says he will call me back as soon as he figures out what happened.
By this point, we are thinking that maybe we aren’t supposed to travel back to Canada afterall. Maybe we should just stay the week in Fort Lauderdale. We decide to go get lunch since it is well after 2pm now. We make a Starbucks stop and sit down to relax. That was actually nice to just decide to be at peace with whatever may happen. We pray and ask God to do His will. If he wants us to go, that He would make the way. Richard calls us back at 4pm and has us booked on the next flight out on American and it leaves at 5pm, boarding at 4:35pm. He tells us they gave him the same bounce back and forth between the two til he finally got an agent that just agreed to take care of it and get us back on our way with no extra cost. Thank God! But now we only have 25 minutes again to get to the gate, from Terminal 1 back to Terminal 4, and through security. We make it and we are on our way to Pheonix! Phew!
Our seats are not together and I end up trading with someone who wants to sit with their travel buddy. I settle in to my seat and decide I need to read my Bible to settle my nerves and ask for God’s peace. I’m going to search for every verse that has to do with peace. Then two young ladies come to sit down by me that seem overly friendly with one another. We greet each other, they say they’re going to watch a movie. I go to my Bible and I see they whisper to each other about it. After a while, I am feeling God’s peace settle on me and as I am reading a verse, my eyes are led to look at the passage before, in Matthew 10:29-31. Instantly, I know that I am supposed to share these verses with them and talk to them about God. Interesting. I’m praying and asking for the right words. I’m not really the type that likes talking to people next to me on the plane. You’re awkwardly close and if the conversation doesn’t go well, you can’t get away. But here goes. I wait til they are done watching their movie, then break the ice with some small talk. How was the movie, looks like a good one with good actors…. were they on vacation? Going home? Turns out they live in Tacoma, WA, which is right in the backyard of where I’m from. We talked about the area, the weather, they’re both in the military. Then I asked if they mind me sharing something with them without hopefully seeming wierd. They say sure! I share with them that I’m a Christian and I believe God can speak to us and as I was reading my Bible I felt like I was suppose to share with them just how valuable they are to God and how much He cares about them and loves them. They were so surprised and touched! The one next to me said she didn’t really consider herself religious, but that she had to believe there was a benevolent being looking over them and if she just did good things maybe she would make it to Heaven or maybe not. The other shared that the religious community does not really accept them since they are gay. Ah, my impression was accurate. But I was to share the gospel with them how we are all sinners and fall short, we make our own choices, yet God wants us to know His will so we can know Him. I got to share my testimony with them and tell them that I think God allowed me to be on the plane with them to share this message with them. They were very open and receptive and grateful that I shared with them. Then they decided to watch another movie. While they were watching it, I was asking the Lord if this was the reason our day went the way they did, just so I could share His message with them? I decided to do some coloring in my adult coloring book of inspirational expressions (I know, cheezy, but very relaxing) When I open the book to color, the exact page I fall on says “Everything Happens for a Reason”. I laugh to myself, cause God likes to speak through many different avenues, even when it seems cheezy. As I am coloring and they are watching their movie, I feel like God is impressing on me to give them the coloring page. Really God? Ok, but only if I finish it before we land. I didn’t think I would finish it, but just as they are finishing their movie, I finish the page. I go to tear out the page and see that on the back there is another quote. It says “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I believe I ended up where I was meant to be.” Again, I laugh to myself. God, you are funny. I write on the back the verse from Matt 10:29-31, “What is the price of two sparrows- one penny? Yet not a single sparrow falls to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” Then I turn to them. ‘This may sound really silly, but I also feel like God wants me to give this to you.” I share with them all the events of the day and how as I was praying for them after talking, I opened up my book and here is another message for them. They thank me and are grateful and as we disembark the plane, I just pray that God would use my words and message to touch them. Maybe as they look at the picture, they will be reminded of God’s love for them and turn to him.
So, sometimes we don’t go where we intended to go, but I believe if we are walking in God’s will, we end up where we are meant to be.