Day One Journal

Twelve of the total group of 18 traveled today by ATA Airlines from Phoenix to La Guardia, on what was to have been a quick plane change in Chicago, then on to NY by mid afternoon. Each of us had in mind some sort of activity - from dinner to an evening exploring the Big Apple and a good night’s sleep before beginning our week with the Billy Graham Association.

Wayne had told us that we were to come with no expectations and to be open to whatever assignment we would receive, be that peeling potatoes or listening to the heart aches of those in NY who continue to deal with the raw emotions of loss, fear and questioning. He said we may also find ourselves manning tables on the street, telling New Yorkers of the counseling center’s availability, or serving food to those working at ground zero at a nearby restaurant where food is offered to them at no cost, in an environment that offers a respite from all that IS ground zero.

Wayne went on to tell us that there were to be no complaints and no whining.

For many of us, a 5 am arrival at Sky Harbor was a jolt to our comfortable routine, but we were all smiles while standing in the three lines that got us on board. Our first plane sat in Phoenix for nearly an hour while they fixed a problem with one of the instruments, The pilot made up all but five minutes of our original departure time by zipping through the jet stream on the way to Chicago, and we made it to our next gate in plenty of time for our scheduled departure.

The line there queued up for boarding this plane, and soon four of our group were on board.  Then the airline crew shut the door to the plane and stopped all boarding...for about an hour. The rest of us debated whether we could send someone for food, but we decided to ride it out and see if they would get whatever was broken, fixed. (It was a brand new airplane). When they decided that the plane was not repairable, they deplaned the rest of our team, and sent us across the airport to another line...where they offered to put 80+ of the first plane’s 200+ passengers on another outgoing flight. We were not able to get all of us on that flight (hmm, I wonder why), so we opted to go on the 7 pm flight as a group.

We were guided through the process by "Suzan" who works for ATA, and who rebooked us all, even after she had been given the instruction from co-workers to send everyone to the main ticket counter. Suzan refused to accept our offer of a gratuity for her selfless effort in what was around us a less than pretty afternoon's atmosphere, with 150 plus people, who’s emotions were tense and not being treated as well as they all thought they deserved. Our group was an exception, and maintained our humor and kind intention toward the situation. I believe God led our hearts to be a small cup of cool water to those in the airport.

Dinner was our next item of agenda, and off we went in search of the old American hamburger, or salad to satisfy our hunger. Then back to the waiting area for more waiting, another line and still ... no whining. As I write, we have boarded our third airplane; it has taken off from Midway and we are winging our way to NY, believing we might arrive at the hotel by midnight, with our expectations leveled, our whine under control, and eager to see how God will use us tomorrow. We are impressed that it's not New York that will be changed by our presence, but we who will be changed by the experience, as we let Jesus live through us.