Friday, October 8, 2010

Adventures in an Airport

You know, I'm really starting to love flying alone. I mean, I've always really enjoyed flying. And doing it alone, that's been seriously legit. But the last few times I've flown alone, crazy things have happened. Crazy good things. Take the last time I flew. Coming home from TeenPact Congress. I was in the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport charging my iPod touch and cellphone when I first heard his voice...

"Free internet? How does that work?" A young man wearing a red, white, and blue bandanna on his head and legit over-the-head headphones around his neck speculated. I turned around, shrugging my shoulders. "I'm really not sure," I replied. "I tried using it, and the computers are bugging out. Besides, it looks like you can only go on those three sites listed on the screen. Seems like they're just trying to get you to buy stuff. I don't know, just my thoughts." He nodded. "Yeah...yeah, I see what ya mean. That's kinda dumb." I laughed and nodded in agreement, packing up my chargers and gadgets. Then, I got up and walked to my gate, which was just across the way from the charging station. Never thinking I'd see him again. Just a random guy in an airport, sharing my woes about no free internet. But he followed me. Okay, this is weird. I thought. I instructed myself to calm down. This was probably his gate too.

Sure enough, it was. He sat down a seat away from me and struck up a conversation. You know, the usual "I'm in an airport and I'm so bored so I'll just ask you the age-old airport question".

"Where're you headed?"

I hid a grin at his heavy Texas drawl. "Home," I responded. "My plane flies into SeaTac, but I'm actually from Ellensburg. What about you?" 

"I'm stationed in [insert port I can't remember the name of here]. I was back home just for a little while, but now I'm going back."

"Oh," I cocked my head, curious and a bit surprised he wasn't in uniform. "What brought you back here?"

"Death in the family," he replied, simply.

"Oh..." This stopped my perky curiosity short. "I-I'm sorry."

He shrugged. "It's alright. I wasn't really that close to 'im." He seemed to want a change in subject. "What were you doing in Texas?" he asked me. 

"I actually wasn't in Texas," I told him. "This is just my lay-over. I'm coming home from a week in Virginia. I'm apart of this organization called TeenPact, and I was just at their alumni event, Congress." I talked a little about the week, and what we did.

He seemed really interested. "Cool, that sounds like a lot of fun."

"It was," I smiled. "God did some amazing things this week."

"What religion are you?" He asked me suddenly. This surprised me. I'm not sure why. Maybe because that's not your typical "conversation with a random stranger in an airport" question. Earlier in the week, when we had spent a day in DC, Ruth was telling us how we needed to be always ready to talk to someone about God. To show a good example. You know, the whole "make people wonder why all these teenagers are in suits and actually behaving themselves" thing. That's when I started asking God. Asking what His purpose was in bringing this young man to me. Was it to witness to him? Okay, God, I thought. I'm ready.

Of course, this thought process took about a millionth of a second, so there was no awkward pause between his question and my answer.

"I don't usually think of myself as religious. I'm in a relationship with Jesus Christ," I answered. "But if you were to put me in a category, I lean towards Baptist. What about you?" 

"I'm Pentecostal," he responded. 

Okay, I thought. So maybe he doesn't need someone to witness to him. What's my purpose in this conversation, God? I thought. What do you want me to do here?

So, we kept chatting. At first, kind of just about random things. He asked me how old I was, I found out he would be 27 a week after I turned 17. I told him more about TeenPact, and how I had applied to staff. At some point, the conversation turned to home. And why he had been home.

At that point, we were back at the charging station, as his laptop was in need of charging. He started talking about the deaths in his family.

"My brother got brain dead in a motorcycle accident. They were gonna have the funeral next week, but the people at the funeral home told us his body was rottin' and that we should have it as soon as possible. My father passed away eleven days prior to my brother, so that was hard. Not so much with my father, though. I know where he's at. But my brother..." He trailed off for a moment. 

"You don't know?" I offered. He seemed at a loss for words. 

"Ya." He said. "I mean, there was that time between the accident, and when he got brain dead where he coulda repented. It's possible. But I don't know." The realization of this made us both quiet for a moment. 

"You'll find out when you get to Heaven. I really hope he did." I said softly. "There's a lot we're not going to understand until we get to Heaven. Sometimes I wish God would make everything obvious from the start, but that's not how life works."

Our conversation continued. We talked about God, Heaven, people's random predictions of when the world would end, stuff like that. 

All too soon, our gate was boarding and my group number was called. As I waved a quick good-bye and was starting to get in line, he called me back.

"Hey, if don't acknowledge ya or say good-bye or anything when we're picking up our bags, don't get offended or anything." He said apologetically. I must have looked confused, because he continued. "You see, my girlfriend's picking me up, and she doesn't like the idea of me talking to any other girl. Even if I have no interest in her. She gets jealous. She'd be all over me, asking me what my intentions were, ya know. She wouldn't understand that I just needed someone to talk to. Someone to get my mind off of what's been going on, you know, my dad and brother's passin' and all. Thanks for talking to me. I really enjoyed it."

I smiled and nodded. "I completely understand. It was great talking with you." And I walked away to board the plane. 

I saw him at the baggage claim, later. Caught a quick glimpse of his girlfriend. She was standing quite close to him. As if he'd run away if she turned her back. I looked away quickly, so as not to draw attention to myself. God brought my bag down the claim quickly, and I grabbed it and walked away. 

And now... I'll never see him again. It's weird to think about that. But that's how it is with people you meet on flights or during layovers. You chat for a couple hours, then you go your separate ways.

But as I was relating the experience to my mom as we drove home that night, I realized what God's purpose for allowing this young man to walk into my life. If only for a couple hours. To bless him. To encourage him in his time of mourning.

I'm still kind of overwhelmed from the idea that God used me to bless someone. Me? Really, God? You want to use me? It's crazy that He would even consider using me for His purpose. But He did.


Never miss an opportunity for God to use you.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! That was amazing! I never travel by plane (never really had the need to) by myself so I don't get to have experiences like that...but that was really cool. Thanks for sharing!