What a great pleasure to travel with my good friend Lynne to the Richmond, Virginia Acquire the Fire event last weekend. We two girls flew American Airlines to tackle the weekly adventure of cross-country travel.
When we arrived in Richmond we were greeted by our charming weekend chauffeur and assistant, Pam. One quick hug from that dear woman and Lynne and I knew we had made a new Virginia friend. As we piled our larger than usual bags and crates into her cute little Sierra, our hearts melded into a common vision: Delivery of a word of hope and encouragement to our eastern POTTs (Parents of Tweens and Teens).
We knew we would work up a good sweat as we struggled to figure out how to assemble our booth, banner stands and lighting equipment. But we were so determined to finish our tasks strong for the Lord.
Lynne is so gifted at administration. She carefully and artistically crafted our displays as she logged in her trusty planner the stock items that I had been trying to remember for several months. I love that woman!
The parents’ session was so rewarding. I find myself more passionate about our mission to strengthen parents with each passing event. As Lynne and I visited with the parents, we could sense God’s presence and His love.
All too soon our whirlwind mission trip was accomplished. With 98 prayer and comment cards in our bags, we told our new friend Pam goodbye Saturday night as she dropped us off at our hotel.
We did not have a way back to the airport for our early Sunday morning flight, so we were relieved when Chip, the hotel shuttle driver, agreed to bend the rules and help us out!
We landed in Chip’s shuttle van at 6:45 a.m. Sunday. We smiled when we realized that he was playing a gospel station on the radio. Then three airline pilots jumped into the van with us, and suddenly the atmosphere seemed to stiffen.
We were quietly listening to an interview on the gospel station as Chip navigated the interstate when suddenly Mr. Prickly Pilot broke the silence with a caustic remark. “Hey, could you get something else on that radio? I can feel myself getting dumber just listening to that stuff.” Every hair on the back of my head stood on end.
Chip politely responded, “Sure,” and changed the station. My mind raced with possible responses to our sky buddy’s rudeness. None of my thoughts for a retort seemed particularly uplifting or edifying, so I wisely chose to keep my mouth shut and pray.
What would cause someone to open his mouth and release such poison? Was he mad at God and running from conviction? Was his remark a racially charged put-down? Was he simply playing the part of a fool by giving full vent to his anger? I guess only God knows for sure. But hearing his further conversations with his fellow pilots made me very glad when I discovered I wasn’t flying with his airline!
Chip sat back in his seat dejectedly after depositing them at their airline entrance. “We liked your gospel station, Sir,” I told him. He clutched a few measly dollars in his hands and said, “I hate having to drive them around. Not even good tippers.”
Chip drove us to our drop off point and we got out. We learned that driving the shuttle had been Chip’s second job, but he had been laid off from his regular job a few months before. “I told my wife, though, that I’m going to continue to be grateful,” he said.
We shared a few words of encouragement with our brother. We thanked him for getting us to the airport, and prayed with him for God’s richest blessing on his family as they wait for the new job.
There we were. Frontline moms. Called upon to lift up a weary fellow soldier. Will we ever see Chip again? Not likely here on earth, but maybe when we all get to heaven we can connect again. And who knows. Maybe Prickly Pilot will meet Jesus and be there too. Hey, that’s what we prayed for!
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