The word rang out, piercing my brain like a screeching whistle through a bad headache. “Impossible.”
Around two hours earlier, I had been approaching the Atlanta airport on I-85 when we got a message from Frank, our Visiting Orphans trip coordinator. The first leg of our flight to Ethiopia had been cancelled. Immediately, Frank began doing research and did an awesome job of sharing our options with us. But it didn’t look great – there was only one flight into Washington-Dulles that would get there in time, and there were only a few seats left on it.
The next few hours are a blur. When we arrived at the airport, I ran in to try and get changes made while Macy and Jenny circled the drop off area. Another team member, Grant, arrived. As it appeared we might get on that flight, his parents helped us get luggage out and take my car to a parking space. There was just all sorts of teamwork trying desperately to get to Washington on time, because there’s only one flight a day to Addis Ababa and we so wanted to get to the children of Korah.
It turned out that there the seats on the flight we wanted were gone by the time I got to the counter. The agent said our only option was to shift to a Delta flight that arrived at 9 am, about two hours before our departure to Addis on Ethiopian Airlines. Sounds great except the Delta flight was going to the wrong airport! We would have to land, get off the plane, collect our luggage, find transportation, ride across town, and check in all over again for an international flight. Huh?
And so there was that word. Impossible. When we got to the Delta counter, the agent said it couldn’t be done. She said we needed to look at other options to get us there by another airline and/or another city. Amsterdam. While I was on the phone with Frank (who continued to give us outstanding guidance), Dubai was suggested. (Macy and Jenny loved that idea!) But regardless, she thought we were crazy to try our plan. We. Would. Not. Make. It.
I write this blog post from seat 37D on flight ET501 to Addis Ababa. The scheduled flight. Because with God, all things are possible.
It was an amazing adventure that unfolded, and we marveled at God’s provision, literally laughing every time something happened that never happens:
- We got boarding passes for row 10 (the very first coach row) allowing us to be the first off the plane.
- The plane landed 20 minutes early.
- When we landed, we found out that Grant’s cousin would be waiting to pick us up and rush us to Dulles.
- Traffic was very sparse… in Washington, DC!
All in all, we got to our gate before boarding had even begun. And we laughed out loud, giddy with what we had just seen. The great thing that God had wanted to do was to teach us that impossible should not be in our vocabulary this week.
Some would say it’s impossible to make a difference on this type of short-term mission. Seven Americans flying to the other side of the world, simply to spend time with children and let them know they are loved – how could that possibly make a significant difference? How can a single week of semi-organized chaos change the lives of children living lives of extreme poverty? But now we know. With man, yeah, impossible. But not with God. And so we go. And be. And love.