" I implore you, my child; observe heaven and earth, consider all that is in them, and acknowledge that God made them out of nothing (ex nihilo), and that mankind comes into being in the same way..." 2 Maccabees 7:28

Friday, March 7, 2008

My plane ride home from Medjugorje

The following is the email I sent out following the trip home from Medjugorje:

Hi, all-
> > Hope you had a wonderful trip home and are not finding the "re-
> > culturization" process too painful. It has been said that when one
> > returns from such a mountaintop experience as we did, that there are
> > often challenges for us immediately upon returning. In this line of
> > thought, I wanted to tell you about my experiences getting home from
> > Washington to San Francisco.
> > At the DC airport I found that all flights into SF (except for my
> > own) had been cancelled due to weather conditions. Our plane took off
> > 6 hours late and about 3 hours into the flight our pilot announced
> > that the airplane navigation equipment was malfunctioning , so due to
> > the extreme weather conditions in San Francisco we were going to head
> > to Denver to change planes rather than attempt the flight into the
> > planned destination. We landed in Denver and waited another 3 hours
> > until a plane was ready for us. We boarded again and set off on our
> > flight. As we were flying over the Sierra mountains our pilot issued
> > a direction for everyone to return immediately to their seats- he said
> > we were on the honor system to put our seat belts on as all the flight
> > attendants needed to be seated as well. About 5 minutes later, the
> > turbulence hit. It was strong but everyone remained very calm. Then
> > we dropped. There is really no other way to explain it- we just
> > started falling and fell silently for 3-4 seconds; it felt as if we
> > were a paper airplane unsupported by any air current, just dropping
> > silently and swiftly. At this point, people started screaming. The
> > fall halted and more turbulence hit; this turbulence felt as if it
> > were shaking the plane from the front; the nose appeared to be
> > pointing downward and then jerking up again rapidly. The turbulence
> > was extreme; some overhead bins started opening and suitcases were
> > falling into the aisles. Then we dropped again; more screaming and
> > babies crying all over the plane. I felt strangely calm during it
> > all- praying my rosary slowly (though I confess I was not
> > concentrating on the mysteries...). We did 3 such drops (although
> > none so prolonged as the first one) followed by extreme turbulence.
> > During all this there was not a word from our pilot or crew, we had no
> > idea what was going on. After about 15 minutes of this the turbulence
> > lessened and about 30 minutes later we heard the clunk of our landing
> > gear coming down- on looking out the window we could see that we were
> > pulling into a landing strip with fire engines on either side of us.
> > Ironically the landing was so smooth it barely felt as if our wheels
> > were touching the ground at all. Finally the very shaky voice of the
> > pilot came over the loudspeaker with the 3 words "we made it" then the
> > intercom clicked off again. Then a minute or 2 after the flight
> > attendant, also in a breaking voice announced that we were in Salt
> > Lake City. My whole body was now shaking uncontrollably- we got off
> > the plane and by 3:30 in the morning were all put in hotels for the
> > night and booked together on an additional flight for the following
> > day at noon.
> > We all arrived the next morning- there were a few empty seats and a
> > different pilot, but other than that the crew and all the passengers
> > were the same as the flight before. We discussed with nervous
> > laughter the events of the previous day. Weather conditions were
> > good- we took off from Salt Lake without a hitch and San Fran was
> > reportedly cloudy but other wise good conditions. The flight was
> > uneventful until the last 30 minutes. Suddenly the pilot announced
> > that were all to get into our seats again on the honor system; we were
> > beginning the descent into San Francisco. Then turbulence. As soon
> > as the first turbulence hit, I heard the man behind me beginning to
> > hyperventilate loudly and my heart beat jumped. Suffering from the
> > post trauma of the flight before, it is difficult to say how bad the
> > turbulence was this time around, but people were hugging their knees,
> > holding hands and sittting in absolute silence trying to remain calm.
> > The plane again began dropping (but nothing like the night before).
> > Then we heard an explosion, felt the plane jerk slightly and saw a flash of
> > bright, fire orange light; not a word from pilot or crew. We
> > continues falling and more turbulence, this time no one was crying-
> > the whole plane was silent. After a few minutes we came beneath the
> > clouds and could see the city spread out beneath us; I had never been
> > so happy to see it before but we still did not know what was going on.
> > The turbulence lessened and our landing gear came out; upon landing
> > we all clapped, some cried. The flight attendant finally came on- in
> > a teary voice she said " I don't know about all of you, but I am so
> > thankful to be home" She said that she had never been on a flight
> > like this; everything possible had gone wrong on this "harrowing" 2
> > day trip. A team of men was outside checking the side of the plane-
> > the pilot confirmed that we had been hit by lightning. When I got off
> > the plane I felt my knees wobbling and as soon as I saw my sister and
> > friends waiting at the airport I started crying. I am so thankful to
> > be home. I can't help but feel that our lives really were preserved
> > that day.
> > So anyway, I'm not sure what all your experiences have been upon
> > arriving home. My sister, after a safe trip home came down with a
> > raging stomach flu and high fever. So all this to say I guess we can
> > expect trials; we have to fight for our faith; it is somewhat
> > therapeutic to write these experiences all down. I hope you all are
> > doing well- please keep in contact and know that you are in my
> > prayers.
> > Love, Faith.


Xerofall said...

Oh my... I've been reading history about plane crashes and the foresic study of what went wrong.

Makes me fearful of flying... but to have that happen twice!!! Wow...

By the way... if you're ever in SLC again for the night... PLEASE call me and we can visit or grab some dinner or whatever. I realize that night wasn't the best time to have a friend over... but if you're ever in need of a place to stay, my wife and I have a huge 3 bedroom house all to ourselves... we'd love to have you over for a visit...

Just as long as it's not a near plane crash that brings you back.


Chris said...

Oh, Faith - wow - what a frightening experience! I fly more than I'd like to for business and have had some bumps but never anything like that. I was glad to hear you're recovering well - and that the surgeon's hands were guided by the grace of God. It's hard not to thing about a connection between your flight and what you're going through now. In some strange way it may even have been a comfort to you - as if God was reminding you, if I can get you through THAT, you can trust I will get you through THIS. God bless you, Faith. Your courage and faith in this are inspiring.
-Chris G