what a trip!

By: ewhite422

Jun 19 2010

Category: Uncategorized

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Our guest from Florida had experienced so far the anxiety of flying in a small plane after the dead battery was charged with jumper cables, landing in that same small plane in Mexico City after an earthquake of 8.1 magnitude, and finally, taking cover during the 7.5 aftershock on the evening of September 20th.  So on Saturday morning, when my husband suggested we fly to Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, John probably thought it to be an excellent idea.  After all, it made sense to get out of crippled Mexico City, and, besides, he had arrived in the country to check out how our churches were doing, in order to report back to the ministry executive committee, so this would be the next logical stop.  He had no idea that the trip would be the scariest experience yet.

We loaded up again and headed south.

I sat in the back with my daughter and son, ages 5 and 3.  I admit that I was looking forward to being in Oaxaca, where dear friends and church members always made us feel welcome.  It would be good to give them news of their friends in Mexico City, since they would all be beside themselves with concern.  This was in the day when none of us had cell phones or used the internet like today.  So they had no way of knowing about their friends’ fates.

We had made the trip dozens of times.  As I recall, it usually required about an hour and a half, the last half of which was over a high mountain range with peaks over 8,000 feet, where there was no radar available, and pilots had to fly using just their compass.  (this has probably changed today)  It always worried me, but I was assured by my husband that it was no big deal…he was quite capable of holding a direction, as he was an instrument rated pilot. 

I swallowed my fears, but when I saw the large cumulus clouds sitting atop those mountains as we approached, I knew we were in for turbulence.  Some of the clouds were grey in color, and I knew they would be the worst.

“Can’t we go around them?”  I shouted, over the drone of the engine.

“No, we’re going through!” he yelled in response.  Then he joked, “We’re going to check our ‘thunderstorm penetration.'”  John turned from the copilot’s seat and we exchanged looks that said, “We’d better start praying.”

Sure enough, I really thought we were going to die.  The plane was thrown up and down in so much turbulence that I saw my husband struggling to even keep his hands on the controls.  We were right over the highest mountains in the very spot where only our compass set our direction.  I looked at my children.  They were so little they did not know the danger we were in, and I was furious with myself for having put them in this position.  And I was livid with my husband for requiring me to be there.

Suddenly, the plane caught another updraft and then came banging down (I won’t use the word, crashing).  I am normally a calm person, but I confess, I was screaming by that point.

Finally, we got past the turbulence and the plane maintained its altitude.  Our hearts were racing.

“That was some moderate turbulence,” my husband shouted. 

“Moderate!” I yelled.  “That was severe!”  I wanted to kill him then and there, but that wouldn’t have been “Christian.”

We landed in Oaxaca to our relief, and after we had the chance to tell all our friends about church members in Mexico City, our visiting minister said, “I believe I’ll go home now.  You people are wearing me out!”

I laughed and said I didn’t blame him.  We put him on a commercial flight to return to Florida, cutting short his trip.  The ministry never sent anyone else to Mexico to check on us again.

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