Sunday, October 16, 2011

MY FIRST TIME: Episode One: This is your captain speaking...

Back in my days as a vocational youth pastor/minister/guy, it was positively trendy to take members of one's youth group on short-term, cross-cultural mission trips...get the little whiners out of their comfort zones and show them a piece of the world that doesn't have instant access to high fructose corn syrup.

I sincerely wanted to jump on the bandwagon, and felt like I should have a similar experience myself, so I could recruit student participation with a modicum of integrity. Therefore, Beloved and I signed up to participate in a Christ In Youth (CIY)-sponsored/organized trip to Panama.

The fund-raising was fairly easy. It seemed that everyone in the Southern-Indiana congregation in which I was employed was more than happy to see us go...though several were trying to limit the funds coming in to the price of a one-way ticket. Hmmm...

Funds acquired, bags packed, and prayers said, we boarded our plane in Indianapolis, with plans to fly to Miami where we would switch planes and continue on to Panama City.

About halfway through the plane's ascent, we all heard something - a definite ka-chunk of some sort. I would even go so far as to say that I felt something as well...and not just the warm puddle that formed in my lap, but a disturbance in the Force.

Nobody said anything, and I was cautiously looking in Beloved's direction to Make Sure She Wasn't Alarmed, but when a co-pilot-looking youngster quickly toddled from the front of the plane to the rear, jingling either some keys or prayer beads in his hand, my keen intellect told me that something just might possibly be amiss.

Immediately, the plane went through a series of turns and banks that would have made the great Waldo Pepper jealous. I was about to ask for my third cartoon-decorated air sickness bag (Vomit Envelope; Hurl Holder; Puke Pocket), when the plane's intercom crackled into life:

This is your captain speaking. We appear to have sucked a red-tailed hawk through one of our jet engines while taking off. The ground crew at Indianapolis International Airport report they have found MOST of the bird. There doesn't appear to be any damage to the plane or any negative effect to our controls, but we're going to turn around and land back at Indianapolis so we can make a visual inspection.

You may be surprised to hear this, but not one person out of the hundred or so of us on that plane stood up and said, "C'mon, ya sissy! What are you afraid of? Let's GO for it!"

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