Not shipwrecked like St Paul, but Storm Ciara did leave me stranded.

Airport chaos as strike in Italy causes flight cancellations

My guest blogger this week is Miranda who last weekend was trapped in Malta……………

Not shipwrecked like St Paul, but Storm Ciara did leave me stranded.

“Are we going to land now?” said a very excited little boy to his parents.  I go unusually quiet (for me) at take-off and landing. On Thursday morning 7th February the plane landed at a warm and sunny Valetta.  The island has ‘opulent’ churches and I was there as preparations for parades and festivities to celebrate the ship-wrecked Saint were being set up.  You can read the Biblical account of St Paul on his way to Rome to stand trial here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+27%3A27-28%3A5&version=NIV

Little did I realise that a few days later the flight home would be delayed several times over. Announcements were not forthcoming and most information was gleaned from passengers on other flights.  Storm Ciara had sent European airspace into chaos with diversions to many different cities. In the onset of a storm back in the UK and an unknown departure date or time people began to rally to make friends.  Most trips take place with strangers who stay strangers but I believe there was a plan- (there always is even if we don’t see it at the time). The excited little boy entertained us with his unbounding energy and street dance moves.  I later found out that his parents were celebrating their honeymoon. John from Germany (working in London), Ian and Wendy from South Africa discussed should they buy dinner at the airport or wait to see what the airline might provide.

4 ½ Euros and a bottle of water had been given to us at lunchtime but now it was nearly 8.30pm.  As Ian went to see what was left from the Airport food court Wendy shared that she had recently had a pace-maker fitted and had wished she had brought her walking aid. She shared she was struggling more than she wanted to let on to her husband. She didn’t want to worry him. The airport floor was beginning to look like a distinct possibility for the night and so I suggested that she put her feet up on her suitcase for a while.  John shared that he thought the Brits were very good at being positive and making the best of bad situations. He also did the most brilliant impersonation of Boris Johnson who he had met at some traffic lights in London! Finbar and June were in their 80’s. Finbar was determined to go everyone on his 2 sticks but when a few us asked for additional assistance he didn’t refuse.

By now tiredness was showing and folk on timed medications were beginning to become anxious.  All kinds of bureaucracy meant that ‘luggages’ could not be returned until a formal decision between airports had been decided. All I could do was pray and ask others to pray! Thank you God for wifi and Whatsapp and a group of prayer warriors from RBC!

When the airport and airline realised there could be consequences to medication not taken by those with epilepsy, heart problems and Parkinson’s they arranged with the airline to ‘reschedule’ the flight for the next day and the airline arranged to take us to a 5* hotel overnight.   In fact we arrived before the email from the airline and were met by a very bemused concierge who watched in shock as we hauled ourselves and bags through revolving doors into a marble atrium and gathered at the reception desk to a rather stunned looking Manager. A dance troupe from Chichester made themselves at home on red velvet chaise longues and gold chairs while their tired but ‘oh so proud’ tutor lined up with their 25 passports hoping that there would be room for them all.

So why tell you this? A storm may divert you off your chosen course but remember who is ultimately in control.  Not sure if you are an optimist but I would urge you to consider that even storms can be an opportunity to do good. We are told in Hebrews 13.2 to offer hospitality and entertain strangers and that we may never know when we may have done so with angels. When the plane got to Gatwick late on Sunday evening there was not a peep from little Harry as he was sound asleep but there were genuine hugs of appreciation as we said our goodbyes. I was even able to pray a blessing over the young couple as they went on their way. Storm Dennis is on his way over the next few hours – how will you do good in his wake?

N.B. Names have been changed

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