Jonahs by Jet

Journey by Jet

“Flight 567 to Detroit is now boarding at gate eight!” The voice vibrated over the loudspeakers.

“That’s us!” David and Keri sprang to their feet, struggling into their backpacks. They quickly hugged Grandpa and Grandma Goodbye before trotting down the long hallway to the security check point. David and Keri piled their packs on the conveyor belt. Then they followed Dad through a special gate with a metal detector.

“BEEEEP!” a loud alarm startled everyone as Mom walked through. Mom looked embarrassed as the officer searched her, with a hand-held detector. “BEEEEP!” It blared again at her head. “Oh! It’s my hair clip!” Mom laughed as she felt the large metal barrette in her hair. The officer waved her on.

The first flight was only a few hours. Then the whole family hurried through the airport to catch their next flight. Soon the flight attendant of the second plane handed out kids’ flight magazines with colored pencils and a little gold wing pin to wear, just like the pilot’s. David smiled a Thank you to the flight attendant who served orange juice and peanuts. After the snack was cleared away, Keri colored her magazine while David read stories and played a travel game.

“Vegetarian meals?” the flight attendant asked David and Dad as she passed them yummy looking platters of colorful vegetables and rice.

“Hey, what about us?” Keri asked Mom.

Mom asked the flight attendant about two more vegetarian meals, but the flight attendant shook her head sadly. “I’m sorry, I don’t have any more vegetarian meals on board. Would you like beef or chicken?” Keri wrinkled her nose. She had never eaten meat.

“Chicken, please!” Mom answered. After the flight attendant left, Mom whispered in Keri’s ear, “We can take the vegetables and bread off these trays and leave the meat. I’m sure David and Dad will share with us too.”

Keri sighed but she didn’t complain. She remembered what Dad had told her. “When life serves you lemons, make lemonade!” Keri knew that meant making the best out of problem situations.

By now, it was past Keri’s bedtime. Her eyelids began blinking as if they were weights. She kicked her shoes off and scrunched into a little ball on her seat with her head on Mom’s lap. Soon she was dreaming about Africa. David found a good sleeping spot on Dad’s lap.

David and Keri woke up to the smell of breakfast. After gobbling down orange muffins and yogurt, David and Keri played travel games and read stories. It was getting harder and harder to sit in their cramped seats. David’s legs were just itching to run! The flight attendant served juice once more, and then a crackle sounded over the speakers. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We will be landing in Amsterdam shortly. Please return your seats and tray tables to their upright positions. The local time is ten a.m.”

“Yeah!” Keri squealed as she bounced on her seat. “Soon we’ll be in Amsterdam. That’s Holland, isn’t it, Dad? Will we see any windmills or dikes?”

“No, sorry!” Dad smiled. “We’ll just see the inside of the airport for a few hours!”

The Amsterdam airport was clean and bright with lots of shops. David eyed the tulip pictures and the cheeses packaged in little wooden shoes.

Keri thought the bathrooms were neat. The toilet flushed automatically as soon as Keri hopped off! And the sink seemed to have eyes. It turned on like magic when Keri put her hand under the spout.

It seemed like David and Keri waited forever in Amsterdam. Again and again, the flight manager announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are sorry to announce another two-hour delay in our flight to Lagos, Nigeria.”

“On no!” Dad and Mom looked at each other with tired eyes and shrugged their shoulders. David and Keri groaned. When they finally boarded the plane, Keri was so hungry! She was very glad to see the trays of crackers and fruit and cheeses wrapped in pretty foil.

David could see the dark sky—their second night on an airplane! “How much longer, Mom?” he asked, yawning. The flight dragged on. At last, the captain announced their landing in Lagos.

When the airplane doors slid open, a moist heat rushed into the plane, and, by the time David had dragged his suitcase to the airport desk, his shirt was soaked with sweat. Long lines of people waited impatiently to show their passports to officials in dark green uniforms.

“Mom, I have to go to the bathroom,” Keri whispered. Mom and Keri found two doors with pictures of African people.

“Hmmm,” Mom bit her lip in decision. “Is the woman the one with short curly braids or the one with the hat?” Keri and Mom scanned the airport. Most of the women had some kind of head cover, so they decided to try to door with the hat. “Oops!” Mom laughed with embarrassment, “Wrong choice!” They scooted next door.”

At last they managed to collect their eight huge totes and waded through the crowd toward the door. As they stepped out into the Nigerian night, a noisy group of men rushed around them competing to carry their baggage. They were very glad to see Dr. Sanders with two smiling African friends walking toward them. David felt much better now that he knew someone in this foreign place!

On the way to the van, David saw a limping girl holding out a tin can. There was a blind man being led by a small boy too. “Mom!” David tugged on Mom’s sleeve. “What can we give these people?”

“I don’t have any Nigerian money,” Mom hesitated.

“I know! How about our airplane crackers and peanuts?” David rummaged through his backpack and shared some snacks with the beggars. By the time they reached the church guest room at one o’clock in the morning. It was dark and hot, because the power had gone out. Dr Saunders loaned them a “torch” (flashlight).

Mosquitoes buzzed near Keri’s ears, but it was too hot to hide under the sheets. “I’m thirsty, Mom!” Keri complained.

“Hmmm. We can’t drink the water from the faucets here, and I didn’t think to bring bottled water,” Dad said, “I’ll borrow a bottle of water from Dr. Saunders.” Soon Dad returned with refreshing drinks.

The next morning they drove with Dr. Saunders out of the busy city past mango and banana trees, toward the small town of Ile-Ife. When they turned in the gate, David noticed the red hibiscus flowers and coconut palms and a beautiful flowering tree that smelled good. When they stopped the car at Dr. Saunders’s house, four happy children bounced out the front door.

“Here are Aaron, Sara, Andrew, and Seth.” Dr. Saunders introduced them from oldest to youngest. The children smiled at David and Keri. It didn’t take long to become friends. All six children played happily, making forts while their parents visited and unpacked.

As Mom tucked David and Keri into bed in the guest house that night, Keri was thinking out loud. “Mom, I think I know now what it will be like when we get to heaven!”

“Tell me!” Mom sat on the bed to listen. “Well, this world is like the long trip we just took. There are hard things, like when the plane was late or when the flight attendant forgot our vegetarian meals. But when we get to heaven, it will be like the end of the trip! It will be beautiful like the flowers here, and we’ll have lots of new friends.”

“That’s right, Mom agreed. “And best of all, our friend Jesus will be waiting for us!”

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