We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Flight 147

We boarded our plane, flight 147 from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza sometime around 6pm and were seated at the emergency exit. We listened dutifully to the steward who explained our role in the case of an emergency. At the time we just appreciated the extra leg room.

We were already three hours late leaving. The airline had issues all week and my flight into Dar es Salaam the previous Wednesday had been cancelled, as had Tim and the girls flight on Thursday night. We had all been shifted to other later flights.

Although things hadn't gone entirely according to plan in Dar, it had been a good few days after the rather stressful, busy time the previous week at home. Tim's mum arrived safely from the UK on Friday, and although we keenly miss Dad, it is wonderful to be together with her! We were so well cared for by our friends at Victory Christian Centre, despite the sad loss at the time of Pastor Huruma's sister. Tim was teaching at the Bible School and in the church and we enjoyed catching up with other friends and making the most of a swimming pool! On Monday we were ready to head home to Mwanza.

We peered out the windows, watching the lights of Mwanza get closer in our descent in the darkness. But suddenly, as we approached the runway, we pulled quickly upwards. We circled and climbed and again descended. But again, the landing was quickly aborted. Something was very obviously wrong.

All was very quiet as we seemed to be going different directions at different altitudes. It seemed like a lot of time to think about things. And go through the directions on how to open the emergency doors and slide out. We wondered if there was a problem with the landing gear; were we dropping fuel now? The vast lake was below us and I had just finished my novel about a plane submerged in a lake after a crash and remembered it talked about the "golden hour" for divers to rescue before oxygen ran out. I was sorry I hadn't been able to Skype my family in Canada the previous evening. Tim gave me a kiss and told me he loved me! This sounds terribly melodramatic but really we were all very calm! Everyone was.

After what seemed like a long time, but probably wasn't, the steward went into the cockpit and shut the door. A short while later the sound system buzzed and the pilot proceeded to tell us that due to instrument failure, we were unable to land safely in Mwanza in the dark. He calmly informed us that we would turn around and go back to Dar es Salaam where with better services (I'm thinking ambulances but he probably meant more than that!) we could be guided in for a safe landing.

So we had another hour and half in the sky. We had no way of letting our friend, Dave, picking us up in Mwanza know what was happening. And we felt for our friend, Holly, travelling on the same flight with her daughter, whose husband and other children were also waiting in Mwanza. We found out later that those waiting for us had seen our plane approach and almost land and then pull up and circle. They watched it happen again before the plane disappeared from view. They alerted friends in Mwanza to pray for us. All they then heard was that the plane had an emergency and had gone back to Dar.

We approached Dar es Salaam and again began a descent. It was very quiet as the landing gear lowered and we approached the runway. There were flashing lights around the runway. It was a strange thought wondering what the next minutes would hold. But the pilot did a fantastic job, getting us all safely on the ground with barely a bump. All we could do was clap our hands. Then a relieved chatter broke out as everyone got out their mobile phones!

Arriving in the empty airport at 10pm, we figured we would be waiting until morning for a flight back. We were pretty hungry now too, as we had left before eating any lunch or dinner. But after an surprisingly short time, we were on our way ... boarding the same plane, which we were assured was now fixed! After another hour and a half in the same dark sky, we again started a descent into Mwanza. And thankfully this time, had a smooth, safe landing! Claps and cheers this time from all on board. Amisadai commented to me that she had thought that if she died now she felt happy she had enjoyed a good life. But then added that she thought she had more potential!

We were so thankful to be on solid ground in Mwanza. Thankful for our kind friend, Dave, who came back to the airport in the middle of the night... with coffee cake ... to take us home. Thankful for the wisdom and skill of our pilot. Thankful for life to live another day. Thankful for a God ever present with us who holds all things in his hands!

Maybe next time we'll take the bus! 

1 comment:

  1. THANKFUL FOR LIFE!! So glad to have you safely with us. Love you all. xo

    ReplyDelete

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