Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Hurricane Sandy Testimony…
Filipino Missionaries Head Out on Greece Mercy Mission Despite Storm
By Bill Bray
ASSIST NEWS Service correspondent in Charlottesville, Virginia
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (ANS) -- Ivy Sanchez Bray and her missionary brother Juanito have left on a mercy mission to Greece despite many obstacles – including Hurricane Sandy.
Dawn had not yet broken over Charlottesville. It had rained all night as the trees waved ominously in the chilly winds. Today, Hurricane Sandy would hit and shut down everything down on the coast for two next two days. I had to go now or never.
On Monday morning as I prayed for the day ahead -- and for my planned “visa run” into Washington -- Salem Radio Network from DC warned everyone to stay home. I didn't even know yet if the Greek Embassy would be open when I arrived, but I knew they normally closed early in the afternoon even in regular weather. I had to make it before they closed for the day even though fear and doubt told me they might already have done so. Their recorded messages were standard and made no allowance for the hurricane. However, it takes over two hours to drive even in normal weather.
So, if I was going to go on faith, I had to leave now to get that passport with its new visa for the visiting missionary who was staying in our home. The metro, buses and all public transportation had shut down. In fact the capital had shut down for the storm. Businesses were closed and boarded up. If I arrived during the storm I would have to seek shelter and maybe spent the night in the city.
I took the chance on going anyway, leaving a voice message for the Consulate, explaining that I was starting into the city and asking them to call me if they were going to be open. I prayed. My family prayed. The missionary prayed. His plane was scheduled to leave Tuesday night but all three Washington airports were closed.
Our only hope, a second miracle, was that we would be able to put him on a flight to Chicago from Charlottesville and connect to Heathrow via Chicago so that he didn't miss his other flight to Athens. Two intercontinental connections costing thousands of dollars hung in the balance -- and this mercy mission involved a life and death situation on the mission field.
We all believed God would do a miracle with the flights, but even if he did, we would still have to have that passport. So I decided to risk the travel while my wife Ivy stayed home on the computer trying to reschedule the flights.
On the road I got the call from the Greek Embassy in reply to my voicemail messages. They were closing immediately but the Counsel himself would wait at the embassy if I would get there soon.
“When are you coming? What time will you arrive?”
I told them I was in the car on my way and would get there as soon as possible.
“Hurry,” said the attaché and hung up.
As I neared the city, there were more emergency vehicles than cars on the road. 40 and 45-mile-per-hour gusts blew several cars off the road and caused spin outs. Under battleship grey skies I arrive on embassy row but it was a ghost town. The streets were empty. Washington was abandoned. Surreal. I had never seen it like this before.
As I pulled up nearly three hours later, I could see the embassy was closed. I parked my car in the street and waited. Not sure what to do. Soon, the security people from the embassy called me on my mobile phone. They must have spotted me.
“Are you here? Where are you?”
“I'm here,” I said.
“Come and get your passport -- I'll meet you at the gate in security. The embassy is closed.”
A distinguished man pushed the passport through the bars and the door slammed shut. I thumbed through the pages. There it was. The precious visa we had worked and waited for days to receive was stamped and sealed into the passport.
I was on my way. The storm delayed me even more on the way back, turning the two hour drive into five. But prayer was answered. On the way home I found out that thanks to God and Hurricane Sandy, the airline had indeed re-booked the flights through Chicago to London in time to meet the next flight -- and what's more, our two missionaries who had been on separate flights before the storm were now on one flight. To all of us, it was a miracle no less amazing that the Lord stilling the wave on Galilee.
Bill Bray, 65, is a mission’s author and frequent contributor to the ASSIST News Service. He specializes in covering international student ministries and foreign missions. He has traveled to over 65 countries as a missionary journalist to report on missions and development ministries, returning to some countries as many as 30 times over the years. He can be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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