Feb28ThuFebruary 28, 2019
I wake up at 3:50 a.m. to start my day. It is cold, minus 21 degrees Celsius kind of cold. My first thought before I step outside is to wonder if the car is going to start. This morning it did start, but it is cold for 21 of the 42 kilometers I drive to the airport. I arrive at the airport, and fortunately my first flight is on time. When I get on the plane, I don’t dare take off my coat because the temperature inside the plane is close to the temperature outside the plane. They close the door, and I am grateful the flight is actually on time. I think this is going to be a great day! I am flying south; where I am going, it will be much warmer!
I arrive in Toronto, go through security and immigration and things are running smoothly. Departure time was supposed to be 8:10. As I write this sentence, it is 10:28, and we are being de-iced, which is a good thing. About 20 minutes ago, we were told that we were going to be indefinitely delayed because of a frozen fuel valve. The captain has not come on to give us an update, but they must have gotten the valve to open because I heard the engine start. (There is still a mechanical side to my mind; most people around me probably didn’t even notice that the engine had started. Some things stick with you!)
My most memorable delay included my family. It actually happened before we ever joined TWR. We were living in Nanisivik, in the Northwest Territories. For those of you who don’t know our history, we spent three years on the northern tip of Baffin Island. We were so far north that the sun went down in November and never rose above the horizon until the 1st of February. We actually did have eight months of winter, and, for most of those months, the temperature was between -20 and -40. It was cold (you can read about these early years in the Arctic here). Twice a week, if the weather was good, Nord Air landed in Nanisivik in a specially equipped Boeing 737. Many times, the weather wasn’t good, and it didn’t arrive at all. The planes carried passengers, but that was secondary; cargo was the main reason they flew. They would literally fill the plane with whatever was needed to keep our little community operational. This was the only way we could get supplies.
On this trip, we were so excited! It was during the dark season, and we were headed south for a vacation. Our terminal was a building that was probably seven metres by seven metres, not large at all and not much to do there. We had two young children and had gone to the airport early. The plane landed, and we thought this is going to be a great day. We are going to leave on time. Then they opened the cargo door to the plane. They had put a big piece of machinery on the plane. Getting that thing off the plane was going to be a real challenge. The men who loaded it had not accompanied the flight. Also, when it was loaded in Montreal, they had all the right equipment to load it onto the plane. We were very quickly delayed, and then delayed again … and then again.
The cargo door had been open for hours which meant that the inside of the plane was getting colder and colder. Finally, the piece of machinery was off the plane. Then they made this announcement: “If you are a passenger, please make sure that you are dressed for cold weather because the inside of the plane is now -40 degrees Celsius.” What?!
Finally, we got on the plane. The engines were started, and we taxied out of the 4,000 foot long gravel runway. It took every foot of that to get the plane off the ground. Finally, we were soaring into the air. We would have clapped, but we were just too cold! About two hours later, it was finally warm enough to take the snowsuits off our children. The kids were hungry, but we were informed that they didn't have enough meals for everyone. Things were going from bad to worse. Then we hit a head wind, and it was going to take an additional two hours to get to Montreal. This flight was turning into a nightmare.
We obviously made it to Montreal or I wouldn’t be writing this story. The flight attendants came up with a solution for the meals. They actually took the children to the back of the plane and shared their own meals with them. The kids thought it was one of the best flights they had ever had at the time! They were pretty young and have since had better flights, including when they were upgraded to business class on KLM on a flight from Bonaire to the Netherlands.
Through all the flights where there has been a delay, I have learned that being late by a few hours isn’t really such a big deal. Getting there safely is far more important.
So, what is the lesson in all of this? So often we are in a big rush, not just in our day-to-day lives but even in ministry or our Christian journey. As I have gotten older, I have come to realize that we have our own ideas of when things should happen. We have our schedule, but our timing is not always God’s timing. God has his own schedule, and no doubt you’ve seen many verses in Scripture that support this.
God’s timing is always perfect, and everything happens in his time, not our time. Flight delays no longer bother me because, just as in all areas of life, in the end God will work everything out in his perfect time.