Esther sighed and wriggled around in her seat impatiently wondering when the long flight would end. They were on a direct flight going straight from Toronto to Gdansk. At about five and a half hours through it, they were left with only two and a half hours to go. She sighed again and Mildred looked up from the book she was reading.
"Is something wrong, Esther?" Mildred inquired.
Esther sighed once more, then replied, "N-no, not really. I'm just bored. I didn't know flights like these could last for sooooo long!"
"It IS a long flight," admitted Mildred. "But perhaps if you took a nap it wouldn't seem as long. Besides, it's almost done; we only have two and a half hours to go!"
"I already took a nap, I don't FEEL like taking another." Esther said plaintively, not hearing Mildred's last remark. "And 'sides, I didn't want to go to Poland anyway, I wanted to go to Israel, with Auntie."
Mildred looked amused, but said nothing.
Esther sighed again, and then fell to thinking. After a long silence, she asked rather timidly, "Mildred, why ARE you going to Poland anyway?"
Mildred closed her book and smiled at Esther, "That is a good question. I'm going on a mission trip."
"A mission trip, what's that?"
"A mission trip is when a group of people go out and tell people about Jesus, and how he has saved them. Do you know about Jesus?"
"Oh yes," Esther replied, nodding her head wisely, "Auntie taught me all about him."
"Very good! What do you know about him?"
"Ummm, he was born in a stable and put in a manger...and then, and then--Miss Mildred, what is a manger?"
Mildred giggled, "A manger is a feeding trough for animals."
"Oh. Well, that's what they put him in anyway. Then when he was all grown up he started preaching, and doing miracles, and healing people, and making people alive again, and getting disciples, and lots of things like that. And then, some other people, like the Pharisees, got mad at what he was saying and doing, so finally they killed him. After that, he was put into a tomb, and then three days later, he was suddenly alive again! Oh, and then he went up to heaven again."
Mildred couldn't resist a smile at these last comments. "I'm glad you know all about him, Esther, but do you know why he died?"
"Yes," replied Esther, "he died so that we wouldn't have to, and also to take away our sin."
"That's right," said Mildred softly, "All that is what we tell people when we go on our mission trips. That whole story."
There was a long silence, both of them deep in thought. When Mildred finally looked over at Esther again, the little girl was fast asleep, her head pillowed on Mildred's shoulder. Mildred smiled, remembering Esther's earlier thoughts she had expressed about sleeping. Mildred began to read again, but soon her head nodded and she too fell asleep, her book slipping from her hands into her lap.
" 'Bling!' "
"This is your captain speaking. We will be landing in about ten minutes, so please make sure that all seat belts are securely fastened, all trays stowed away, and all seats sitting up. I hope you enjoyed your flight, and we look forward to seeing you again soon!"
Mildred yawned, and then turned to look at Esther, who was still asleep, although she herself had woken up an hour or so before. She tapped Esther gently on the shoulder, "Esther, we are going to land soon, so you might want to wake up."
"What?" Esther opened her eyes and blinked.
"We're going to land soon."
Mildred laughed, "Yes! Already! See, taking a nap does help."
Esther smiled a little sheepishly, and then giggled, "Yes, I guess it does. Anyway, it's nicer, because then you don't have to just sit and wait."
An hour later, after customs and passport check, Esther and Mildred were finally working their way through the crowd toward the bus stop where they would get a ride to a hotel. Esther's suitcase got stuck in a small crack in the floor, and Mildred dropped Esther's other hand in order to retrieve it, saying, "Here Esther, I'll pull your suitcase for a little bit. Just hold on to the handle." This would have been fine, except right at that moment, a rush of people, who had apparently just gotten through customs and passport check, came sweeping through. Esther's hand was forced off of the suitcase handle. Seeing someone whom she thought was Mildred, she ran after her. Meanwhile, Mildred continued on, but perceiving that Esther was no longer holding on to the handle of the suitcase, she halted, panicked, looked around, then stopped a man holding a briefcase in his hand.
"Excuse me sir, have you seen a little girl with a lavender jacket?"
"Sorry miss, I haven't," he replied with a strong Scottish brogue.
She nodded her thanks and hurried on.
"Excuse me, have you seen a little girl with a lavender jacket?" Mildred asked a woman who looked at her with a confused expression as if Mildred was from a different planet and then kept walking.
"Oh, I forgot, this is Poland. They speak Polish here," Mildred reminded herself. Taking a deep breath, she stopped and asked another woman.
"A little girl? Yes I have seen a little girl," she said in a thick Polish accent. "She is on the bus over there."
"Thank you!" Mildred called gratefully as she rushed off. Reaching the bus stop Mildred realized the bus that Esther was supposedly on, was already some distance away. Mildred was in despair. She couldn't lose Esther! It was her job to keep track of her because her aunt could not. It was her job to return her safely to her aunt. Mildred searched: in the bathrooms, in the baggage claim area, at the information desks; she looked everywhere. She asked anyone and everyone she could. She hunted for Esther until it was dark and she was forced to go to the hotel where she had been expected to meet the rest of her group two hours before. She found them assembled in the lobby, talking together. They looked up as she came in.
"What took you so long?"
" We were worried!"
"I can't find Esther," Mildred said.
A silence followed her statement, then one of the ladies queried, "Who?"
Mildred sighed. "Esther. She is a girl who I found in the airport. Actually, I knew her before in Canada, but found her in the airport in Toronto. She was lost and she couldn't find her aunt, so I took her with me."
"They were coming to Poland?" Anne, a girl from Arizona, who was part of the group, asked.
"No," Mildred replied. "They were going to Israel, but Esther's ticket said she was headed to Poland."
"How in the world did that happen?" gasped Abbie, Anne's twin sister.
"I don't know."
Clarence, a young man from Chester, England, spoke up, "I think it was definitely a blessing from God that her ticket said she was headed to Poland."
"What!?" cried Mildred, for once losing her temper, which was surprising because she was usually very quiet. "A blessing from God? Because she lost her aunt, had to go to Poland instead of Israel, and now is lost again? All this because I didn't keep track of her!" Mildred burst into tears.
Anne put her arms around Mildred sympathetically, and said softly, "Mildred, Clarence is right. If you hadn't found Esther the first time, she would still be lost in the airport. If her ticket hadn't said she was going to Poland, you would have had to go through a whole hassle in order to take her with you. And even now Mildred, there is still hope that we may find her again. Remember, God is always, always, in control."
Mildred nodded and dried her tears, saying, "I'm sorry. I am so silly to not remember that, he surely is in control, always."
With that said, the rest of the group, nodding their agreement, dispersed to their various rooms, deciding to talk it over more fully in the morning when they met their translators.
Still more to be continued!