On Sunday, August 17, 2008, I was in Miami International Airport waiting for my flight to Santa Cruz, Bolivia. I was starting my journey as a student missionary to South America, eager to see what adventures awaited me.
But my wait was a little longer than expected, almost 10 hours longer; my flight was delayed because of mechanical problems on the plane. As my fellow passengers and I waited, every hour or so an announcement on the status of our plane went something like this: “Attention, passengers of American Airlines flight to Santa Cruz: we are working on the mechanical issue, and we hope to be on our way shortly.”
We would all sigh as the announcement was repeated, every so often, with no departure in sight.
Since we were several hours past our original boarding time, the airline gave each passenger a $10 meal ticket to purchase dinner. Great! My stomach was beginning to rumble. After buying my food, I looked for a secluded place to sit and eat. I sat in a chair in a hallway, hoping no one would stop to talk to me. However, in just a few minutes a well-dressed woman sat in the next chair. Her crisp, white blouse and navy blue skirt told me that she was a flight attendant. We greeted each other and sat quietly for a few minutes before starting a conversation. Her name was Abigale.
God used that experience so long ago to bless and encourage me when I desperately needed it.
After chatting casually about the weather and our destinations, Abigale began telling me about her father, who was very sick at the time. She shared how stressed and frustrated she was with the doctors who didn’t seem to be helping her father. As she told me about her struggles and fears, I sensed God telling me that I should pray with her. After mentally arguing with Him, I reluctantly agreed and asked if I could pray with her. She was thrilled!
After I prayed for her and her father, she thanked me, expressing how happy and amazed she was that I had offered to pray with her. “So many people are ashamed to pray these days,” she said. We exchanged phone numbers, hugged each other, and went our separate ways. As I walked toward my gate I thanked God for helping me let go of my fears and obey His voice, even though I argued at first.
I had some unforgettable experiences in South America. After almost a year I returned home to Tennessee to find a job and prepare for the coming school year. I was experiencing the effects of reverse culture shock, along with some other emotional struggles.
Even though I found a job and a great deal on an apartment, I grew more depressed every day. One rainy day as I was driving, I felt so depressed that all motivation seemed to be sucked right out of me. After I arrived at my lonely apartment, my sadness was so deep that I felt there was no reason to live. If this is what my life is going to be like, I thought, then I want no more of it.
That night I muttered a prayer: “Dear God, don’t bother waking me up in the morning.”
Eventually I fell asleep. Much to my annoyance, it was soon morning. I was not the least bit excited about the prospect of seeing another day. I lingered in bed, dreading the moment I had to get up and face my depression all over again.
Just then I was startled by my cell phone announcing that I had received a text message. Who in the world would be texting me at this hour of the morning (9:00 a.m. felt early to me)?
I opened my phone to see who had texted me, but didn’t recognize the number. But the message made me literally jump out of bed.
“Be the kind of woman who when your feet hit the floor each morning the devil says, ‘Oh, no, she’s up again!’ Sister, life is too short to wake up with regrets. God never said life would be easy. He just promised it would be worth it.”
I was so invigorated by that message I immediately thanked God for bringing me the encouragement I needed at just the perfect time. My next thought was, What mysterious person sent me this text message?
With growing curiosity I replied to the mystery number. I tapped out, “Thank you.” Then: “Who is this?”
I waited for a reply, and waited. This was Monday. Tuesday passed. Then Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Still no reply.
That Sabbath I enjoyed being with friends at church. However, I kept thinking about the mysterious text message. Who had sent it? After lunch I checked my phone and saw a text message! It was from the same number that sent the encouraging message.
I opened the message and read: “I met you at Miami Airport in 2008. I am a flight attendant. We exchanged numbers. I was a bit weary, and you took my hands and we prayed. My name is Abigale.”
Immediately tears came to my eyes as I realized how God had used that experience so long ago, one I had almost forgotten, to bless and encourage me when I desperately needed it.
At that moment my friends approached. When they saw my tears, one of them asked, “Are you OK?”
“Yes,” I said. Noticing their confused looks, I told them the story of the mysterious text message. Later I replied to Abigale, telling her of my surprise and gratitude at receiving her message. Then she responded with a voice message. It was so encouraging to hear her voice, knowing that she appreciated the time I took to listen and pray with her. She was also glad to hear that she had encouraged me.
We kept in touch for a while, mostly through forwarded inspirational messages. Eventually we lost touch. We may never meet again. All I know is that I’m glad I listened to God’s voice inspiring me to reach out.
Mayri Cruz lives near Chattanooga, Tennessee, and enjoys singing, hiking, and traveling.