Tuesday, January 20, 2009

His Grace and Overpowering Love

Departing from Houghton, my trip to Newark was a harrowing one, to say the very, very least. This was a journey that consistently and unrelentingly tested my faith and forced me to look to the only one who could help me.

Having stayed at my roommate’s parents’ house for a night and some of the day, I was driven to the Rochester bus station by Mr. Doty at 7 pm, to arrive at 9 pm to pick up a Greyhound ticket I had already purchased. Upon arriving there, he asked me if I had everything. I assured him that everything was quite alright, and went on to get my ticket.

Showing the woman at the front desk my purchasing number, I was given a ticket. Greyhound buses only allow one large piece of baggage per passenger, and since I had already gone from Toronto to Rochester, I was prepared when she informed me that it would be ten dollars for the other bag. Heading back to my handbag and rifling around inside, I realized that I did not have my wallet.

This was only the beginning of a very long trip, and the first of many challenges to come my way. I responded in the logical way and searched through every single bag and possible pocket; I found nothing. After praying fervently I worked up the courage to ask a man sitting nearby for his cell phone and called the Dotys. Mrs. Doty told me that I had forgotten a sweater, and that inside a pocket she had found the wallet. There I was, sitting in the bus station, waiting for a bus, without a single dollar.

What happened next was the first of many blessings, and a complete and total surprise to me. The woman at the desk came out and gave me two tags to stick on my bags, saying something about their being handwritten and it being alright. Confused, I returned to the desk and asked about paying (I was fully ready to write a check, because I had stuck my check book into my back pocket for some reason before leaving). She then went on to explain, in words that I can’t recall, that it was alright.

After thanking her, and still overcome with gratefulness, I boarded the bus and proceeded to thank God for what he had done, asking that this woman be blessed a thousand times over and that the rest of my trip continue on smoothly, in spite of not having the resources to get beyond the Newark bus station.

Our bus arrived at a bus station in Syracuse, where we had a short stop. Sitting in the bus station for over thirty minutes, I took out my ticket and realized that I didn’t leave until 1:15, contrary to the 12:15 that I thought I had heard the driver say. Minutes upon minutes went by, and standing up and staring at a screen, I realized that my bus was delayed to 2:15. I sat, straining my ears to every announcement that could possibly be for a bus to Newark, and finally approached the front desk. After hearing my question about the Newark bus, the Greyhound employee told me that I had just missed my bus.

To be more specific, he had made the last announcement “just two seconds ago.” I sat down at a bench and combed my fingers through my hair. I couldn’t believe what was going on. It was almost 3 in the morning at this time, and I had no idea how I was going to get to where I needed to go.

The second blessing happened when the man came from behind his desk and told me that he would put me on another bus. He asked for my ticket, left, and came back, telling me that there was a bus to leave in twenty minutes, and that I had better listen this time. I thanked him profusely and waited for the bus to be called.

Throughout this entire time I had been praying, asking for guidance and for the perseverance to get through all of this. Sitting in the bus, I pulled out my Bible and started the next chapter of Matthew I had lined up to read. It was the 24th chapter, and the second chapter section was “The Day and the Hour Unknown.” I was struck with how this was, and the whole situation of not knowing when I would get to Newark, or how.

I woke up to the bus pulling into the parking lot of a Dunkin Donuts, and the driver talking on his cell to someone, describing the sounds the engine was making, and the burning smell. He told us that the bus had broken down, and that we would have to wait in the Dunkin Donuts to keep out of the cold.

Sitting there, for two and a half hours, I pulled out my Bible again and read the next chapter. Matthew 25, verse 13 says, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” Having read this I felt admonished, yet encouraged, that I could be prepared and go on. Finishing off the chapter with “The Sheep and the Goats” I was reminded that I was chosen, and set aside by God, and that he would help me through everything.

Having climbed onto the other bus I stayed awake and aware, ready for anything to happen. I slept on and off, but never more than half an hour. Arriving at the bus station in New York City, I carried my two pieces of luggage across the entire station, making it to the next bus. Suffice to say, Newark was the first stop, and I was dropped off right outside of the bus station there.

Lugging my bags inside I set up next to a number of ATM machines. My Bank of Montreal card had been placed inside my handbag instead of my wallet after trying, and failing, to create a PayPal account. I had tried it several times at a machine at the Syracuse bus station, but had been met only with a message informing me that the transaction could not be processed.

Finally, there I was, in Newark and without a dollar on me to get to the airport. Lo and behold, the first machine refused my card despite accepting the pin number. Praying under my breath I approached the second machine and gave it my card. It worked! I withdrew a pretty large amount of money and proceeded to the information counter to find out how to get to the airport. Learning that the best way was by train, I bought a ticket and proceeded to take on the two flights of stairs to get to where they were, luggage in hand. ***

To make a long story just a little bit shorter, I got to the Newark airport safely. Once there, I waited for hours before being met by friends who took me to everyone else. My original ticket would have had me arriving in Newark at 5:40 a.m., which would probably have had me at the airport by 7 a.m., at the latest. I arrived at the airport at around noon. But here I am, sitting on my bed in London, England, barely jet lagged and happy about it.

Oh, and to really end the story off, my wallet was given to a student departing from Houghton, and was given to me at the airport. Good news, all around. I made it to Newark only by the powerful grace of God, and have not stopped thanking him since. May this little (sort of) story be a message to all of you that his love overpowers all.

Below is a picture of me, finishing this email.