When Heaven Came Crashing Down
That April morning dawned with a sense of anticipation. After months of weeping over the evening news, I had a chance to do something, at last. Our Vietnamese friends had brought letters for us to mail to family, once we got into Saigon. Yes! I had an opportunity and I was going back to Viet Nam, again, to do what I could to help.
Just barely awake, I turned on the radio to hear the latest news. It was the most dumbfounding moment of my life. I couldn't believe my ears. "God! How could this happen? You must have had your back turned...." Then, all I could do was cry. President Ford's "Baby-Lift" plane had crashed on takeoff, the newscaster reported. His voice sounded as grief-stunned as I felt. So many babies, set for new life in new homes, were suddenly gone, snatched away at the pinnacle of hope.
Later in the day I learned that people I had worked alongside at the Saigon orphanage were also on that plane. "Oh, not Margaret, too?" I groaned. Another social worker from Australia, Margaret Moses had joined her friend, Rosemary Taylor, who established these orphanages to gather children in need of families for adoption around the world. I could only guess at the grief my colleagues in Saigon were experiencing along with the families awaiting their babies.
As more heard the news, my phone began to ring incessantly. People from church, from work, weeping, asked me, "Edy, what can we do to help?" The heartbreak of what had occurred seemed to galvanize the American people, no matter what the naysayer politicians advised, to open their arms to those fleeing the fearful repercussions of the war in Viet Nam.
When my dad reached me, his voice on the other end of the line was like a light switched on in my head. "Remember, those babies went to an even better place than America," he reminded me.
My few days back in Saigon is another gripping story, an end-of-the-world scenario, when every moment counted and was too precious to waste. Before I felt ready to leave, my traveling companions insisted we had to go. As it happened, we left Viet Nam ten days before Saigon fell, evacuated on a U.S. Air Force cargo plane (not unlike the Baby-Lift plane) filled with Vietnamese families facing their uncertain future.
Back at home in Minnesota, all my incentive was gone. Would anyone live rather than die if I got out of bed in the morning? Probably not. So, I didn't. I experienced two weeks of utter despair. Everything I did in Saigon mattered. Here, nothing seemed real life, just a Disneyland veneer.
At the end of those two weeks, my brother and his pregnant wife invited me on a double date to the premier showing of "The Hiding Place." I had met Corrie ten Boom when I was stationed at the Army hospital in Colorado Springs. For awhile I had been on her mailing list, but had lost contact, so I didn't know whether or not she was still alive. Naturally, I was caught up in the story of her experience under the Nazi regime of World War II.
But, it was the end of that movie that lifted me instantly and completely out of my depression. I wept with joy to see the real Corrie, walking down the street toward the camera. Not everyone gets the chance to live long enough to see her dream come true. Corrie did, and I was so grateful to God. Then she said words that I will never forget, life-altering words: "There is no pit so deep, but God's love is deeper still."
Written for the "Southern Porch" writing incentive
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