Cars whoosh by. I sprint along the road dragging 21.9kg behind me and 7.4kg on my back.
Was it only this morning that I was in Bangkok waxing eloquent about God as the ‘Divine Coach’? God doesn’t accede to every request as if we, who are NOT the powerful ones, have any right to demand a comfortable life. His plans are bigger. But now the rubber hits the road … the soles of my well-worn sneakers and the wheels of my battered suitcase.
My flight to Beijing was two hours late. I had breathed a prayer that there would be tickets available for tonight’s short flight home. There were! I headed towards the check-in area. The ticket salesman called after me. “Ma’am, China Eastern have a new check-in counter just opposite.” He pointed towards the exit and my heart sank. They must have moved to Terminal 1 – the brand new domestic terminal. “Quick – you only have five minutes to check in.”
And so I had sprinted out the exit and along the curving elevated road.
I grumble as I run, then catch myself. I thank my Coach for the ticket, for the chance to build trust, for the wheels on my luggage, and then, as the blessed sight of a door into a covered walkway with an almost empty people-mover comes into sight, for His kindness in giving me a little help.
Throwing myself and 29.3kg of luggage at the door hurts. Yanking doesn’t help either. I continue my run with the traffic.
One minute to go. My bag does a high jump over the sharp speed bump and I’m in! I dash to the information counter. “China Eastern – where?”
“Number two.” The man nods in the direction from which I’ve come. I see a window marked ‘K2’. It is also marked ‘Xiamen Airlines First Class’ and has a red carpet and flowers. Running to it, I slam my ticket on the counter.
The man glances at the ticket. “China Eastern leaves from Terminal 2,” he says flatly, nodding towards the mouth of the covered walkway.
Running inside the connecting passageway now, I puff a prayer to the Coach for mercy. Emerging into the familiar scene of Terminal 2, I am arrested by the unfamiliar sight of the new China Eastern check-in counter. It is, strangely enough, directly opposite the ticket stands, next to the exit.
I weakly toss the ticket on the counter. The girl looks up. “Check-in for your flight has closed.” She points with her chin towards the ticket stand. “Go change the date on the ticket.”
“Date? Are there no more flights tonight?”
She shakes her head. I lug fifty tonnes of stuff to the ticket stand. The China Eastern fellow looks up with a friendly smile, which quickly changes to a puzzled frown. As I pull off my sweater, revealing a sweat-soaked T-shirt, his face wrinkles in concern ... or is it my armpits? “Please be careful. You’ll get sick in the cold air.”
“You said ‘opposite’. You said ‘hurry’. Terminal 1 is opposite. I ran. Now I’m too late.”
With a plea to the Divine Coach, I pound this nice young man to mush with my helpless-female-who-is-about-to-cry expression. He talks to the ticket seller from another airline. The two of them become very busy on their computers. Taking a new ticket from the other guy, the China Eastern fellow turns it over and draws a map of the airport. “There is a flight at 8.15pm. Check in now. Do NOT leave this building. Go to counter H.”
With profuse thanks to both the nice young man and my Coach, I drag ninety-nine tonnes of junk the short distance to counter H. Joyfully, I then head to Starbucks unencumbered. It isn’t until I’ve savoured the fragrant drink and cleared security that I realize it is almost time to board the flight and break into another run.
Last aboard the shuttle to the airplane, I’m surprised to hear my name called. It is ‘Lisa’, a young woman who came to faith several years ago and has since moved to Beijing. We are delighted to meet again.
I can almost hear the chuckle of our Divine Coach. It seems that all along it was His plan I catch this later flight, be an encouragement to my sister, further develop patience and trust, recognize His kindness yet again, plus burn off some excess fat and build up muscle all in the one workout.
What a Coach!
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