Friday, August 19, 2016

The Girl at the Airport

   Gloria, a Jehovah’s Witness senior citizen came home to Manila for a vacation in January, 2016 at the height of the ‘Laglag Bala’ controversy.  She was so wary that she wrapped her Coach purse in paper then covered it with duct tape.  She checked-in a one regular size luggage securely locked after watching the YouTube video of how easy it is to open zippers with ball pen or pencil.  
   When she arrived in Manila, a female airport employee in white security uniform with a handheld CB Radio hanging on her belt caught up with her as soon as she passed the immigration and security counters.  The airport employee offered to help her with the wheeled luggage she dragged around.  Gloria respectfully declined the offer.  The woman continued to walk with her until they reached the spot where arriving passengers awaited their pick up.  They sat on the bench provided for those with last name that starts with the letter ‘C’.

   They sat facing the four meter wide curb and the street that brought in the cars picking up arriving passengers.  Fely wasn’t where she should be.  The airport employee asked Gloria for the phone number of the person picking her up, her cousin Fely.  She offered to call Fely because Gloria did not have a cellphone roaming in Manila.  Their call kept going into Fely’s voicemail.  After several tries, they gave up.

   All the airport employee’s kindness made Gloria more fearful.  She asked herself “why is this woman hanging on to me?”  An hour later, Gloria decided she would stay put, sleep on the bench if necessary, until Fely comes to find her.  She remembered an old friend who worked as an airport porter.

   “Do you happen to know a porter named Mario?  He’s Jehovah’s Witness,” she asked the airport employee.

   “Are you a Jehovah’s Witness?” the airport employee replied, without answering her question.

   “Yes, I am,” Gloria said.

   “Are you a Regular Pioneer?” the airport employee asked.  The term Regular Pioneer refers to an organization ministry privilege in the Watchtower organization.

   “Are you a Jehovah’s Witness?” Now it’s Gloria’s turn to ask the airport employee.

   “Yes, but I have recused myself since I married a non-witness man.”

   “Were you disfellowshipped?  Were you reprimanded?”

   “No, but I felt I no longer belonged there,” the airport employee sadly replied.  Gloria guessed that the woman might have heard some unkind, judging words from fellow worshippers.

   “Are you legally married to the man?” Gloria asked.

   Yes.”

   “The very first Jehovah’s Witness I met said something that stayed with me.  He said, “Humans judge each other harshly than Jehovah himself.”  I also married a man who was not a Jehovah’s Witness.  I am still a Witness to this day.  Jehovah owns the organization.  You are not in the organization for anybody else other than Him.  You deserve to be there if you want to stay.” Gloria said strongly to the sad woman.

   Immediately after that conversation, Fely came walking towards them saying, she had walked back and forth past their bench less than four meters away but didn’t see them.  Neither did Gloria and the airport employee see Fely.  Amazed at the implied miraculous mishap, Gloria and the airport employee stared at each other.

   Just as it says in Ezekiel 34:11,“For this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says: “Here I am, and I myself will search for my sheep, and I will care for them". 

   “You see how much Jehovah wants you back?  Fely and I could not find each other until after we’ve had that talk.  You need to go back to being a Witness now,” Gloria said, the airport employee hugged her, both of them close to tears.  

   “whatever our hearts may condemn us in, because God is greater than our hearts and knows all things” (1 John 3:20)

   Gloria, in the stress of travel or maybe due to a senior moment, forgot to ask the airport employee’s name.  She hopes they find each other again on her next trip home.

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