Woke up at 7:30. Overcast clouds at 900 feet. Perfect!
Grabbed some breakfast, then hitched the shuttle to First Baptist Church in Texarkana. I often appreciate the Sundays that I get off, as I (usually) enjoy heading to church. I did a quick Google check online and picked this one...seemed to be pretty fancy.
Sure enough, the church was HUGE. It seriously looked like a (windowless) hospital from the outside. I was instantly greeted as I walked in the doors, and I said I needed a class. The guy asked my age, then walked me the looooong distance to the Singles 30-35 class. ha. I was only the second guy in there. Either everyone gets married before age 30, or like most other churches I visit, they have very little if any interest in meeting for church from age 22-35.
It was a bit awkward. I sat in there silent for several minutes. Another guy walked in, greeted me, and that was it, too. The class itself was ok...kind of dry...but ok, I suppose. Basic doctrine stuff. We had five total people...all guys...until a chick walked in about 20 minutes late. She also left 10 minutes early. Anyway. I don't know. I am beyond the point of frustration in churches and being a 20-somethin'-year-old, but I'll not divulge into that. Suffice it to say that I wish we had more people that loved Jesus. My age.
Went into "big church" with one of the guys, and that was ok. Pretty fancy really. A fancy choir, a real fancy orchestra/band, and all the flashiness that goes with being a big church. Stuff that I really didn't need, and I found myself with my head down most of the time...either listening to the preacher or the song leader but not needing to or wanting to see him or the screens. A bit too much.
Had a sermon on prayer. Not necessarily untrue but a bit misleading. The preacher said pray in expectation, God answers prayers, and God will give us the "desires of our heart." It's Biblical...I know this. But it was pretty misleading, too...completely centered on the positive side of things. Pray, believe, receive. Pray in doubt, be without. He seriously said that. Anyway, really my ONLY beef with his sermon was that God DOES answer prayers...but that "NO" is an answer just as much as "YES" is. He never mentioned receiving a "no." Only a "later" or "not now."
I asked for a ride home from Dennis, one of the guys from class. On the short 4-mile drive, I shared my beef with him. And he agreed...and he went further. My beef was because of some life circumstances I've been through...stuff that haunts me at the least-expected of times. I kid you not, I was flying just yesterday, and I had a flashback, and my entire body jolted. I HATE IT. I never know when it's coming, and frankly, it just sucks. But anyway, I realize I'm not the only one that's been through what seems like hell...as an old church friend told me..."there is always someone worse."
Well, maybe I met one of those someones. 4 miles. And I learned that he had been engaged. But he got cancer back in 2006...and his fiancee "left him on the bed." He was obviously devastated. He was told he'd be sterile from the chemo, but he chose not to freeze his sperm (yes, he said that!). His family disagreed with his decision. He wanted a wife so bad, and here he was, 30-something, trying to be faithful, trying to trust in God, committing himself to waiting for sex (he told me that, too), and yet not really receiving what he was anticipating. He spent Thanksgiving alone...frying his own turkey...as his family decided not to meet. He was blown away thinking to himself that he's not even sure how many more Thanksgivings he'll get. I listened, I responded, I listened. It was pretty humbling to listen to. He said he sees EVERY morning as a gift. I can vaguely understand that. I don't necessarily live it, but I sure plan to from here on out. I know what it's like to be close to death, and man, it just happens so fast. I want to live life hard. Fill it up. Savor it. And dang it, I want to live in peace. That's my new number one goal. I imagine it's selfish, but I just want peace. Anyway, 4 miles probably altered my life a bit today. I'm thankful for it.
I told him I spent Thanksgiving at Cracker Barrel. Hopefully it softened his blow a little bit. My last words to him were, "Keep on keepin' on."
Walked over to IHOP for lunch with Matt and Dave. Excellent food, easy conversation.
Came back to the hotel, then headed for the Tower. I had called them this morning asking for a tour, and they said sure...at 2:30. We went to the airport, then up into the Tower. This was the third time that I have been in a tour...but Matt's first. We had two controllers, and it was a pretty basic (but slick) set-up. Because of the low overcast, traffic was pretty slow today. They are a VFR tower, and they don't handle too much. They showed us the radar screen, what they see, etc. That was neat to know/see. I kind of knew the basics of it, but it helps me out when I fly, too, knowing what they are seeing versus what I am seeing. Other than that, we just sat and talked about our mapping jobs for about 20 minutes. And then...
"Texarkana Tower, Fort Wort Center!"
"Texarkana Tower, go ahead."
"Texarkana Tower, we have an EMERGENCY, 5 miles northeast of Texarkana Airport. PA-34 had lost an engine, needs ILS approach, negative vehicles."
WHAT?!!! The Tower had been completely quiet up until that point!!! An emergency?! Amazing! Kind of. One of the guys quickly hurried us out...they had business to do. FAA business!!!
We walked down the stairs and headed for the FBO...where we gazed intently out the window. We went outside as the fire truck went over and prepared. Crazy! Every ounce of my being was just talking to the pilot...even out loud! "It's just a simple ILS approach, boy. It's all right. Single engine will get you here. No worries." It's crazy! You just feel for the guy!
Well, we waited about 10 minutes, and then we saw the landing lights. "Come on, boy. Nice and easy." And sure enough, it was!!! He brought it in no problems. Very nice. 4 "souls" on board plus a dog. We ended up talking to the pilot later...said he lost a ton of oil out of a new engine...only 10 hours on it. They were only 85 miles (30 minutes) away from home. But a smart decision.
We went back up in the Tower after that...talked for about 30 minutes more...and just had a good time. These guys were a riot. We saw an American Eagle RJ come in...that was pretty neat to watch. But other than that, we just talked about our jobs and their jobs! One had been a controller for 27 years...the other for 23 years! Both were retired from the military. And both liked it quiet!!! Texarkana is the place for them, for sure.
Came back, went out to eat at the restaurant in the hotel...then read a little bit tonight before bed.
Unsure if we fly tomorrow. The forecast only goes until 4:00 A.M. They don't have a clue what the weather is going to do. Imagine that.
If we do fly, it should be a BIG day for me!!! I'm excited.