My Holy Help on a Difficult Day

It has been a very long day, but I must write about it.  My day started early, waking at four this morning.  Those who know me know that four is not unusually early for me, but what was unusual was that I had to start travel just a little before five.

At the Zurich airport the agent at check in did a double-take and laughed that I was going to “Coca Cola”—Kokkola, Finland.  I was somewhat surprised that she had never heard of it, but wrote it off to her being young and therefore probably new to the job.

Everything went fine for the first and second flights, and I got my bag and was about to exit the airport when I saw the information desk.  I thought it would probably be best to get their advice on how to reach the B & B that I’m staying at.  The man looked at my booking and said, “This is for Finland.  You’re in Sweden.”  With my heart doing summersaults in my chest, I looked at my flight papers, and sure enough, there were three flights.

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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?  Was Sweden trying to tell me something?

My dad was, well there’s no other way to say it: an idiot.  But he was a genius at finding the funny stuff even in the midst of his difficulties.  Being my daddy’s girl (and therefore also an idiot and a genius), I couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of not even knowing what country I was in.

I hadn’t realized that I would need to get my bag, exit, and check in all over again.  With the check in agent’s assurance that the bag was checked through to Kokkola, I probably would not have gotten my bag if I had known about the next flight[1].  So the information man looked at his computer and told me that I would be checking in at desk number three in about 20 minutes on NextJet.  The last flight had very few people on it.  The hostess was Canadian because NextJet is run by a Canadian airline, so it was comforting to hear her familiar, distinctly North American English.

When I landed in Kokkola I got my bag and exited into the smallest public airport I’ve ever been in.  It has one gate, one baggage claim belt, a café, and very little else.  There was a woman holding a sign with a whole lot of writing on it and one word on the sign was taxi.  It took me a moment to realize that she would be the person to get a ride into town with, so I followed her out the door, but she got into her taxi and left.  I stood outside and waited for about an hour.  There was a bus stop and a taxi stand, but no buses or taxis.  Finally I went inside and tried to call a taxi, but my Italian phone didn’t work.  I saw that the next flight arrives at 7:30PM—in 2½ hours.  What to do?

I saw a man sitting on a chair across from the car rental place.  Should I rent a car?  That would solve the problem of how to get to Helsinki in time for my flight at noon on Sunday (these difficulties suddenly made the distance between Kokkola and Helsinki very real and very frightening).  But the man was not a car rental agent.  I asked if he could call a taxi for me, and he did.  They told him that they would be there in about half an hour.  But just as he finished ordering the taxi for me a taxi pulled up, delivering a passenger.  I thanked the man and he explained that he had called a different taxi company for me.  The driver called the other company and canceled the taxi for me.  Then he took me into Kokkola—thirty minutes away.


As you can see, in mid-April there is still snow on the ground in Finland.

When we arrived at the B & B it was locked up tight.  The taxi driver was kind enough to call them for me.  The owner was only about ten minutes away.  She let me in and showed me around, and then asked for payment in cash.  I hadn’t realized that I needed to pay in cash.  I told her I didn’t have the money.  She said, “Just leave the money and the key in your room when you leave, and close the door.  It will lock behind you.”  I couldn’t believe that she was trusting me to get the money to her.  My experience with B & B owners is that when they want payment, they want it in advance or you’re not staying there.

So two things I needed to do:

  1. Get cash to pay for my room, and
  2. Get my travel to Helsinki settled.

But the evening meeting was probably already starting, so I needed to get to the church where the prayer conference is being held.  My GPS took me on a long trip way around on a car overpass (one that had a sidewalk), and then told me to go on the off ramp as if I were a car.  I couldn’t safely do that.  But I found a bike/pedestrian path that would take me under the highway and over to the side where I needed to be.  So even though my B & B is only about half a mile as the crow flies, the GPS took me on a three mile winding trek.  By the end of it I was footsore, weary, and about to cry from the relief of finally finding the place.

I arrived at the church just as worship was ending.  I saw a familiar face right away: Amiina, who I had met in Rome in 2010 for Transform[2].  I had seen her a couple of other times.  We hugged, but couldn’t really speak much because of the meeting.  I found a seat closer to the front, next to a woman who saw that I was understanding nothing.  She began translating until someone brought me a device to listen to the official translator.

The pastor started off talking about when you get angry, frustrated, and scared, you’re forgetting who you are in Christ.  I knew that this was a word for me.  I had actually begun to give myself a pep talk, but was having trouble believing my own words.  So this was like God saying to me: “Silly girl!  Did you really think I would abandon you?”  To be honest, it’s moments like these of being lost in a foreign country where my phone doesn’t work that really scare me.  And it’s exactly this kind of thing that I suspected would be in my future if I gave up my apartment to follow God.  But as I write this I think it’s exactly for the purpose of training me to stick close to Him that God told me to give up my apartment.

Then as soon as I got my translation device I heard my name as a foreigner who had come to support Nordic Prayer.  So I smiled and waved.  Honestly, I don’t remember a whole lot about the rest of the meeting due to exhaustion.  But afterward the woman next to me, my original translator, told me that her name is Leena, and that we had met before.  I was shocked.  She said that we had met in Åland two years ago.  I could see that she looked familiar.  I think that I just meet so many people in my travels that I hadn’t remembered meeting her.

And the person who had introduced me from the pulpit was Isaiah, who had organized the Operation Capitals of Europe trip to Stockholm, Åland, and Helsinki.  This was beginning to feel like a family reunion.  But there was an even bigger surprise in store for me: Leena told me that the owner of my B & B was here at the meeting, and she was offering me a ride back.  I had suspected that she was a believer when I saw that she had Gideon Bibles in the house.

So after a long, difficult, exhausting, frustrating day came blessings—big, beautiful blessings!  And even though I still need to get cash to pay for my room, and get my travel to Helsinki settled, I know I’ll sleep just fine.  God really has got this!  God is good!

[1] Proof that what they say is true: God takes care of children and idiots.

[2] With OM (Operation Mobilisation).

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