It was a smallish aircraft with only two seats on each side of the isle. I had looked at the seat map of the plane just before boarding and saw there was no one booked to sit next to me. To be honest, I began to dream about having all that extra room for the flight and hoped beyond hope no one on stand-by would take the seat beside me.

With this mindset, I started to look at people entering the plane differently. In my head, I was saying as people walked in, “Okay, keep going.” What a great sense of relief I felt when all had boarded and the seat next to me was still empty! Ahhh…now to relax and truly enjoy my flight.

Cell phone saga

But not really. Although no one was sitting beside me, I could clearly hear the two ladies behind me. One was older, and by listening to how she talked I knew she had some major health challenges. Next to her was a young person who was being very kind and gracious to her. Just as we were getting ready to take off, the older lady started to panic because she couldn’t locate her phone. The flight attendant wasn’t being helpful at all, and actually seemed somewhat annoyed with her distress.

On the other hand, the young lady sitting next to her was being very caring and trying to help find the lost phone.

By now, the plane had taken off and the older lady couldn’t stop talking about her phone. People all around could hear of her dilemma and most, I believe, wished she would quiet down. After a few more unsuccessful attempts to find her phone, the young lady next to her said, “Would you like to pray about your lost phone?” I was amazed at the openness of this young lady’s request and was very happy when the older lady welcomed her suggestion.

The young lady offered a beautiful prayer that deeply touched the older woman’s heart (mine too). A few moments later the phone was found! The older lady was so joyful and couldn’t share enough appreciation for her newfound friend.

Hey, I know her

During the rest of the flight the older lady told more and more of her life story to the younger, asking for advice. I was amazed at the young woman’s insightful responses. At one point, the young lady was sharing how prayer had been so powerful in her own life and began telling stories of how God had helped her. It was then I realized I knew this young lady. She was Hannah Abbott, daughter of John and Maria Abbott who live in Lincoln, Nebraska where John pastors.

I was so proud of her! Before we landed, Hannah and her seat mate had exchanged contact information. Hannah promised to send her new friend some books to help with her life changes, and the women promised to call.

As their conversation concluded I couldn’t help wondering what had prepared Hannah to be such a blessing. Certainly it made a difference that she grew up in a loving, Christian home and had many Christian friends. Hannah just finished college and is heading to graduate school now to continue her studies in speech pathology. I am sure that being part of our Adventist schools also contributed to her witness. Already, she is changing her world for the better!

Suddenly I was no longer relishing the empty seat beside me. Instead, I was wishing I had someone I could be a witness to as well.

Thanks, Hannah, for reminding me to serve others as Christ did.