Melanie Shelton has visited NLC two times. This year, she came for several weeks to help with our annual Holy Spirit Encounter and also spend time working with some of the disabled in the Kitwe community. Melanie was born with cerebral palsy, but she has not let her disability keep her from living life to the fullest. In May, she traveled back home from Zambia by herself and shared a story of how God took care of her along the journey home despite some airplane trouble. Her story is below:
The flight back to the States went smoothly until I was at the Dulles Airport in Washington DC. My plane back to Orlando was delayed three times with a hourly update due mechanical difficulties. It was supposed to leave at 12:30 pm. I have been at the gate since 7:30 AM waiting for boarding on the plane. After 8 hours of waiting, at 3:30 pm, the flight was cancelled.
As I watched the people about 100 of them ran to the front desk, there was a long line of people. I was so tired and I did not feel like standing or sit in a wheelchair because I was tired of sitting and standing. I just prayed asking God to give me strength and energy to deal with the changes. I was going to wait till everyone in the line is served even it means 2 more hours of waiting.
No, God had other plans for me! One lady named Barbara from the front desk and another man named Gabriel with a wheelchair walked over to me - I was still sitting at the gate and praying with my eyes closed. "Ms. Shelton?" I opened my eyes and saw them. Barbara already had the vouchers for the meals and a overnight stay at Hilton Hotel for me and a plane ticket for tomorrow morning at 8:00 am. Gabriel told me that he will take care of me and would wheel me to the Hilton pick up van to take me to the hotel. I just cried and thanking them for doing this for me. I gave them a hug. I did not have to wait after all!
I got to the hotel, there was a lady named Mary standing there with a wheelchair waiting for me to get off the van. She told me that they have a handicapped room on the first floor all ready for me. Mary wheeled me to the room without checking the front desk, Mary assured me that they have the information on me and I was to give her the vouchers which I did. I was so tired and stiff that I had difficulty walking and my balance was poor. Mary saw this, and asked if I was hungry and I said yes. She handed me the menu to order the room service. I ordered a cheese burger and fresh fruit. Mary told me that she is coming back with a toilet kit and a meal for me. I lay down on the bed for the first time in 48 hours with aches in my body. A half of a hour, Mary returned with another man carrying a tray of food. Mary brought the toilet kit and a t-shirt from the gift shop for me to wear in bed.
Mary asked me if I was deaf, I told her yes when I take out my hearing aids. Mary told me that she had thought of this and arranged at the front desk for a person to come to my room and wake me up at 4 am. She told me she also arranged a van at 5:00 am to take me to the airport. I thanked her for everything. I was in awe that everything was taken care of and I did not need to do anything! I thanked God for answering my prayers at the airport so quickly and He gave me so much more than I expected. I looked at my watch and was surprised that it was almost 5 pm. I ate my meal and put on the t-shirt and went to bed, kept thanking God for putting all these people to help me.
I was awake at 2:30 am Friday morning and was marveled at what God has done for me yesterday. I was still stiff but my balance was better. I decided to get dressed since I am still on African time anyway. At 4 am, a man named Joseph came with a wheelchair and asked me if I was ready. I told him I was. He told me that a van is ready out front since they have a lot of people going to the airport. I asked God what is it with all these people with biblical names? I smiled and thanked Him.
When I got to the United terminal, there was another man with a wheelchair waiting for me. I was quickly wheeled through the customs and to the gate at 5 am. I walked around the gate since it had a few people in the terminal. I ate breakfast at Wendy's taking my time. I saw many people from yesterday and many of them asked me how I managed to get the vouchers and get to the hotel so quickly. Many of them asked me if I was okay. I assured them that I was more than fine with a smile on my face. I told them my story what happened yesterday. They asked where I had flown from, and I mentioned Africa. Africa??!! What on earth for? I explained how God used me to help the people with disabilities in Zambia and how hard it was for me to get around. Imagine how hard it is for the people with disabilities to get around. I showed them pictures from my IPhone. One man came to me thanking me for representing America as a good country to help those less fortunate people.
The plane was on time. As I was walking first to the plane, the people stood up and clapped for me. I wondered why they were clapping for me. I never did found out.
I am not afraid of traveling alone because I know God will take care of me. He does and He did take care of getting me home safely!