Accompanying Jesus during a trip

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Anthony Chan

I am used to daily mass, but when traveling it is not always straightforward to find a church with early morning mass before the daily work and to figure out how to get there. I am thankful that I was able to attend mass each day I was in Singapore. I am also thankful to the brothers and sisters there who would be going to meet me in the hotel early on Saturday morning to bring me to a church near the hotel and also to take me to their church for Sunday mass and a sharing on adoration in the afternoon in Mandarin. I even came to know that most churches in Singapore have a beautiful adoration chapel, and many have daily adoration. The graces of Jesus is so abundant. The small discomfort encountered earlier no longer matters because He has given so much. He continues to grant these graces even in seemingly impossible conditions and in despite of my weaknesses. As I recall the wonders and graces from Jesus this week, I can no longer hold my thankfulness but be overcome with tears to see face to face and to unite with Jesus in each mass there.

I had a week of meeting in Singapore. I was taking flights to leave Dallas on Thursday morning and to connect twice to arrive on Friday midnight. After spending the first night in the second leg, we were scheduled to stop over Tokyo on Friday afternoon. It was 30 minutes towards landing there when earthquake occurred in Japan so that we had to spend an additional night inside the plane. During that time, the plane had detoured to refuel and to park elsewhere but the ground facilities were limited during such emergency in the country. The food supply and water were not prepared for that long, and half of the toilets had broken down later. We were strained inside that plane in this leg alone for 31 hours, during which I was also troubled with eczyma. I had eczyma for many years, and it had deteriated so much in recent years that it had affected many parts of the body. I understand that eczyma is nothing but only reminds me of Jesus scouged and afflicted so much that nowhere can unharmed skin be found. With eczyma, scratching can only worsen it so that the difficulty is to deal with the the urge to scratch when feeling itchy. With much use of medication, I still need the strength to overcome this urge in prayer. As I am reminded that there are many temptations that have caused many souls to fall, I realized that I can offer such small discomfort to Jesus as I pray for souls who may fall into prey of the worldly temptations. Although it seems I cannot do anything physically when being strained, I understand that in prayer I am actually working as I join the spiritual war against evil.

Communication was paralyzed throughout the country at that time that I was unable to communicate with Singapore. So it caused the brother to come to the hotel to look for me not realizing I was still strained in Tokyo.

The plane had finally landed in the Narita Airport before noon on Saturday. Yet we found that the airport floor was the only place to spend yet another night when many flights were canceled and no hotels are available. The only thing the airline company can do is to rebook for their own future flights. Their next flight to Singapore will only leave on Sunday evening. It became apparent that I would not be able to meet the Chinese church in Singapore on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Airline had helped me to call the church in Singapore to tell them about the delay. It was then necessary to cancel the sharing on Sunday afternoon.

I did not give up, and I ask Jesus to make it happen if that is His will.

A friend also connecting to the same flight as mine from Tokyo Narita to Singapore had landed in Tokyo before the Earthquake. He was in the airport when the whole building shaked, things fell, and people screamed. He had already spent the Friday night inside the airport but could scarcely sleep owing to numerous smaller aftershocks throughout the night and earlier building evacuations. He had already spent the whole morning on Saturday talking in vain to the Airline to seek help to re-route or to find a hotel.

The Airline company don't have any alternative routes, and does not contact other airline companies to seek other options to route the passengers.

We decided to do the searching on our own, and ran back and forth to different airline counters to ask flight information and availability. My friend finally found one other airline company with seats available to leave on Saturday night. Yet the local airline staff are not authorized to change the ticket for us. My friend used his cell phone to call the airline headquarter in USA while I was praying. He talked for a very long time but the customer support insisted that natural disasters are not their responsibility. He changed from talking to yelling until he was able to speak to a manager.

After spending 2 hours with his cell phone, they did re-ticket us for the Saturday evening flight to Singapore. I checked in the hotel at 3:30AM on Sunday. The church members came to the hotel to meet me at 9:30AM that morning. After having already called people on Saturday to inform them about cancellation of the Sunday afternoon sharing, they decided to call some people again on Sunday morning. It was not easy because the Chinese masses in most churches started early at around 8AM. It was too late to make sunday announcement and many people live quite far away. They realized that many people could not be reached in such a short notice, but they still tried.

I thank the spirituality team of the Commission for the Apostolate of Mandarin Speaking for hosting. I had caused them a lot of trouble, and I pray that Jesus reward them abundantly with even more graces to accompany Jesus. With their help, I was also able to participate in the Stations of the Cross event in Singapore attended by nearly 500 people. I did not forget the Cantonese Catholic there. I was leaving early Friday morning, and with the busy work and meeting, the only time I had left is Thursday evening. Being a weekday evening and with the long commuting time for most people, it is not convenient to meet the Cantonese Catholics. Yet they managed to find a meeting room in the church, and managed to set up the projector in the last minute.

A week later, my return flight makes stop over Tokyo again. The flight time is long, but at least half of the time can be spent in prayer, meditation, and rest. The discomfort in the long flight is really nothing compared with what the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor leakage victims are going through. Many of them have lost everything. As we pray for these victims, we may also pray for other souls who are putting all their trust and hope in worldly treasures but can lose all of them overnight. They can be as poor as the tsunami victims. Everyone will lose everything anyway in this world when we leave. Only love is eternal, and Jesus is love. It is so sweet to accompany Jesus truly present in the Eucharist. In the long flight, I cannot attend mass but I thank Jesus because I can still receive Jesus spiritually to immerse in His love. As I accompany my dear Jesus spiritually, my soul hungers more to physically accompany Jesus present in the Eucharist.

For the next week, my legs were hurting from the lack of circulation on the plane, and my voice was also affected probably owing to the long flight time. However, I am so thankful that my legs and voice were normal when I did need to use them in Singapore.