Saturday, September 10, 2011

On 9-11-01, I Was...

In Yaounde, Cameroon - in the seventh week of being away from my wife and the comforts of home, I received a phone call in the middle of my Bible Class.  I took the cell phone from our Education Director, Peter Thomas who lived near Bremen, Germany, stepped out of the bare, ground floor room where 20 Africans were learning more about the Bible and our church, into the hallway of our national overseer's home.  Pressing the phone to my ear I heard my wife's trembling voice, crying between words, trying to tell me, "We've been bombed!  They've bombed us.  They've hit the twin towers in New York!"  I heard myself responding, "It's o.k., honey.  It's o.k.  We're gonna be o.k.  The Lord is still in charge."  My only regret was that I could not reach over and touch her, at least to give her a reassuring pat on the arm.  I wanted to take her into my arms and just hold her.  I somehow knew that if I could be there with her, her spirit would settle down and she would feel comforted.  But, from 10,000 miles away that was impossible.  When she was sure that I had the message and realized the somberness of the moment, then we talked of how and when I would be home.  All flights into and out of America had been cancelled.  We had no idea if and when the planes would fly again.  For all we knew this was the beginning of WWIII . 

After the phone call, I announced to the class what I had learned over the phone.  After a stunned few minutes of silence the national overseer of our church asked if I wanted to cancel all the classes.  My response was, "What would we do then?  Since we are all here present, and I could not board a plane for home - why not continue doing what we believe the Lord called us to do?"  So we continued our normal schedule without a hitch.  God is in control. 

I saw many things happen over the next few days that confirmed to me beyond a shadow of any doubt that God was in control of my life.  He protected, blessed, strengthened me and those with me in very special ways.  Bishop Iniobong Ukpe went to a neighbor and arranged for us to get cable TV brought into his home for the next few days so we were able to hear all the reports that were being broadcast on CNN.  It gave us a feeling of being connected with the world. 

When I went to the ticket office on Saturday we were told that I could not stop in Switzerland because too many Americans were waiting there to go back to the US.  I had to buy a ticket on to some other place - so I invited myself to go home with my German colleague.  My bags were checked to Bremen, Germany.  It's a long story.  But - In the end, I was able to leave Cameroon a day earlier, changed my flight plans, and arrived in Atlanta on the first day that planes were allowed back in the USA.  Because of this emergency, I had to buy a different ticket from Europe, and the only seat left to buy was in 1st class!  Since my bags had to be re-routed to Atlanta, they delivered both suitcases to my front door in Cleveland, TN so didn't have the hassle of going through customs with the suitcases!


jack69 said...
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jack69 said...

Thanks for the entry. You have been separated many times and for much longer, but to have an tragedy like 9/11 happen is terrible. I have been reading over the incidents and it brings back a lot of feelings as it does to you, Frances and many wonderful folk.
WE sympathaze and pray still for the folks who were physically touched by the tragic terrible terrorist acts. As you said after all God is in Charge.

Love you Fred our love to Frances and the family.

After the attacks and the acts of our Gov't that day and the days after about flights. I thought of the many folks stranded, never thinking that YOU were among them.
I( had to cancel one comment BAB spelling etc.

Melanie said...

It's hard to believe it's been ten years since that incredibly sad day. I'm glad your wife was at least able to call you. How difficult that must have been for you to be so far apart. I'm glad you were able to make it home safely.
I'm so thankful God has everything in control. Nothing catches Him by surprise!

Ginny said...

What a story! I think none of us will ever forget where we were. When I was young, the question was always "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?" Now an even worse question. So frightening to be separated at a time of disaster, no one knowing what was to happen next...

Joyful said...
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Joyful said...

Wow, Fred, you have some special remembrances of the day in history that will forever be etched in our collective minds. I remember it was still very early on the west coast. I awoke and turned the television on before work as usual only to hear of the horrors happening in NYC. I was glued to the television for hours and I did go into work but I remember going in late. Things have not been the same in the world since then but one thing is sure, God is still in control and we can take some comfort in that.

George said...

We were in the Carribean on a honeymoon cruise. We heard the first reports in the morning, but went about our scheduled activities for the day, getting fragmentary reports -- some of them true -- periodically. There was a serious question as to how we would get home as well. We finally were able to fly from San Juan to Atlanta. The Atlanta airport was nearly deserted, and I'll never forget the sight of armed soldiers patrolling the terminals.

Tabitha said...

So glad to read your story. I wrote mine on my blog. Love you and am so grateful that God protected you then and protects us all now.

Cher' Shots said...

Fred ~ you just made my day when I read your comment on my blog about how you thought THOM's name was T-H-O-R-N. Believe me, as much as I love the man every once in a while he can become a 'thorn' under my saddle. But that will be our secret. LOL
'love & hugs from afar'

Fred Alton said...

Ha. Cher, I'm sure that Thorn would appreciate that! ☺

Ooops! I mean THOM!

About Me

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Cleveland, TN, United States
I am Fred Alton Brannen, the son of Louis A. Brannen (deceased) and Bonnie Jones Brannen, Louis was an Ordained Bishop with the Church of God. Bonnie is an Ordained Licensed Minister and at 89 years of age is still actively engaged in speaking and singing engagements. I am married to the former Frances Hildreth. We celebrated 53 years of marriage this past June and we are the parents of 3, grand-parents of 10, and great-grandparents of 10. I pastored in Tennessee for 24 years and served the Church in some capacity in missions for over 23 years. I retired from full-time ministry in August of 2008 but remain active, speaking and singing and teaching whenever opportunity affords itself. In January of 2010 I received a letter of commendation for having been credentialed as a minister in the Church of God for 50 years! My family is very important to me. Our get togethers are always noisy affairs and most times will include family sing-alongs. The children love their Mom's cooking so we have the privilege of seeing them regularly! WE LOVE having them over.

TheCabin on Day One

TheCabin on Day One
Fred Alton