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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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ELCA couple finds grace in Newfoundland

Alice and Elmer Haupt — like other travelers — expected a smooth flight home to Alexandria, Va., Sept. 11 after visiting their son in Germany. But their plane, and 37 other jumbo jets, was diverted to Gander, Newfoundland.

After landing, they spent another 20 hours on the plane, for a total of 26 hours on Delta flight 117. Gander, population 10,000, received 11,000 unexpected guests. The Haupts, members of St. Mark Lutheran Church, Springfield, Va., can't say enough about the hospitality they received in nearby Gambo: beds in the school gym, food and supplies galore.

"Each volunteer who paraded to the school came with bags and boxes of food, water, towels, washcloths, toiletries," the Haupts wrote in a letter to The Lutheran. "They washed the used towels and clothes in their homes, prepared more food and returned with new supplies. It was never ending. ... Many townspeople took us into their homes for showers, meals and a place to sleep."

That Thursday, the local Anglican church held a memorial service for those whose lives were lost in New York; Washington, D.C.; and Pennsylvania. By Friday, passengers were wearing down, the Haupts said, but they couldn't complain because of the community's generosity and spirit. Saturday, when called to the airport for their flight home, they "left Gambo with a list of names, addresses, hugs, kisses and tears. Truly God had worked miracles in Gambo. ... God bless America ... and Gambo, Newfoundland," they wrote.


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