SCHOOL TEACHER'S LETTER : APOLLO 13 RESCUE


April 10, 1980

Your story has called to mind a precious incident which I would love to share with you. On that mid April day in 1970 I was teaching a class of fourteen special education children. They were very, very special to me.

Along with the entire nation, my little flock was following every move of the ill-fated Apollo 13. On the morning of that last eventful day, little Wanda, freckled-faced and red-headed, burst into the school room ahead of her classmates with this report: "Oh! Teacher, the newsman on TV said that even if the spaceship does get back to earth it will land right in the middle of a real awful storm and our men will be killed anyway."

Fear is infectious but so also is faith. With a prayer in my heart, I calmed the children with the beautiful account of Christ's stilling the tempest on the Sea of Galilee. They listened breathlessly as I closed with the verse - "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever."

Then, I remembered saying, "Children, I don't know about you, but when we bow our heads this morning and talk to God silently, I'm going to be asking Him to either stop the storm or move it away from the landing spot." Heads bowed, eyes closed and lips moved silently, but I knew every little heart was in agreement with their teacher.

The day moved along much as usual. Lunch came and went, and we were in the midst of penmanship class when a fifth grader knocked and entered the room with this message: "My teacher said to tell you that Apollo 13 has landed safely." I thanked the little messenger and even as he departed my little flock, as one, had dropped their pencils and with heads reverently bowed were thanking God for answered prayer.

Penmanship class ended, and we were back at the table striving desperately to discover the relationship between pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and halves. Suddenly the door opened, and a very wise sixth-grader burst into our midst shouting, "My teacher thought you and your kids ought to know the astronauts are out of the capsule and safe in the helicopter headin' back to the big ship - Everything is A.O.K. No sweat!"

When he was properly thanked and had departed, little red-headed Wanda asked, "Can we hold hands around the table - like when we ask our noon-time blessing and can we sing the song the Pilgrims brought to America?"

At Wanda's suggestion, we all stood, joined hands, and with bowed heads fourteen little children, all with I.Q.'s under 80, sang -


"Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."

And the teacher - Well, her lips moved but her voice was so choked with tears that no sound really came.


This page was updated: August 18, 2009.

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