AS TOLD BY CÉSAR MUÑOZ
After enjoying a pleasant vacation visiting my family in the city of Monterrey, Mexico, I was ready to return to the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Mexico City, where I have the privilege of serving. It was Sunday, December 1, 2002. I boarded Flight 190, and we took off at 7:00 p.m.
AFTER a peaceful flight of a little less than an hour and a half, the plane began its descent. Suddenly, it rose sharply, and we were all startled by a terrible noise from below. Next, the captain announced that the doors of the landing gear had failed to open. They were stuck! Very frightened, some of the passengers began to cry. Others prayed aloud. I wondered what was going to happen.
The captain informed us that he would have to take measures to shake the doors of the landing gear loose. So while we flew over Mexico City, he made the plane buck up and down and from side to side for about an hour. That was worse than any amusement-park ride I have ever been on. Certainly it was no fun! Then the captain announced: “We regret to inform you that the doors did not open. The only thing we can do is make an emergency landing without landing gear.” We all looked anxiously at one another, imagining the worst.
Instructions for an emergency landing were given. We took off our shoes, removed anything that could cause injury, and assumed the posture they suggested. I thought that we were sure to crash on the runway! At that moment, I prayed to Jehovah God and a deep calm came over me.—Philippians 4:6, 7.
I had always heard that when a person is about to die, he has flashbacks of his life and thoughts of if only I had done this or that. I was sorry that I had not spoken about the Kingdom to the girl sitting beside me and resolved that if given another chance, I would always take advantage of every opportunity to witness. I also made a quick analysis of my service to Jehovah.
When the plane began to descend, I could see fire trucks, ambulances, and many people standing by. Then we felt a tremendous jolt as the plane hit the runway on its belly. As the plane slid, sparks flew because of the friction of the metal against the pavement. Fire trucks on both sides of the runway immediately sprayed the plane with streams of water to cool it down.
Finally, after some very anxious moments, the plane came to a halt. We broke out in applause, so happy and relieved that the pilot had been able to handle this emergency successfully. Then we were told to evacuate the plane immediately. We quickly went to the exits and slid down the steep slides to safety on the grassy medians.
Standing at a discreet distance and shivering from the aftermath of the experience, I observed the downed plane sprawled sideways across the runway. Fortunately, only a few of the passengers were injured, and that only slightly. In the ambulances nearby, others received medical attention for emotional shock.
My plans had been to get home about 9:00 p.m., but I arrived four hours later. All things considered, I was grateful to be alive! This experience has made me reflect. I had to face up to the precariousness of life. It is humbling to realize that everything can be lost in a matter of minutes. When it seems doubtful that one will survive, it may be too late to rectify one’s way of life or add good deeds to one’s record with God. Now I appreciate much more the opportunity I have to use my life wisely and to make each day count in the service of my God, Jehovah.—Psalm 90:12.