Grant says 'miracle' of God brought her home

By Greg Miller
STAR STAFF

   Kathy Grant says it's a "miracle" that she returned to the United States from a mission trip to Constanta, Romania.
   Grant, who teaches children's church at the Church of God of Prophecy, left Elizabethton Aug. 27. She returned Sept. 17, six days after terrorist-hijacked planes exploded into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field.
   "The terrorist attack happened on Tuesday, and we were supposed to come back on Wednesday," Grant recalled. Grant's niece, Cindy Hamilton, called her from Hudson, N.C., to break the news to her. She turned on CNN as the second World Trade Center tower imploded.
   "I thought, 'I can't believe this,'" Grant said. "Then I thought, 'Things like that can happen anywhere, but not in America.' I felt dead inside. Then I thought, 'I need to be there. I don't need to be here. I don't want to live here the rest of my life. I need to go home.' "
   After the attacks, Constanta city officials went to the missionary compound. The officials, Grant said, "asked us to lay low. They asked for our names and other personal information. They asked us not to go to the building where we had the American meetings. After that, we had to hold meetings in the missionaries' homes.
   "We had people praying everywhere," Grant said. "We sent several prayer requests by e-mail to Marvin Slagle, the pastor at the Church of God of Prophecy."
   After several days of not being able to fly out of Romania, Grant and her sister, Willie Mae Goodwin, returned to the United States. At the airport in Constanta, "there were officials with badges, and some of them had guns. There were government officials with machine guns. They all had machine guns."
   At least 1,000 people were waiting to board the plane to New York, Grant said. At first, they didn't even realize they were supposed to have their names added to a list of those waiting to board the plane. She says the only two names she heard being called to board the plane were hers and her sisters. "We got on that list only through God," she said. "God brought us home. It was a miracle."
   Upon their arrival in New York, they noticed a difference in the number of people in the airports and on the planes. "When we flew out of New York, it was hustle-bustle and full of people," Grant said. "When we arrived back at JFK, it was almost empty. The shuttle flight to La Guardia Airport was the same way. There were only seven people on the flight to Charlotte."
   While in Romania, Grant worked with Joseph and Virginia Alvarado and the couple's daughter, Amanda, 18. The Alvarados share their faith in Christ with local residents, as well as operate a feeding program. Amanda teaches the children of the American missionaries in the area. The Alvarados are from Brookside Baptist Church, Bristol, Tenn.
   Each morning, Grant helped the missionaries give 300 loaves of bread to the people in the courtyard. Once a week, the people received grits or oatmeal.
   "I got to go with them when they went to feed the children one day," Grant said. "I enjoyed what I was doing. I felt good about it, but it breaks your heart."
   One day, Grant attended a baptismal service on the Danu River. "Thirty-five Turkish Moslems who had accepted Christ were baptized that day," she said.
   Grant says the trip has dramatically altered her view of missionary life. "I know it's not laid back and easy," she said. "It's very hard work, especially for the men. I see how much comfort they have to give up here in America. They don't have all of these things over there.
   "The trip changed my view. Since I came back, there's nothing I'm not thankful for any more.
   "If it was left up to me, I would go back, but my husband, Gary, says I'll not go back."