Throughout my life I have encountered a great many people but I’ve rarely stopped to consider the possible effects of those encounters. Today I am reminiscing about one of them.
On April 1, 1996 I received a letter that would have been easy to disregard as an April Fool’s joke. It began, “I was a student in your grade one class at Glenayre Elementary School in 1959-1960. Although it is unlikely that you remember me, I do remember you… I am writing this letter to you so that you won’t be bewildered when you receive an invitation in the next week or so from NASA inviting you to a Shuttle launch. I am now an astronaut with the Canadian Space Agency….” The letter was signed by Bob Thirsk and it was no joke.
Thus began one of the most humbling experiences of my life. I met with Bob and was interviewed by magazine and newspaper reporters. A headline in the Vancouver Sun on December 7, 1996 proclaimed, “Teacher helped propel astronaut’s dream: Robert Thirsk returns to his Grade One classroom in Port Moody for a reunion with his first math teacher.” Who, me? It was, and still is, mind-boggling.
Today he blasted off again, this time from Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz rocket bound for the International Space Station. Expedition 20/21 is another history-making mission taking Robert Thirsk on the first Canadian long-duration flight where he will live and work on board the ISS for six months. “It will also be the first time all five international space agencies — NASA, Russia’s Roskosmos, Japan’s JAXA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency — are represented at the station simultaneously.”
My link with this history-making event is miniscule, but it is a reminder that we can never be sure what purpose God has for us. Our task is simply to turn up each day and live our lives to the best of our ability, always depending on God’s guidance and giving him all praise and glory.