Crash survivor: God 'still has work for us to do'

Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo - A missionary family from Minnesota is glad to be alive and together after surviving a plane crash in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the father said Wednesday.

Barry and Marybeth Mosier were on their way to visit their son Keith, 24, in Kinsangani, Congo, with two younger children when their plane crashed on takeoff Tuesday in Goma. At least 36 people died as the plane plowed through a market and burned. Most of the people who died were on the ground, according to the U.N. mission in DR Congo.

April Mosier, 14, managed to escape quickly, her father said from Goma.

"April raced ahead, and she got to the front of the plane as one of the first people, I think," said Barry Mosier, 53.

The girl encountered a man who was tearing through an opening in the fuselage, Mosier said.

"He was pulling parts of the plane in or pushing them out, trying to make a hole. And she told him -- she speaks Swahili well -- she said, 'We've got to get a hole in this plane, or we're all going to die.' "

When the hole was big enough, April tried to dive through it. She made it with a push from the man, and other passengers followed, he said.

Meanwhile, Mosier said, he and his wife were carrying their son Andrew, 3, in the shoving "mass of humanity" trying to escape the burning plane. They got out through the opening in the fuselage. The child's leg was broken in the crush of people, but his parents didn't realize it until later.

April became separated from her parents and was whisked away to a hospital, convinced that her family was dead, her father said.

"Outside the plane, she was wandering around. ... It was total chaos," he said. "People were screaming and yelling because the plane had landed on this market. All of a sudden, out of the blue, all of these people who were just standing there are now dead.

"So there's parts of bodies and people burning and people screaming and yelling, and she was out there by herself."

About 25 minutes later, the Mosiers were reunited at the hospital.

"When we saw each other at the hospital, I can tell you, it was a grand reunion," he said.

The Mosiers, who have been Seventh-day Adventist missionaries in Iringa, Tanzania, for eight years, went to the church office in Goma to let Keith and other loved ones -- including two other grown children in the U.S. -- know that they were all right.

While there, someone noticed that Andrew's leg was swollen, and the Mosiers returned to the hospital. They learned that Andrew's femur was broken near the hip, and he is now in a cast that reaches from his toes to his rib cage, Barry Mosier said.

"He doesn't like it very well, as most 3-year-olds wouldn't," Mosier said.

The family will recuperate in Goma for a few days before deciding whether to resume the trip to Kisangani, where Keith Mosier has been a volunteer missionary for two months, Barry Mosier said.

"But flying here is not a popular thing to talk about just now," he said wryly.

Andrew has made up his mind, his father said.

"He says he doesn't want to ride in airplanes anymore," he said.

Marybeth Mosier, 51, suffered a black eye and bruised ribs, said her husband, who added that he was unhurt.

"We couldn't believe that our family of four could all escape a plane that was crashed and on fire, but by God's mercy, we did," he said.

Mosier said he believes the family made it for a reason.

"I think the Lord has a plan for us, otherwise we wouldn't have survived," he said. "He still has work for us to do."

And that work just might be in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"We actually came here with the idea of seeing if we could move here to Congo, so it's been kind of a rough introduction," Mosier said.

"I think we'll keep praying about that. We know that the safest place in the world to work is where the Lord wants you to work." E-mail to a friend