Family of Texas Man on Malaysian Flight Comforted by Faith

The brothers of a North Texas man who was aboard the Malaysia Airlines flight that went missing over the South China Sea said Sunday their family is leaning on faith and holding out hope for good news about the man they last saw about a week ago.

"God is getting us through this," said Philip Wood's brother, Tom. "People need God. We all need God."

Wood, an IBM executive who had been working in Beijing over the past two years, had recently returned home from Asia before his next assignment in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Wood came back to Texas to visit his family before relocating to the Malaysian capital, his brother, James Wood said.

The Saturday flight was supposed to be his final one to China's capital. James Wood told The Associated Press during an interview at the family's home in the Dallas suburb of Keller, that Philip Wood was supposed to make the final arrangements there for his relocation to Malaysia.

"This was going to be his last trip to Beijing. It just happened to be this one," James Wood said.

The IBM employee was returning to his fiancé in Beijing on Malaysia Airlines flight 370 for the couple’s planned move to Kuala Lumpur.

"There is a shock, a very surreal moment in your life," Wood added.

"Last Sunday, we were all having breakfast together. And now, you can't," he said during a phone interview earlier in the day, as the family got ready to attend church. Their faith, he said, is what's helping the family through this trying time.

"My brother, our family, we are Christians. Christ above else is what's keeping us together," he said.

Philip Wood, 50, was one of three Americans who were aboard the Boeing 777 when it lost contact with air traffic control as it was cruising on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew members. It isn't known with whom the other two Americans, Nicole Meng, 4, and Yan Zhang, 2, were traveling.

James Wood described his brother, a technical storage executive at IBM Malaysia, as an "outgoing, gregarious, friendly, loving man" who was excited about moving to Malaysia.

"He loved to travel while he was over there. His job gave him the opportunity to do that," James Wood said.

James Wood said that his brother is divorced and that one of his sons attends Texas A&M University and that another is an alumnus of that university.  He also pointed out that, along with his brother, members of hundreds of other families were aboard Flight MH370.

"I just wanted to say to all the other families that are around the world: We're hurting. We know you're hurting just as much, and we're praying for you," he said.

The family has been contacted by the U.S. Department of State and the embassy in Malaysia, Wood added.

Tom Wood said the events have left "a real hole in our family," but he said they aren't giving up hope.

"It's hard to have closure, or to go any further with your thoughts or anything when you don't know anything," he said."We're hoping beyond anything that he maybe survived, that people survived."

So far, no explanation as to what happened to the plane is available. There was no distress signal before the plane vanished from the radar.

The family is watching CNN, BBC and other news stations, waiting for small pieces of information as they trickle down, he said.

"At first we were thinking they would find part of that plane, but now, it's even worse," said Tom Wood.

But, "with a situation like this, when a plane just disappears ... it leaves you with a lot of questions," he said.

Malaysia Airlines is offering free travel and lodging to relatives of the passengers on the jetliner missing since Friday.

Wood's relatives received the Malaysia travel offer Monday.

“We’re going to consider it. We’re going to think about it. Then we’ll make a decision as a family what we’re going to do,” said Wood’s brother James Wood.

James Wood said news of the Malaysia Airlines travel offer arrived in an e-mail to his parents from the US State Department.

Another Texan Feels "Blessed" He Canceled Trip on Flight 370

Greg Candalaria, who also works for IBM, was originally scheduled to be on the Malaysian Airlines flight 370 that disappeared.

"Some may call this luck”, said Greg Candalaria of Houston, “some may call this karma, but I consider it the absolute providence of God, by the grace of God I was not on that plane." 

Candalaria was supposed to be on the same flight to Beijing, but decided weeks ago to cancel his trip.

Wood and Candalaria both work for IBM, but did not know each other.   

"I made a typical 57-year-old guy's decision, I'm just gettin' too old for this. I'm just really tired" said Candalaria.

He said he feels sad for the Wood family and others, who are now dealing with the tragedy.

The Wood family is weighing whether to travel to Kuala Lumpur at the invitation of Malaysia Airlines to await word there.

Austin-Based Firm's Workers on Plane Headed to Meeting

An Austin-based technology company said its 20 employees on board the missing Malaysia Airlines flight were en route to a business meeting in China.

Freescale Semiconductor spokeswoman Jacey Zuniga said Sunday the employees -- 12 from Malaysia and eight from China --work at facilities in their respective countries that manufacture semiconductor chips.

The employees were aboard Flight MH370, which went missing early Saturday over the South China Sea.

Zuniga said the company is focusing on its employees and their families and watching for any new developments.

Freescale Semiconductor has been developing microprocessors, sensors and other technology for the past 50 years.

The company has more than 18,000 employees and operates manufacturing facilities, design centers and sales offices throughout the world.

NBC 5's Ken Kalthoff and Kevin Cokely contributed to this report.

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