This is a thank you note.
Allow me to elaborate.
My grand aunt (if that’s even an English word) was a single mother of five. Her husband, after over a decade of marriage, woke up one day and decided his five children did not mean that much to him anymore; he got himself a new wife, and went ahead to have four more children with his new wife. At the time this happened, her eldest child (my aunt) was about eleven years old.
This tale is vivid in my mind because I looked up to my grand aunt in all matters spiritual. You could cut her up, limb by limb and she would still not give up her faith in Jesus.
I was an eager and curios child of maybe fifteen, a very impressionable age if you ask me. A group of about five of us were seated in a living room of her village home in Western Uganda, listening intently to grand aunt tell this tale. The look in her eyes was one that said ‘I don’t expect you to believe me but this actually happened”. It was a cold night so we were all covered up in different kinds of warmers, all eyes on her, no one daring to breathe too loud lest we miss even a word. As she spoke, eyes darting from one person to other, she leaned forward into all of us, one thin hand holding her evening cup of tea, the other gesturing for effect. Every two minutes or so, she stopped to seep from the severely diluted cup of milk tea (she liked it that way- diabetes and all that), a smile playing on her lips. The story was narrated in our local language; I suspect it was to make sure we pay attention and to add dramatic effect.
Back in her time, the road network in villages was not as extensive or developed as it is now. She was a Primary School teacher and her second born son was just about to sit for his Primary Leaving examinations. By this time, her estranged husband was about to have his third child with his new bride. Her candidate son had not paid school fees. It was a Sunday and she was embarking on a journey from the town where she taught in one district to the boarding school her son studied in another district, hoping to beg for mercy so they could let her child sit the exams and allow her to pay the school fees later. The Primary Leaving Examinations were to begin early the next morning and if she didn’t arrive today, it would be too late. So after her classes that day, she got into one of those small taxis that ferry people from one district to another upcountry. The taxi only went as far as the district town Centre. From there she would have to walk a journey of about ten kilometers on a dirt road through a swamp to reach her son’s school.
With all its various stops for passengers, the taxi arrived in the district past seven pm. She was determined still, and after waiting about thirty minutes at the stage, hoping to hitch a ride with a passenger vehicle that may be headed the same way, she decided to take her chances and walk before it got too late. About 4km and an hour later, her hope was starting to fade. It was terribly cold, mist all around because of the swamp and only the sound of a thousand crickets for company on that dark road. She was cold, tired, hungry, and scared.
At this point, she stopped to take a sip from her cooling cup of tea. I used the opportunity to change posture as my leg had started to feel pins and needles.
It’s past nine pm now and she is only about half way the journey. At this point, all hope is gone and she breaks down and starts to cry and pray to God. She won’t make it to the school alive, and even if some strange men don’t rob or kill her in this swamp, they will never let her into the school at that time. Even if they let her in, her son’s teachers would be asleep already and where would she spend the night? Her son would have to go through the class again and she would have to pay fees for an extra year with money she didn’t even have. “Why was she going through this”, she asked God.
At just that moment, she spots a church about half a kilometer away. It’s the only place with electricity she has seen so far so she decides this is where she will spend the night and deal with tomorrow’s troubles tomorrow. At this point, she can barely drag herself up the church steps, and is even more exhausted from all the bitter crying she has done.
She sits up during the narration, switches her cup of tea to the other hand, adjusts the shoal covering her legs, widens her eyes, and with all certainty, without blinking, says, “That’s when I saw the angel”.
It was a man, very tall and big with large wings and with so much light coming from him that he lit up the whole church compound, all the way down to the road. At first she wasn’t sure what was happening and when she did realize what was happening, she was too dumbfounded to respond.
The details from this point are not clear but the angel informed her that not only would she make it to the school but her son would excel in the exams he was sitting for the next day. He doesn’t remember how she did it but with renewed vigor, she walked the remaining kilometers to the school and found a teacher that let her spend the night and went on to assist her sort out the P.L.E issues the next day.
My Uncle sat for his Primary Leaving Examinations the next day and went on to become the best in the country that year. He is currently a surgeon in the United States. My Grand aunt eventually became the headmistress of that school but has since retired with various businesses. All five children are actually doing exceptionally well. Even now, you won’t go to her house and leave without hearing about Jesus.
I remember how for the longest time I prayed and prayed to God that I too would see an angel but the prayers became less and less until they were no more. For a long while, I thought that maybe You didn’t answer that prayer because I would eventually see angels when I get to heaven and it was all a lesson in patience but it hit me recently that I’ve been so wrong all this time.
You did send me angels, not one but many. They may not be ten feet tall or shine like the sun. They may not have big wings or leave me dumbfounded. However they do help me up when I fall, and give me strength to go on when I am sure I can’t. They support me and make things possible. They encourage me and accept me. They renew my vigor to walk this journey. They show me that my grand aunt’s tale is true. They show me that you not only heard my prayers but you answer them.
So God, this is a thank you note. For all the angels you’ve surrounded me with, and for the others that I will see when I get to heaven.