This would be our first day to explore the city of Jerusalem on our own, without a friend or tour guide leading the way. Baruch and I had completed a week long “Disney Land” tour, and felt confident that we could navigate the ancient streets on foot alone. With a map in hand, (yes, before Google maps!) we set out with confidence on our solo excursion. We had enjoyed a full day of exploration when we realized that the sky had turned from clear blue too an ominous charcoal grey, as dark clouds rolled in above our heads. “It’s time to head back!” we both said simultaneously.
As we proceeded along the Hebron road to our apartment, the stormy clouds soon covered the entire sky, and the first rain pellets began to hit our heads. First one, then two, then faster and faster…..now beating down in unison like little pellets. As we glanced around, it was apparent that everyone had taken cover, leaving the streets empty.
“Should we grab a cab?” I hollered to my husband, the rain being so loud I had to raise my voice.
“No, we can make it” he boomed back. “It’s only a 20 minute walk and we will move fast.”
As the rain and the wind increased, so did our footsteps! The streets had turned into roaring rivers which quickly soaked our shoes. Suddenly, amidst the wind and sheets of rain, the biggest eruption of thunder I had ever experienced sounded directly above us! I think my heart truly stopped for that moment! Dusk had turned into total darkness which was only interrupted by the sudden flash of lighting which bolted from the heavens, followed by more intense thunder.
We both looked at each other in shock, and couldn’t help but laugh, observing how silly we looked and the predicament we had managed to get ourselves in. We forged ahead nonetheless, as concern slowly crept back in. We looked at our watches and realized that we had been walking much longer than it should have taken us to arrive home. How in the world did we manage to take a wrong turn? (I refrained from reminding my husband of my suggestion to get a taxi).
We had not purchased cell phones, so couldn’t call for help (something we learned to do on our future trips) and the streets looked like a ghost town. As we trudged along we noticed some lights at a gas station in the distance. Great we thought, at least we can call a taxi from there! As we approached the gas station two men appeared from the shadows, glaring at us with eyes of steel. We kept our distance, as I loudly asked if we could use their phone for a taxi. It just took a few minutes for us to realize that this was not a friendly encounter, so we nonchalantly spun around and headed back down the street from which we came. If all else failed, we assumed that we could backtrack and probably find our way to Jerusalem again – given another hour and a half — that’s if our inhospitable gas station attendants decided not to kidnap us for ransom!
Our unfriendly encounter left us on high alert, and as soon as we were safely out of sight, we stopped for a moment to say a prayer. It was simple and went something like this:
“Please Gd, lead us back to our apartment and send us your Angels for protection.”
It was still pouring buckets as we continued our journey when my husband paused, detecting what appeared to be a pathway.
“I think we should take this path,” he announced.
“Here?” I questioned with skepticism.
I followed his lead as we made our way through overgrown brush until we entered a slight clearing. Peering out into the darkness from behind the shrubs we realized that we had come to a residential neighborhood.
“Now what?” I asked my trail blazing husband.
“Let’s just wait a minute,” he said.
As we huddled under some trees we saw the headlights of a car approaching. It came to a stop at the curb just below where we were standing. We could make out a woman inside gathering some belongings as the dome light came on.
“I will ask her for directions?” half stating and half asking my husband. (I was feeling a bit more timid since my gas station experience)
“Okay” he agreed, “She would be more likely to respond to another woman.”
I attempted to be inconspicuous as I meandered out from behind the shrubbery, dripping and squishing my way to her car.
The woman immediately turned towards me, and was noticeably shocked to see such a sight!
“Hello, I am sorry if I startled you, — we are visitors to Israel, and must have taken a wrong turn when this storm suddenly came upon us. Can you give us some directions? This is my husband”, pointing towards him as he poked his head out from behind the trees. He managed a friendly nod and smile. The woman seemed to relax as she inspected us and asked us where we were living. She proceeded to give us directions in her broken English as we listened intently, however, it was obvious from our faces that the Hebrew names to the streets only confused us more. My husband had twigs sticking out from his backpack and rain dripping off his long white beard, — my mascara was now on my chin, and we were soggy, dripping, Americans, lost and desperate.
The woman suddenly stopped in mid sentence and began to laugh, taking pity on us, she said,
“Get in my car. I am taking you home.”
“We will get your car all wet” we warned in despair.
But our rescuer insisted, and repeated her command!
We were both so grateful and tired that we didn’t argue any further. Once inside her car we explained our predicament further, which seemed to ease her curiosity.
“Where does the road lead just above your neighborhood behind the tree line?” I asked.
“That road leads to a very dangerous area. You don’t want to be walking there, especially on a night like this!”
As her car turned into our familiar neighborhood a sense of relief came over me.
I looked at this stranger driving us home, knowing that she had rescued us from what could have been a much worse situation and I thanked her profusely, telling her that she was our angel we prayed for just moments before.
She looked at me in amusement and said, “Your prayers must be highly favored! My last name is Angel! My family owns the Angel Bakeries here!”
As we sloshed into our apartment that stormy winter night, it was apparent to us that prayers are answered and miracles do occur.
Thank you again, Mrs Angel.