They were a peculiar pair. Joe — a stout, mountain of a man, in need of a shave and haircut and his wife Annie, — a short, plumpish woman, resembling a frosted cupcake. They were always side by side, whether sitting or standing and had a startling knack of being present one minute and gone the next! We met at the county fair as judges for the best fruit pie category. After an exceptionally competitive group of entries made their way to our discriminating palates, a winner was finally announced and met with exuberant cheers from the crowd. Our friendship grew with Annie and Joe as we continued to volunteer for various jobs during the three weeks of the fair each year.
It was one such year that they approached us with very serious looks on their faces, as if they had some secret that had worked them into a frenzy and were about to combust before our eyes! Annie did most of the talking as Joe nodded rhythmically, occasionally repeating Annie’s words in approval.
“You must go to Israel” they both began in unison. Annie rambled on with the speed of light, “We want to buy you tickets — you belong there — and we can help — and once you are there you will know how important it is — and please don’t say no to our gift — we would be greatly upset — you really need to go…” Finally catching their breath they stood before us silent and motionless. Before we had a chance to recover from this tidal wave, Joe’s hand appeared from his pocket waving a check before our faces. We must have been in shock and could only stumble and stutter inaudibly as Joe continued to dangle the check before our faces, finally shoving it into my husband’s hand. Annie and Joe immediately made an about-face and scurried away as if they had just robbed a bank, leaving us with our mouths dropped open in disbelief!
We have not seen them since.
After recovering, we realized the seriousness of this amazing gift from Annie and Joe and recalled how we had prayed that someday we would travel to Israel. So, a few months later we decided to board a plane, fulfilling our dreams.
That was in 2000.
Looking back, I can see how that first trip was a major ‘Grand Opening’ of things to come. If we had known then what our future held, we would not have believed it. We continued making trips to Israel every few years until finally making aliyah in 2017. It may have taken us a while to finally move permanently, but each step of the way was perfectly ordered and designed.
I don’t know where Annie and Joe are today, but we are forever indebted for giving us the life changing gift which brought us to Israel, — our homeland today.