From the archives:
Angel Accounts From a woman in despair to the Jungles Of New Guinea
By Michael H. Brown
Do you call on your guardian angel? If you don't, you may be pleasantly surprised -- perhaps amazed -- once you try. Our angels are anxious to help us, and there is nothing out of their reach. We celebrate them tomorrow (9/29). They are with us always, even in the dark of night.
Take it from Barry Hoare of Cairns in Queensland, Australia. "In 1963 my wife and I went to work as lay-missionaries in the Vicariate of Wewak in Papua New Guinea," he writes us. "We were posted to a mission station at 'Roma' in the Sepik River Area with an Irish priest, Father Patrick Hallinan. On many weekends my wife and I would walk to nearby mission stations to visit with the mission priest or nuns.
"On one particular weekend we walked to a mission at Ulupu some four and a half hours walk into the hills to visit with a priest named Father Knorr. We had lunch with father, listened to some of his stories, and spent the afternoon with him.
"As the afternoon wore on we were invited to stay the night but decided to walk home. We had a torch to help show the way as night progressed. Not long after leaving the mission station and walking downhill for some time we crossed a small river on our journey. Soon after crossing this river a very heavy thunderstorm came over, the sky darkened and it began to pour heavy rain upon us. We stood in the pouring rain for a period of time, it was totally dark and I took the torch out of my haversack.
"With the pouring rain the torch gave a couple of flickers and the light went out, leaving us in the complete darkness and pouring rain. Wondering what was the best thing to do, returning was not an option because [we figured] the small river would become a raging torrent. While pondering that I suddenly noticed something burning on the top of a hill about 150 meters in front of us -- a very bright light in the darkness. We began walking toward it and while doing so the rain stopped. The light remained and we soon came across a native man holding a lighted 'boom-boom' -- a palm branch from the coconut tree, which gives very good light and burns for maybe three or four minutes.
"He spoke to us in pigin English "yu pela go wer?" ("where are you two going?"). We answered that we were heading to the mission station of Roma. He then told us, in pigin, that he would take us on a short cut and we set off following him and the lighted palm branch into the jungle -- up and down some hills and across some small creeks.
"Within what seemed a very short time we came out at the village of Saigisi about half an hour from home.
"The storm clouds had disappeared and it was now a moon lit sky. The whole journey that had previously taken four and a half hours was now completed in about an hour.
"It was really not until many years later that as I began to reflect on the ministry of angels that this whole episode came to mind. During our journey with the guide I cannot recall his ever changing the lighted boom-boom. I can still see him standing on that hill with the light in his hand beckoning us towards him. We felt no sense of fear being led off the road and into the bush of the jungle. There was wonderment at having completed so quickly the journey with him. What a wonderful God who sends His messengers to look after us!"
This is when they come. When there is despair. When there is urgent need. They are so subtle their presence is often realized only in retrospect. A four-minute torch lasting an hour and burning in the rain!
On the other side of the world -- in Flint, Michigan -- there is a woman named Belinda who courageously recalls a time of great despair -- and great intervention.
This time the scene was in a church and occurred two years ago.
"My husband of ten years had just walked out of my life, and I had no idea where he was," Belinda says. " I began to pray in earnest for his safe return, but I was very hurt and scared, I had no idea what the future held for my children and me. I often felt suicidal, and only did not take my life because I was afraid of going to hell if I died.
"I was in Mass one Sunday, again praying for help, and asking God to ease the pain of his disappearance, and for a sign, any kind of a sign that everything would be okay.
"After Communion, an older well dressed man came to my pew, put his arm around me, and kissed my cheek, and simply said 'everything will be okay.' I was a bit stunned, and continued with my after-Communion prayer. I then looked back to see this man, and although there were only fifty or so people in the church, I did not see him among them. I looked for him for several Sundays after that, and never saw the well dressed stranger again. I have felt that he may have been an angel sent to let me know that God was with me through it all. At times things were still difficult, but like he said, everything was okay. I felt more at peace, and had the will to continue on."
Then there are unusual signs that the angels -- God's messengers -- seem to bestow on us. At least, that's what Chuck Cvitkovic of Baden, Pennsylvania, tells us. He relates what happened during a second trip to the famous site of Medjugorje.
"One day at the church, I was standing outside wondering to myself, do I really belong here?" he says. "Is this all true? Does the Blessed Mother really appear here? All this I was thinking as I said a prayer outside of the church waiting for my brothers, Tom and Jimmy.
"I looked up to the sky and said to myself, 'Dear God, if I am to be here, give me a sign.' Usually I don't ask for signs, but in my mind I needed to know if I was supposed to believe and be in the village."
"What I asked for was little strange: to let me hear someone say the word elephant. Being in a village in Croatia, high in the mountains, it was the last thing I would expect to hear anyone say.
"About five minutes later a nice-looking girl came up to me and said, 'Are you Tom's brother?' I said yes. She said she knew my brother from college and that she was from a small town called Cheswick, Pennsylvania. The next sentence was: 'You know, the home of the purple elephant'!
"There was a swimming pool company there in Cheswick and their gimmick was, 'the home of the purple elephant.'
"I was stunned, shocked, and then believed. I turned to look to see if Tom was near, looked back and the girl was gone. I never saw her after that. I now believe it may have been an angel. I have only told one person this story, a nun from a local convent. She believed me, and now 15 years later I'm telling you. What an experience!"
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