By Odette Del Rio
This true and personal story happened when I was 7 years of age and can relive it in an instant. I am a witness to an angelic encounter that I am about to share with you, but first I have a question or two for you. Have you ever been aware of an angel or even seen an angel? Do you know what angels are?
To answer this, I must go to the source where it is written of them: the Bible.
Many have heard of “angels unawares” as found in the New Testament in Hebrews 13:12.
We learn from this passage that at some point human beings might entertain angels without being aware of it. God’s angels are ministering spirit beings for specific works when they are commanded to.
The angels in reference here in this story, are not the fallen angels we know as evil demons (Psalm 78:49d) who were drafted by Lucifer, known as Satan.
“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Revelation 12:9)
This story is not about “Cherubims” or “Seraphims” who according to God’s word are heavenly beings with wings, and sung about in the popular movie “Sister Act.” Contrary to many who believe the story in “It’s a Wonderful Life” when human beings die, they do not convert to angels. That is a made up fable. Angels are actually able to transport themselves from heaven to earth without wings and can appear as mortal men.
An amazing fact is that God created angels prior to earth and Adam and Eve:
“Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: “…Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? …while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” (Job 38: 1- 7)
Angels celebrated along with the stars when God spoke forth a place where His creation would live. So back on earth, a few thousand years later, an angel from the heavens of God came to the rescue of a child.
“For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” (Psalms 91:11)
We may not always know of the work the Lord sends His angels to do on our behalf as human beings, unless it is in His will that they appear before us.
This story is of one moment in time that changed my perspective of God’s miraculous power. I learned He hears even the faintest cry for help, no matter the noises dispelled on earth, and that help may well arrive in the form of a Godly assistant known as an angel.
My sister Lisa and myself walked to our elementary school each morning and then again back home each afternoon. The only pavement we actually walked upon, was the roundabout where the school buses parked, for there were no sidewalks on the road after we left the school grounds.
At this time of our lives, we lived with my mother’s oldest sister, Lydia Esther in St. Croix.
We had previously lived in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn, New York. During that time we frequently walked on paved sidewalks with our parents en route to the candy store. Sometimes we walked with our grandmother, especially when she took us to spend a weekend with her.
During times spent with our grandmother Emma, she taught us Bible verses to memorize and she firmly expressed to us that “God is great and powerful and He won’t ever leave you.”
Suddenly, without an explanation, three of us were sent away on an Eastern Airlines jet plane, and were relocated to the US Virgin Islands to live with aunt Lydia and her husband Felipe. They were a childless working couple but now they had three little girls in their care. My sister Lisa, 4, Yvonne, 1½ and me, 5½.
They met us at the airport and scurried us off to their green bungalow in their taxi station wagon, to the town of Fredericksted.
It would be a very long two years without seeing our “mami” again. “Titi Lydia” worked nights, so we stayed home with “Tío Felipe” who was a taxi driver by day. For the first year we lived with them, we were not placed in school. We simply played outside with our baby sister during the day hours, running after a goat, feeding the chickens or the pigs.
Later I learned to search for eggs wherever the chickens had laid them around the yard, and I would fry them whenever I got hungry.
We did not own a toothbrush or even a comb for our messy hair. When it came to bath time, there really was not any. We were allowed to fill half a pail of water about twice a week, to wet our bodies and then to rinse. We did not have soap, but were told to use a small dab of Fab laundry detergent. This task was quite uncomfortable and somewhat painful, and we soon learned to do without the detergent.
Water was a precious commodity in those days and it hardly rained on the island. The house was equipped with a water cistern. It was filled periodically with a big hose from a delivery truck into the house, through the living room, then the dining room to the far right where the floor cistern cover was lifted to receive a certain amount of gallons, perhaps 50 to 80 gallons. I recall how very difficult it was to swallow after I once filled up a cup from the sink faucet. It was almost like drinking sea water.
The alternative were the steel drums placed outside at each of the corners of the rear of the house. Whenever the rain clouds caused H2O to drip down, it would pour on the zinc rooftop, then drip from the zinc roof into the drums, that were covered with a white cloth to keep the bugs out. This would then be the delicious water we would drink and my aunt would use for cooking.
There were times we lifted the white cloth covering, just to watch the graceful little worms swimming inside the drum. We would also place our hands inside and scoop up water to drink. It was quite refreshing to do this in the hot Caribbean sun.
We also learned to milk the goat whenever we had need of another drink. The goat was also a source of entertainment in that she would come into the house and leave little dark round droppings all over the living room. We were instructed to pick them up whenever this happened and to throw them outside.
They had a pig pen at the back of their property. Some neighbors would stop by to deposit their leftovers inside a white dirty pail. That was a costless way to accumulate feed for the pigs.
In no time we became accustomed to the odor of rotten food. I would help with the pig feeding by dragging the filled-to-the-brim pail as close as possible to the pen. I would then place it atop the short fence and dump it to the ground. The pigs would delightfully snort it up and my clothes would get quite stinky, as well as my hands.
After the visit of a married couple who brought along their 9 year old daughter, who questioned us and found out we could not read, our aunt enrolled us at the local Claude O. Markoe Elementary School. Lisa, now 5 was placed in Kindergarten, and though I had never been to “kinder” I was placed in 1st grade at the age of 7. Yvonne was now 2, and she stayed home; though sometimes a lady would watch her for a few hours while our aunt slept after her night shift at the hospital.
One particular day after school, Lisa decided to take a shorter route by cutting through between the school buses, instead of the safe curved sidewalk known as the roundabout. She ran, skipping away from my hand grasp. Upon doing so, she tripped and fell. Her head struck the pavement and she passed out cold.
I noticed her head was in line with the humongous rear right tire of the yellow school bus that was slowly backing up. It seemed it was about to crush my sister Lisa!
Buses did not have the safety feature of the reverse beeping sound when in reverse back in 1962.
I looked around for adult help, but no one was close enough to hear my cry for help. The roar of the engine silenced my yell to no avail. I knew I had no ability to pick up Lisa. I used all of my voice strength that I could spew out, but I could not even hear myself.
At that very moment I recalled the God my grandmother had shared with me and I prayed to Him with all that I was and pleaded: “Help!”
Suddenly, from the rear right side of the bus, a tall dark man appeared, wearing a white shirt and light brown pants; he looked at Lisa then at me. He quickly walked from the right rear of this enormous bus to the left side where the driver looking at his left rear view mirror, noticed his raised his arm, signaling an unequivocally message of “Stop!”
The bus driver hit the brakes bringing the bus to a halt. The driver scurried off the school bus, running around to the rear to see what the commotion was that had made him stop. He looked down and saw Lisa unconscious by the rear right tire. I thought he might think he actually hit her prior to stopping because of how close she was to the rubber.
The driver looked around for the man who had raised his arm, but he had vanished. I could not explain anything that was asked by the driver. The bystanders who finally ran to us had no answers as to where the tall man had disappeared to.
After the paramedics arrived and had put Lisa unto a stretcher and then into the ambulance, I ran home to announce the news to my sleeping aunt, for they had no telephone.
There is no doubt in my heart and the bus driver who saw the tallest man ever, that this was a ministering angel sent by God to save Lisa’s life. I knew God answered my cry for help at the tender age of seven.
Though we were living out the consequences of trouble between our parents, God took notice and cared for us in the midst of unforeseen circumstances. As an adult I realize that my grandmother’s prayers for protection, reached the throne of God throughout our lives.
Children are never too young to learn to trust God and know His word is true. I know that even when we are unaware of Godly assistants also known as ministering angels, they guard His children.
Now I do likewise unto my grandchildren and share all that I know about our God with them.
Think back into your life. Perhaps you were unaware of an angel’s assistance. You may have seen an angel and not have known it. Remember, when you call upon the Lord with all your heart, He might just send you an angel to minister to your need.
“When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” (Psalm 27:10)
“The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.” (Psalm 34:7)
These two verses have been true in my life, for here I am 50 plus years later, re-telling His miraculous blessings.