Angels on the Road

July 12, 2011

“I’m so glad you said ‚yes‘!“ Atalia cheers at least for the third time, grinning from ear to ear. She and Mark approach us after we learned shortly before reaching Netanya that the so-called ‘Angels on the Road’ were busy. What we’re referring to is this excellent network of helpers in place, offering inexpensive or at times even free accommodation, drinking water or other assistance to shvil hikers. Back up north, after our first night out in the open when we were left standing outside the locked gates of a moshav, Reut used our mobile phone to call an ‘angel’. So not long afterwards, we were told we could spend the night in what used to be a kindergarten in exchange for a voluntary small fee towards water and electricity. What a great establishment! When we were walking in the north, we had spent most nights in our tent or with friends, so we only had to make use of the network for the second time, the evening before we met Atalia. “Sure, you can stay with us.” Gil, a trail angel, reassures us at the other end of the line. “Fantastic!“ we cheer. We picture ourselves pitching our tent in their garden this night which is fine with us. Online we had read that there was a ‘shower facility’, which in our point of view didn’t necessarily equal a roof over our heads. Gil comes towards us on the beach and takes us to his home. Inside, he shows us to a room complete with a double bed and an ensuite bathroom. We can’t believe our luck! We are in for another surprise when Gil‘s wife, Anat, knocks on our door a little later saying: “Feel free to come and join us when you’re ready. Gil’s just making supper for us all.“ We’re speechless. Later Gil tells us this is the second year they participate in the ‘angel network‘. “Last year, we had around 150 hikers stay at our place.“ On the following morning, after Anat has encouraged us to use the network more often, Hanspeter phones two ‘angels‘. Sadly, both of them turn us down for lack of time. Shortly after that, it is already later in the day, we meet Atalia and Mark. They’ve just returned from a trip to Switzerland. “Do you know where you’ll stay tonight?“ Atalia asks. We shake our heads. “Well, then why don’t you come over to our kibbutz?“ she suggests. We spread our mats on the floor that night happy to have found a wonderful roof over our heads at such short notice saying to one another: “If the official angels are busy, God sends us different ones. Fantastic!“

“Unbelievable!“ Hanspeter mutters at least for the third time. We’re north of Tel Aviv and there’s no way around river Yarkon. The tricky bit is that the shvil actually leads across the river, but there’s neither a bridge nor rocks sticking out helping us to cross the waters. Again we marvel at God’s perfect timing: even though we’re on a rather remote stretch of the trail, we suddenly spot a parked vehicle by the river. There is no doubt in Annemarie’s mind that God is giving us this opportunity and immediately makes for the people standing by the car: “Taxi?“ she asks without further ado. While the two young men seem to be still discussing this, the driver motions towards us to jump on the step on each side. Having reached the other side, we’d hardly set our feet on the ground when the car roars off and the men have vanished out of sight. “Thank you, Lord, for even sending us a taxi at the right time!” Through God’s perfect guidance, we even managed to make it to the dedication of little Yonatan Grimberg, the newborn son of good friends of ours. Taking part in the service, we realized what a privilege it is to be able to worship with others. We’re also very grateful for the wonderful hospitality of Alon, Rajaa‘ and Alon’s sister Karin who also make sure we get sufficient fresh fruit and vegetables, which we highly appreciate. These three are angels of a different kind. They are dedicated to serving in various congregations and ministries fostering the reconciliation between Jews and Arabs. In the evening, Karin, who is originally from Germany, shares with us how a traumatic experience can be turned from something negative to something positive (see video).

The day after, we have another encounter that will leave an impression on us. Again we’re on a part of the trail in the middle of nowhere, when suddenly a van pulls over. The driver rolls down his window and asks the second most important question: “Got enough water?” Even though we have filled our water bags that morning, and refilled them at the only possible place, an industrial building, since it’s a scorching hot day we reply: “We’re not sure it’ll last.“ Before we know it, Hagay has got out of his car, opens the back door and lets us refill our water bags. “Thanks Lord, for sending another angel our way,“ we pray with relief afterwards. Again and again we thank Jesus for the great number of hidden ‘angels’ who have been supporting us. Some of them we don’t even know personally. Experiencing the love of God and of people is a privilege and a great source of encouragement.

After His resurrection, Jesus asked Peter three times: „Do you love me?” What a question! Until last summer, Annemarie underwent an English-speaking Bible College programme of several years ( together with more than a hundred women, a time about which she says taught her a great deal. One of the things she found striking when comparing Bible translations was that the German version says that Jesus wanted to do the will of the Father while the English translation reads: “I WANT TO PLEASE HIM.“ Jesus loves His Father so much that He only seeks to do what is pleasing to Him. Seen from this perspective, everything we do for Him becomes a privilege instead of a ‘must’. This way life is a joy.

There are no words to describe our joy about God’s faithfulness throughout our hike. We will still try to put it into words after our arrival. Tomorrow, we’ll pack our backpacks for the very last time to tackle the final stretch of our hike: the climb of Mount Olives. It was on that hill that Jesus ascended to Heaven, and it is the place to which He will return. What a gift it is that He is alive today and that we may already receive His blessings in our lives! We’re so glad He said ‘yes‘ to the way our Father in Heaven had determined for Him.

Two exceedingly grateful hikers about to cross the finish line.

Hanspeter & Annemarie

July 10, 2011     As you may have guessed from our photos, we have arrived on the Mount of Olives and crossed the finish line! We’re now roaming Jerusalem and will be back with more on our experiences soon.

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