Thursday, November 10, 2005


I believe that there are bonafide angels roaming the earth. Not that they have wings and halos or play harps while bathed in bright, white light or anything. But, there are people who are just so good, so caring, so loving, that it's hard to imagine they acctually have faults and problems and are imperfect like the rest of us. There's probably not a lot of them, but I feel like I have been blessed to have met at least three in the past year or so. And, you would not believe they were angels just looking at them. I guess they do have to disguise themselves so we don't stare or something.

Kristi was the person in charge at the church our mission trip was based out of. The average joe wouldn't notice her in the crowd and if he did, he would think anything was special about her. But, Kristi, I believe, is an angel. She gave us the run down on the "rules" while we are staying at the church. And my first impression was that she had a bit of an iron fist. I could see that the rules were important, but her delivery was a bit harsh, I thought. She organized us into work details and led our daily devotions in the morning and discussions about the day's events at night.

Kristi is a alcoholic. She's using her faith, which I learned is strong as an ox, to recover. I felt drawn to her spirit. Honestly, I probably would have ignored her if I met her under different circumstances. But, there was something about her that made me feel we needed to talk, like there was much I needed to learn from her.

After our first dinner there, I walked around on my own and found Kristi sitting on the steps smoking a cigarette. Feeling weak, I gave in and asked to bum a smoke (sorry, honey). Well, at least I found an opening to whatever conversation I needed to have with her. Alas! She was on the phone at the time. So, I sat far enough not to eavesdrop on her conversation and smoked one waiting for her to get off. Unfortunately, she had a long conversation and my breath and teeth needed deep cleaning.

The next night same thing. I figured she'd go out for a smoke at some point and I could casually walk by, bum and converse. Didn't happen. But on the third night, while others burned their pork-bellied clothing, I was successful at burning more than just tobacco. The questions I had were about the logistics of mission. We had a good conversation and she was able to calm a few of my fears about the journey God is putting me on. I have no doubt Kristi is an angel.

John is probably in his late 50s and owns a farm in Pennsylvania. Looking at his rough, tan skin, it's obvious he's been on the farm most of his life. The kind of older man who is set in his ways and his way is right. After spending three days under his supervision, I have no doubt John is an angel, too.

He told me God spoke to him the night Katrina hit and put the fear in him. He said he did everything he could to avoid coming to Gulfport. But, God wanted him there and made sure he ended up at that church. The day after Katrina hit, he called the Red Cross to volunteer and they basically gave him the run around, telling him he needed this class and that (all of which he took) before he could go. Then, they said he needed more classes and lost his information. He grew tired of their hemming and hawing. Eventually, his wife found a number on the internet and gave it to him to call. Days later, he was in Gulfport. He says this is where God wanted him and that's why he's there.

We could tell we were getting on John's nerves while we were chainsawing with him. We were playful in our work, he was all business. Yet, somehow we grew on him and he grew on us. He led us in prayer with each family and I've never heard more elegant beautiful words spoken from such a gruff, old man. My friend, Denny, had been praying that God would allow him to see people as He does. And, God doesn't see John as a gruff, old man. To God (and to me), John is an angel.

Yes, I do believe God has an army of angels and they are scattered across this globe to do His will. They don't have halos, nor do they have wings. I'm learning to recognize them by the kindness and love in their hearts. I even hope the bell rings for my "wings" someday (Or is that too obscure of a pop culture referance). If only we all could learn to fly as high in our faith, hope and love as they do.

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