Angels Unawares

Good morning all,

This morning I’m going to tell you about a couple of fairly mundane but routine ‘incidents’ that our friends Sherwood and Margaret Moffett and we experienced in our early years.  First Sherwood’s story:

“The summer of 1977 was our first year in Japan, but  Margaret and I and 3-year old Matthew decided to escape the  heat and humidity of Tokyo by driving into the mountains   near Nagano to stay a few days with missionary friends.          Going up to Nojiri-ko in the daylight was easy enough; we followed Max Love, a seasoned missionary, the whole way.  Coming back, however, was a different story as we decided  to drive at night while Matthew slept in the back seat.

This was before GPS, of course, so all we had was a map in   Japanese and the assurance that Highway 18 (currently   National Highways 19 and 20) went all the way from Nagano   to a point in Tokyo that we could recognize.  The markers for  the highway were sometimes displayed prominently and  sometimes in locations that would challenge the foreign   driver in a moving vehicle — tiny little signs on telephone   poles, for example.
So by about midnight, after perhaps a half hour of not   spotting a road sign, and under an ominous and increasing   conviction that we were lost, I spotted a police box and   pulled in to ask (in my first-year Japanese) for directions /          assistance. Margaret said she would wait in the car while   Matthew slept.  After about 30 minutes, when I didn’t come   back, she got really concerned and decided to check on me   (Had I been detained for some gross negligence or          impropriety?).
What we had not realized was that foreigners were an   unusual sight in these rural precincts — actually something   that called on (nay, demanded) Japanese hospitality, so the   three policemen on duty had insisted that I sit down and          make myself comfortable while they brewed a fresh kettle of   green tea and put their heads together to figure out first, what   in the world I was doing out there in the middle of the night,   second, what was I looking for, and third, which of the many  options would best serve the poor stranger to get back to   Tokyo with the least amount of difficulty.

As far as I could tell, they actually had a spirited debate about   calling their supervisor to ask for guidance, but decided that   waking him up in the middle of the night might be a bad idea.  They did enter copious notes in the logbook, I think as a way   of covering themselves in case the supervisor was miffed   about missing what must have been a once-in-a-blue-moon   experience.
Then, when Margaret showed up (”an oku-san!”) and the   policemen had expressed delight over the sleeping Matthew   (”kawaii!”-adorable), we were given a detailed, hand-drawn   map of how to proceed with, naturally, all landmarks in kanji   (we hadn’t gotten THAT far in our studies).
At long last, powered by our ocha consumption, with all of   them lined up and bowing profusely, we successfully set out   and arrived back home about dawn the next day.”

And now Marsha’s addition to the story:
And of course three years later, we decided to go together with the Moffetts, whom we now considered the “seasoned veterans”, up to this much talked about missionary vacation spot. We were new to the country and excited about seeing this ‘lake’ that everyone spoke of in reverent terms.   We left our annual mission meeting at night, again so that our now four children could sleep, since it would at best be a 7 or 8 hour drive through some deep and mysteriously remote mountains.

Margaret and I were following the guys, Tony and Sherwood in the lead car, when (in torrential typhoon rain) they sped through a small sleepy town and took a turn at a significant junction. We, following, had NO IDEA which way they had turned. Remember, this was decades before mobile phones, but in this storm, they probably wouldn’t have worked anyway.

We had no choice but to turn back into town and find the police box.  Our kids were sound asleep, so we BOTH went in, although Margaret had more language experience, girls just like to do things together!  The policeman, again amazed to see foreigners in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere, sat down. I noted that we were offered neither chairs of freshly brewed tea (how times had changed), leisurely took out a blank piece of paper and begin to draw a map.  He carefully drew a bridge and began to laboriously write out the word in his best English,  “R…I…V…E….R”.  I think he was about to add some shading to the bridge drawing when we lost our feigned patience, knowing the guys were speeding ahead into the night, both of us yelled, in Japanese (her), and English (Me),

“WHICH WAY??” “Dochi gawa?”

The policeman jumped up from his reverie, saluted, dashed outside and pointed the way. We were now able to return to the chase. We DID find them soon, as thankfully, they had noticed we were missing and had turned back to find us.  What a night!

Years later, we were happy to watch as Japan straightened out some of the crooked roads, naturally adding crippling tolls, but well worth the money to get you where you want to go!
As we laugh about this misadventure now, we both have to agree that this well known verse in Hebrews might be an appropriate verse to add to the saga: Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

Now the only remaining question in these stories is, who were the angels and who were the hosts?

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