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A surprise visit from God while on a plane

My plans were made, and it was the opportunity of a lifetime. A trip to Germany for training! I had always wanted to visit Germany since I had long heard of the suspected origins of my maiden name. So often it had been concluded that we were certainly of German descent. Oddly enough, the other side of the argument was that our name was Jewish. I have no clue which way the pendulum of truth swings on this one. All I know is that visiting Germany had been on my bucket list and my dreams were about to come true! What I didn’t know was that I was headed straight for a surprise visit from God while on a plane to Germany. And the impact that His gesture of love would do to me would last forever.

what type of training?

A good friend of mine, whom I also teach school with, and myself work with a travel company that specializes in students seeing the world. They are a great company and have aided us in taking many pupils and their parents to countries that they probably would have never seen on their own. It’s a wonderful experience and one that I do not take lightly or for granted.

As teacher leaders of these “travel groups”, the educational travel company provides training for us abroad. This gives us an up-close look and feel of what it’s like to be a “student” in the situation and also allow us to get real-life practice of how to lead trips confidently. They show us best practices, practical solutions to problems that may arise, and of course how to have fun and provide a safe environment for those entrusted to us.

One of the exciting aspects of this training is that we get to choose which country we would like to receive our training in. There is a list provided and you simply make a selection of place and date.

When I saw Germany, my mind was set!

Photo of the gate in Germany.

I was finally going to see this country that I had read so much about. And I had every intention of asking a local the truth about our last name. I needed to settle that debate!

The only drawback to this whole experience was that I had to travel alone. I couldn’t bring anyone with me. At this point, I had been overseas one time. But I had NEVER been overseas alone. I was going to meet my group of fellow teachers in Germany, but I would have 3 flights before I ever faced that group. And even when I encounter them, they were all strangers. I knew absolutely no one personally.

I wrestled with this one aspect of what was going to be an AMAZING OPPORTUNITY. It was this nagging doubt in the back of my mind.

What if I get lost?

What if someone knows I’m alone and takes advantage of me? Or what if I lose my luggage or miss my plane? What if I can’t find the group when I land in Germany? What if I’m left at the airport and I can’t speak the language?

The questions flooded through my mind more rapidly than I liked and I had no answer for any of them. I simply pondered them. In the months leading up to my trip, the worry/anxiety became more and more palpable. I’m not a fearful person by nature and so this was really taking a toll.

I called the company and asked if I could bring a friend. This friend was willing to pay their own way. Nothing would be required of the travel company, and I was met with a resounding “no”. You must travel alone. Those words made me uncomfortable, alone. Alone can be scary. It can be isolating. Alone can be dangerous.

Why do I have to be alone?

I briefly considered canceling my trip. But then a thought came to me. If I love and trust God, and I do, and I tell others that we can completely trust God, then why am I not living like that? Travel is a part of everyday life. It’s not like I was choosing something to do that is explicitly dangerous and irresponsible.

I was simply desiring to see even more of God’s creation. I wanted to experience a different part of the world and meet new people. And then a most sobering and comforting thought surfaced. When it is my time to leave this earth and meet God face to face, nothing can stop it. And nothing can usher that moment into my life earlier than when God ordained it.

So, calm down Jessie and enjoy the ride!

As departure day came closer and closer, I found myself praying and asking God for reassurance that He would go with me. “Just be right there with me God. Just don’t leave me God. Hold my hand God.” I would pray these words while driving my bus route early in the mornings. Before the sun was up and before the first child boarded, me and Jesus would just talk it out.

One of these times as I was driving, a bright light lit up the sky and flew right above the tree line. I just stared in disbelief. It was so close that I was afraid something hit the earth. Surely, there was a field on fire! It was so low you could almost touch it. But traffic just kept on driving like nothing happened.

A meteor in the sky.

I have no clue what that light was, but it gave me comfort. It was like God showed me that there is more than meets the eye. He was listening. I never doubted that He heard me. But He gave me a light. I felt better after that. I would fly out to Germany later that week.

Although I had seen “the light”, I still wanted more. I had decided in my mind that God was going to give me an angel to travel with. And I even got really specific about this angel. This is what I said to the Lord,

“God, it would be really great if you would just sit by me on the plane, but I know you won’t, so I’m asking for an angel to sit by me on the plane. Not just any angel God. I want this angel to have MY name. I want to recognize it as an angel. And I want to sit by an angel on my plane named Jessie.”

You see, I had already had an encounter with an angel a couple of years earlier and didn’t realize it. I didn’t want this moment to pass me by and remain oblivious. And I really needed reassurance on this plane. I needed to know that the angel was sitting there. Surely, I can’t die on a plane with an angel sitting beside me! (HA HA)

if you prefer, I’ll tell you about it in person here:

There! It was settled. I quoted the scripture to the Lord that “we have not because we ask not”. Well, I was asking. And I fully believed that God was going to fulfill my request. With this in mind, departure day became more anticipated and a lot less dreaded. This was the day that I was going to meet, an angel named Jessie. I couldn’t wait to board my first flight!

boarding plane 1 to dallas

Airplane aisle.

This first flight was going to be super short in comparison to the other two later in the day. I was on a small plane to make a connection at Dallas airport. At most we would be in the air about 1 hour. I sat down and smiled politely at the lady sitting right beside me. Here she is, I thought. My angel named Jessie. We began to talk about our destinations and reasons for travel and I noticed that she seemed a little nervous and uneasy.

She expressed that she had flown many times, but her body language told me a different story. So, I kept talking to try and distract her from what must be causing her some anxiety. At some point I politely asked the question that had been burning in my chest, “What is your name?” With a big smile she said, “My name is Margarita”.

Now, I know that some people believe God is serious and dry. But we’ve spent enough time together that I’ve learned God is funny.

He has a great sense of humor!

Here I was waiting on the big reveal of her angelic name, that would be the same as me (HA), and she responds with a name of a popular alcoholic beverage! (LOL) I said to myself… “okay, she’s not the angel”… because her name isn’t Jessie. I was specific with my request to the Lord.

A margarite with a lime wedge on the rim of the glass.

What did happen on that flight though, was God ordained. He removed my eyes and my worry off of myself, provided me with a laugh, and gave me the opportunity to help someone else. You see, Margarita was scared of flying. She needed someone to be an angel of comfort for her. And while I was looking for my miracle, God used me to be hers. We chatted the whole flight and her body eased into relaxation. Finally, we got off the plane and I sat in the airport for my next flight.

I was anxious for my layover in Dallas to expire so that I could board my next flight to New York City. This was the second flight of my journey, and I just knew that I was going to be seated next to my angel named Jessie.

boarding plane 2 to new york

We boarded the plane and much to my relief, I had a window seat. I squeezed past the others seated in the row and sat right beside an older lady. Now, I was really excited! God gave me an older angel with wisdom. I already felt safer seated beside her. What is this conversation going to be like? I couldn’t wait to hear that her name was Jessie, and we would knowingly smile at one another!

As boarding came to an end and we began to make ourselves comfortable, I looked at her and began talking. She just stared at me. And then she opened her mouth to speak… German! She spoke no English. At first, I was disappointed. “How am I going to communicate with her if she doesn’t understand English? I’m bilingual, but God… I speak English and Spanish! Now, I’m seated next to a lady that doesn’t even speak English and I’m headed to New York”.

My stomach started hurting from worry.

But I wasn’t going to give up that easily. I grabbed my cellphone and went to google translate. I would type in my sentence/question into German and hand her my phone so that she could read it. We communicated this way for a while. I was able to tell her about my travel plans and that I was going to tour the Berlin wall and some of Hitler’s things. Sensing her discomfort at the name of Hitler, I decided to steer the conversation away from that.

I asked her if she thought my maiden name was German. I wrote it down for her and she said, “Yes!” She also told me what a piece of it meant. “Well, that debate is settled! Now, what is your name?” She tried to tell me her name but of course it was in German, and I was struggling to understand. Eventually she pointed to the card in the back of the seat in front of us that provides evacuation protocols. Across the top of the brochure were the words SAFETY. She pointed to this word, SAFETY, and looked at me.

Safety brochure in the back seat pocket of a plane.

I looked at her and said, “Your name is safety?”

In my head I was thinking, “Wow God! You gave me a German speaking angel whose name is SAFETY??? So much better than an angel named Jessie!” (Ha, Ha)

Then she took her finger and covered up the “Y” at the end of the word and replaced it with an “A”. Her name was SAFETA. What a beautiful name it was! In Arabic name that means pure/clean. Instantly I felt safe! Our conversation pretty much stopped at that point because I had to turn my phone off and that kept us from talking but there were little ways that we communicated in the seat. For example: when we started to land, I felt quite sick. There’s something about descending on a plane that doesn’t sit well with my stomach and she showed me how to position myself to feel better and how to breathe. SAFETA was mothering me. I felt safe indeed!

She was there to take care of me.

When we started to depart from the plane, I decided that I wanted to return the favor. You see, SAFETA spoke no English. She couldn’t read English either. I knew that navigating the airport in New York might prove to be challenging and so I wanted to make sure that she made it to her next gate. After all, we were headed to the same place, Germany.

Busy airport terminal crowded with people.

I knew that she would be on my next flight and so I walked behind her through the terminal. By this time, I was feeling pretty nauseous and just wanted to go and find my gate, but I waited patiently outside the bathroom where SAFETA had just entered. I didn’t want her to get lost or have trouble. I waited for a while, but SAFETA never came out of the bathroom. Eventually I decided that I couldn’t risk missing my plane and walked towards my departure gate for Germany. I needed to sit before I vomited all over the walkway. I didn’t feel well.

We wouldn’t leave for Germany for another hour or so and that gave me a moment to rest. I watched the terminal looking for any signs of SAFETA, she was nowhere to be found! Then I searched the gate area and SAFETA was not there. I was saddened by this because her presence was so comforting, and I was feeling so ill, and I was all alone once again.

boarding plane 3 to berlin, germany

This was my last flight of the day. This was it! I had waited all day to meet my angel and now the moment had finally arrived. This was going to be my longest flight, over 8 hours, and the prospect of sharing that time with an angelic being allowed me to push aside my physical discomfort, try to eat a granola bar, and slowly begin boarding the plane.

When I found my seat, I was pleasantly surprised! I was seated at the back of the middle section and right in front of the bathroom. You might be wondering why that would make me excited? Well, I was already feeling sick and on a flight of over 8 hours I knew that a few bathroom visits would be in order. I was alone and worried about my belongings being left unattended when I left the seat and on those flights that are carrying 300 plus people, there is always a line for the bathroom.

I was situated right beside the only other room I would need access to. No need to wait in line. No awkward standing and walking in front of all those people for the restroom. And as an added bonus, there was a small space between the back of my seat and the wall of the bathroom. It was perfect for storing my belongings privately so that they didn’t have to sit at my feet and take up any leg space!

It was the most PERFECT PLANE SEAT!

I eagerly sat by the window and anxiously waited and held my breath every time a person would walk by and slow down. But they all inevitably kept on walking. Some would pause for a brief moment only to turn and go down another aisle.

I made a phone call to some very special people in my life and was chatting away while boarding was happening. We prayed together and then I told them that I need to go because my angel was going to board any moment and I wanted to be ready. We said our goodbyes and I love You’s and hung up. Now, my full attention was on the aisle. I was nervous. My palms were sweating but the excitement had pushed away the sickness and I felt better than ever.

When all of a sudden, the pilot came over the loudspeaker, “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, welcome onboard Flight (#) with service from New York to Berlin. Cabin doors are closed, and boarding is complete. We ask that you fasten your seatbelts at this time and secure all baggage underneath your seat or in the overhead compartments…etc…”

I looked at the empty seat beside me in disappointment.

Two blue airplane seats.

This was a HUGE plane and there were three rows of seating. The middle row had the most seats with the two outer rows having only two seats. I was in the right outer row and sitting by the window alone. My eyes began to fill with tears as I looked at the cabin I was seated in. It was completely full. There were no empty seats. Everyone was jammed and crowded into their places beside SOMEONE. But not me. I looked again at the empty seat that had a small pillow and pre-packaged blanket sitting in it and God spoke to me, “You said that it would be really great if I would sit by you on the plane.”

I looked around again and realized that this was the ONLY seat without a person sitting in it on a completely full flight!

God had showed up.

After all, it was my first and original request, but I ignorantly dismissed it as impossible and instead asked for an angel to be with me instead of HIM!

Now, I truly had nothing to worry about. I placed my belongings behind my seat and beside the bathroom wall and took off my shoes. I unwrapped my blanket and pillow and then unwrapped God’s blanket and pillow (He didn’t need them) and situated it all comfortably in order to sleep. Next, I lifted the armrest between us and laid my head in His lap and slept soundly on that 8-hour flight to an unknown country to meet and unknown group of teachers.

I awakened once to eat and another time I awakened to look out the window. All I saw was what appeared to be white glaciers on the ocean. It was BEAUTIFUL! It was so dark and so clear that it looked like we were right above the ocean. I stopped my steward, who was a very kind man, and asked him what all that white “stuff” was. He replied, “we are flying over Greenland.”

Greenland and the Northern lights at night.

It was miraculous and wonderful and breathtaking!

Now, I don’t hesitate to travel or get on planes. I also don’t hesitate to do hard or uncomfortable things. So often people want to experience the miraculous, but they don’t want to relinquish control. They don’t want to be put in uncomfortable positions or venture into the “unknown”. But I have learned that God does some amazing things when we don’t hold the reigns. To have complete faith and trust that God is good, and He knows what He’s doing, is the BEST place to live.

We don’t get the luxury of not stretching our faith and experiencing the unprecedented. Those things are reserved for people who take God at His word and walk hand in hand with Him. Good news is that it’s available to us all! My advice… book the trip and rest in His omnipresence. Who knows…? You might just get a surprise visit from God while on a plane. I know that I did!

pin it for later!

check out more miraculous stories here:

The day I met an angel

who do we travel with?

We travel with EF Education First Travel Company! EF leads expertly guided tours to the world’s greatest sights and landscapes. Itineraries are tailored to the needs of teachers and students at all levels. We also develop adventures and travel experiences for people of all ages and interests.

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