When my son was 16 years old, he was accepted into a summer French immersion program in Chicoutimi, Quebec.
He was excited to participate in this program, but this entailed a 12-hour bus ride with a total of three transfers. The first bus was to leave Toronto at midnight. Phil had never travelled on his own before, but I told him not to worry, that I was sure that the bus would be full of students attending the same program. He was happy and relieved to hear it.
When we arrived at the bus station at 11:45 pm, we realized that there were no other students waiting to board. They were all adults. As we waited, Phil started to become anxious, asking where the other students were. Everyone started to board, and we kept looking desperately for young people travelling to the same destination. On the verge of tears, my son told us that he could not make the journey on his own. We didn't see anybody, so I started praying: “Lord, if it is Your will, please send an angel to go with Phil.” My husband asked what we were going to do. I told him, “Please pray with me, ask the Lord to send an angel.” We prayed.
Suddenly, a young lady showed up out of nowhere and dropped her bags almost at our feet. I thought she was too close, almost rude, but she said, “Is this bus going to Montreal?”
“Yes,” I hurried to answer. “My son is travelling to Montreal, and this is his first time.”
She said, “This is my first time, too.”
“My son is going to Quebec City,” I added.
And she said, “I’m going to Quebec City, too.”
So I asked, “Can my son go with you, please?”
She said, “Sure, come on Phil,” and offered him her hand.
They jumped on the bus, and my son looked at us through the window with a big smile on his face. The bus pulled out, and we were left wondering where this young lady had come from. I didn't have time to ask for her name or where she was from.
The next day, my son called from Chicoutimi. He had arrived, and he sounded very happy.
Before he hung up, I asked him, “Who was the lady who travelled with you? Where was she from? What was her name?”
He answered, “I don't know, Mom. She was a little bit strange. She didn't talk during the trip. We arrived in Montreal, and she said, ‘Come on, Phil, let’s get on the bus to Quebec City.’ When we arrived in Quebec City, she took me to the bus that was heading to Chicoutimi, and she said, ‘This is the bus going to Chicoutimi, and it is full of students like you going to the same program. Go ahead and get on. I have to get back.”
At that moment I understood that she had been the answer to our prayers.
Erminia Malvestutto is a mother of three grown children and a doting grandmother of three. She lives in Oakville, Ontario, and volunteers at St. Vincent de Paul at St. Michael’s Church.
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