January 9, 2021
By Jillian Kamel
Have you ever sat on the other side of the world, in a foreign airport, completely overwhelmed, exhausted, and weeping for your momma like you’re five years old? If not, no worries, I’ve got it covered. In October of 2017, I spent 14 days abroad devoting half of my time across several regions of Nepal and the other half in a region of India called Dowlaiswaram. Traveling with me were eight incredible women of faith; each a spiritual momma to me in one way or another. I don’t know what I would have done without each one of them. Traveling in these regions was not easy but these women were warriors on a mission. No matter how many times a flight was cancelled or delayed, or how long the train ride was, they knew how to choose joy, be encouraged and find a way to have some fun.
During our time in Nepal, I, and one of my teammates became ill. With what, we still aren’t sure but with the travel it took to finally arrive it really could have been anything. We managed to keep up with the team and complete our goals each day, but by the fourth day on the ground my body was really begging me for rest. Around 3pm, our wonderful host Ramesh went to the pharmacy for some medicine and sent me back to my room to try and sleep. I promised the girls I would be up before the evening was over, but my body had other plans and I ended up sleeping until 3am the next morning. I finally felt I had broken a 4-day fever and was feeling a bit better. It was our last day in Nepal and I didn’t want to miss a thing so I put on some makeup, got dressed, and decided I was going to fake it until I made it and took on the day full steam ahead.
Before I knew it, we were beginning our journey to India which included three flights and one long layover that would allow us to sneak off to a hotel for some sleep in-between our last two flights. However, a flight delay on our second flight caused for a much longer layover earlier on, and not enough time in the evening for the hotel. It was now 5:30pm, I had been up since 3am, and it looked like we weren’t going to see the outside of an airport again until 11 o’clock the following morning. Having become feverish once more, I began feeling my spirit breaking down.
I asked one of the girls if I could borrow their phone and decided I would try to ring home, give a quick update on where we were, and let everyone know all was well. I stepped away from my team and found a spot where I was all alone. As soon as I heard that first ring, I began to weep. I truly mean, “weep,” the kind of cry that starts somewhere deep inside your gut. An uncontrollable cry that completely took over while I struggled to catch my breath. My husband, my then fiancé, Fadi answered the phone and immediately said “Jillian? Is that you? Oh no, what’s wrong?!” I tried so hard to regain composure, but the sound of his voice was home and all I knew was that I wanted to be where he was. I wanted to feel better. I wanted out of that airport.
“I can’t do this, I’m too sick, it’s too hard. I feel like I’m wasting time, what am I even doing? Who have I even helped? Babe please just get me home.” I said.
But he could see so much clearer than I in that moment, “Hang on now, let’s think about this for a minute,” he said. “Look at the experiences you’ve had even though you’re sick. What more God might have in store for you! And if not, if you do nothing more but have you made an impact on just one person this trip, it is a victory for the Kingdom.”
I told him, through a mess of tears, that he was probably right; however, I was really struggling to see it. He asked if he could pray for me while tried to compose myself and told me to just sit back and listen.
“Father God,” he began, “Please take over for Jillian and her team. They are tired and discouraged but want to keep going for you Lord. Please encourage them. Please give Jillian peace to continue. We praise you for all that you have done. For getting them where they are safely, for bringing people to them, for loving the people of Nepal and sharing Your eyes for them with us. Please give Jillian something, anything, a moment to hold onto when it gets hard. Please show her that her time is so worth it,” he continued.
His prayers on my behalf made me cry even more. By this time however, it was a new kind of cry. It was tears of gratitude, of humility, and of grace.
After another minute, we said our goodbyes and I hung up the phone. I sat for a moment, eyes closed, breathing deep, when I heard a voice to my right say, “I surely hope everything is alright,” I looked up to see a beautiful Indian woman sitting to my side.
“Yes, everything is alright. It’s just been hard-few days. Thank you for checking though, you’re too kind” I said. She shook her head and hesitated for a moment.
“You wouldn’t happen to be here to spread the Gospel, would you?” she asked.
Surprised by her question I stumbled to find my words as I replied, “Well yes! I am! Uh, sort of anyways. Why do you ask?”
“I’m not sure,” she said. “I just had to ask.” She paused for another moment then continued, “You know I have a good friend, from university, she’s from America. Are you from America?” I shook my head once more as she went on, “Ah, my friend from America, she too came to spread the Gospel. The only reason she came was for that. She gave me a bible you know; I just began reading it.” She stopped and we looked at each other both feeling a bit bewildered. She went on, “I don’t know much, I just started, but your God… um, your God… well… I think He wants you to know… well, uh… He says you didn’t come for nothing. He says your time is worth it.”
If I wasn’t weeping before, I was now. How did she know to say that to me? How did she know that Fadi had just prayed a prayer over me to be encouraged in that way, so very specifically? She couldn’t have heard him on the other end of the phone, she hadn’t even been there!
Shocked, I reached for her, smiling, thanking her, not even knowing what to do or how to respond. I asked for her name and to tell me more about herself. She laughed and told me I wouldn’t be able to pronounce it. As she began to speak again, there was a tap on my left side as my teammate had approached us. Still gasping with tears and excitement I said, “come on this side, come meet my friend…” as I turned back, she was gone. I looked up to see her calmly walking away in the distance. I couldn’t even begin to understand what had just happened. It was that moment that completely changed the trajectory of the second half of the trip for me.
Sometimes, we have prayers of desperation and we cannot begin to see how they are being answered; therefore, we believe they aren’t even heard. Sometimes, we know they were heard but the answer is not what we thought we had wanted. And sometimes yet, we pray and receive an answer almost instantaneously. Sometimes, we pray and meet angels in airports.