In 1998, Darlene Edwards, her husband Lee and their sixteen-year-old daughter Cheryl lived in a trailer on top of a mountain in Hughes Creek, West Virginia. "We had owned a house, but had to sell it," Darlene explains. The family had run into some financial difficulties, and hadn't the money to buy property or rent a space to put it on. But they had found a trailer at a trailer park, and Lee saw a lot of possibilities in it. "Some good friends of ours owned part of a mountain," says Darlene, "and they told us to go ahead and put our trailer up there for as long as we needed, and so we did."
It was a scary place, Darlene says. The road up the side of the mountain had been dug out by a home-made bulldozer, and it wasn't easy to maneuver their car up and down. "We slid off that mountain in our car, and we slid on the mountain in our car," says Darlene. "In the winter when we started to slide on the snow, we always aimed for the side of the mountain to stop us. On the left side was a big cliff, with about a fifty-to-seventy-foot drop. One snowy night after church we actually walked up the mountain because we couldn't get the car up to the trailer."
Actually, where the trailer now sat (delivered by a moving company) was not the highest part of the mountain. There was another level above the trailer and behind it. Their friends hunted for deer, rabbit, squirrel and wild turkey, and Darlene's family gathered wood and coal to burn in the fireplace. In a way, it was a peaceful paradise----if one never forgot the danger of losing one's balance and falling. At one point, their eighteen-month-old grandson came to visit, and as Lee was driving up the side, the toddler kept saying, "I sceered, Paw Paw, I sceerd!" Darlene knew how he felt. But she also believed that God was very close to them, and would take care of the situations they couldn't manage.
Lee began working on the trailer as soon as it had been moved onto its permanent place. He was going to remodel it and make it larger, but at one point he decided to build an outside chimney so the smoke could escape outside the trailer. He was using red clay bricks which had been dumped in the front of the trailer. Darlene and Cheryl were helping by carrying bricks from the front to the back of the trailer where Lee was making the chimney. "We only had about three feet to walk on behind the trailer, because there was a steep cliff behind Lee, and he had warned us several times," Darlene says. "Cheryl and I had made several trips around the trailer; we would wait until he was almost out of bricks and then we'd go together to the pile and each pick up about six bricks and carry them slowly to where Lee was working."
It was getting dark, Darlene noticed, but Lee was so close to being finished that he wouldn't want to stop. She heard him ask Cheryl for five more bricks---that would probably do it---and caution her again to be careful. Cheryl went towards the pile as Darlene sat down on a stump, watching her. Cheryl was careful, and as she made her way toward Lee, arms loaded with bricks, Darlene got up to make sure Cheryl didn't walk too close to the cliff edge. Darlene was also watching for wild animals, just in case a mountain lion or wildcat was looking for food. They weren't usually outside when it got this dark.
Just then Cheryl, arms empty, came around the side of the trailer. The job was done. "And then I heard a sound," Darlene says. "It was a loud whoosh! Just like the sound of a large wing, except it was a firm and solid noise, not like anything I had ever heard before. And then I saw something that helped me to know what I'd heard. It was a white figure, near the edge of the cliff." And as she watched, she saw an eight-foot wing open in the shadows.
"Did you see that?" Cheryl cried out. "Did you hear that?" Her face was awestruck, her eyes wide in wonder.
It had been an enormous unfurling of wings, Darlene says, like a giant-sized fan, and she had seen them wide open, huge, as if protecting them all. Had Cheryl been inches away from falling? Had there been other unseen dangers?
"What's going on?" Lee came quickly from behind the trailer. And when they told him, he too wore a look of amazement. "I thought I saw an angel the day I brought the bricks up," he told the women. "But I just wasn't sure..."
Darlene was. Each of them had seen a guardian angel and she knew none of them would be harmed that night.
The family lived in the trailer (which is still on the mountain) for awhile and then moved. But they never doubted that they had angels all around them. "I love to tell people about it," Darlene says today, "and how God has revealed his protection for us."