While I was on my mission, I met an unknown hero. Living an ordinary life, whose neighbours had no idea who they were living next to.
We knocked on his door, one of 40 houses in the estate. There was no answer, but we continued knocking. Even when we moved on, I could not get my mind off his house. I did not know why. In one of the last houses, we spoke to a lady who was responsible for the supply of wine in her own church, but was finding it hard to keep up with the increase in consumption. As I looked out of the window, my mind was drawn to the house at no. 5, so I asked her if she knew who lived there. She told us not to go there. The man living there did not speak to anybody and would often smell of alcohol. I asked if he was angry or violent. She said no, and that he was just a quiet man who kept to himself.
We thanked her for her time and left. Again, I felt drawn to no 5. So, we returned and knocked once more. At first there was no answer. On the second try, the door finally opened, and a gentlemanly looking man greeted us and introduced himself as Bill. We said we had a message we would like to share with him, and he invited us in.
We asked Bill about his life. As we listened, we noticed all the pictures he had on the wall of various aircraft and people. He explained that he was a pilot during World War II. The pictures were mostly of the aircraft he flew and of him together with his crew. While he talked, we could see that these memories were very special to him.
As we asked more about his service in World War II, he produced a medal, together with a letter from the Royal Family thanking him for his service. He explained that the medal was for flying the highest number of missions over enemy territory. At that moment we were taken aback. We suddenly realised that a true hero stood before us. He was such a humble man who only claimed that he had just done his duty.
We listened for a couple of hours and were educated about what it was like to be a young pilot. From being shot at most days, to coping with friends dying. All while continuing to serve.
As we asked what happened after the war, and he told us he had returned to his home, but his wife and children were no longer there. It had been hard for her to wait, and her departure hit him hard. He continued to live on his own ever since. He said we were the first real visitors he had in many years.
I asked Bill if he believed in God, and he did. I asked him if he wanted a blessing and he agreed. It was a very tender and responsible moment to give him a blessing that God had not forgotten him, God understands, and he will be blessed in the life hereafter.
He thanked us deeply for coming and said we were an answer to his prayers. We hugged, with tears in our eyes, and promised to be back.
As I stood outside his house, I looked around on the estate feeling like I wanted everyone to know what a special neighbour they had. But immediately I got the feeling- “God knows”.
Every year when it is Remembrance Day, I always remember Bill, and the huge sacrifice he made, so that we can all live in peace, and have the freedom we enjoy. I also learned to never judge someone- but instead seek to help them.