Roving rabbis, from Bangkok to Brooklyn, know to always expect the unexpected.

We are stationed in the bustling college town of Madison, Wisconsin, where we assist the local Chabad rabbi and rebbetzin to reach out to the Jewish population.

We’d spent the better part of the day visiting various businesses and stores, and planned to utilize the evening hours to visit some of our contacts in their homes.

When we pulled up to the address we’d been given for Sarah Z., she immediately came out of her home, her agitation obvious. “Who are you and what do you want from me?” she nearly yelled.

We knew we were treading delicate waters.

“Hi Sarah, we are travelling Chabad rabbis, and we heard you could use a visit.”

As soon as she heard the word rabbi, her face lit up. “G‑d, your heard me!” Sarah exclaimed, looking heavenward. She graciously invited us inside, and made sure we were comfortable. Quickly, she began pouring out her tale of woe. She was struggling with many issues, and was under constant stress. When she saw us approaching her home, she had thought we were part of a recent spate of missionaries. She couldn't believe that we were actually rabbis who had come to visit her simply because she was a Jew! The evening passed quickly in a wonderful discussion of Judaism and its applications to modern life. We proposed putting a mezuzah on her front door, and Sarah was more than amenable. We also left her with a supply of Shabbat candles.

Sarah saw us to the door nearly four hours after she had almost chased us away. It was past ten p.m., too late to meet anyone else that night. But as Sarah cheerfully waved goodbye, standing near her new mezuzah, we felt satisfied with the evening’s accomplishments.