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Joy in the Journey

May 2, 2013

by Linda Beerman
Each day is an adventure, it seems. Sometimes it takes you down the same familiar path with not much changing. Other times it will take an unexpected twist. Once in awhile those surprises bring us a chance to do good in this hurting world, and in the end leave you with a smile and good memories.

On a cool evening late last August, we stopped at McDonald's in Worthington for a bite to eat after a church meeting. I noticed an older pick-up with three young people staring under the hood. We continued on our mission inside, but when leaving, I saw them again. Mentioning to Dan that they had been there when we entered, he asked what kind of pick-up it was. We drove nearer to them, rolled down our window, and asked if they needed help. They did. Their problem was a 1984 truck that would not start when they had come back out from eating. The only help they appeared to have was a small flashlight, which they were using to peer down into the insides. By this time it was about eleven P.M., so it was dark and the only other light was from a pole nearby.

These three college kids, one young man and two young ladies, were trying to get back to their homes in Vermont in time to start college the following Monday. They had been traveling all day from the Black Hills area, after trading in a car that had died on them, for this pick-up at a salvage yard. In addition, they had paid twelve hundred dollars, which they had earned from working in Montana all summer. Well, the girls had worked there. The guy had actually worked in Vermont, then taken a road trip in his car to California and back to Montana to pick up the young ladies to head home in time for college classes.

First, Dan asked if they had a jack to lift the truck up so he could look under it. One of the gals immediately found one for him in the pile of belongings from the back of the truck. He asked me if we had a blanket in the car, and before I could answer, one of the young ladies asked him if he "wanted to get cozy". He laughed and said he just wanted something a little softer to lay on under there than the concrete. Not being able to see anything too easily in the dark, he went on to check the battery. Once again, one of the girls retrieved a garden stake from the insides of the truck to check for a spark. The battery seemed fine, so Dan went to the cab to see if it would start for him. When he touched the key, the switch mechanism in the steering column just was barely hanging there. He asked the young man to try it, as he had been driving it before. But it still would not respond.

At this point we offered to take them home with us for the night, or to get them motel rooms. Dan explained that he could probably fix it, but it would be much easier in the morning when he had some light and maybe a few more tools. They were appreciative of the offer, but really wanted to go on that evening if they possibly could. They needed to get across country in a few days. Dan decided then that we needed to make a quick trip to Walmart for a couple items that would help the situation. He told them "not to go anywhere". Then we all laughed...where were they going to go?

We purchased a set of jumper cables (good for OUR trunk too), a large flashlight, and a set of cheap tools. We returned in a few minutes and Dan once again crawled under the vehicle. What he saw with the brighter light, was that a nut was loose from the battery cable on the starter. It was there, but just not tight enough to let the pick-up run. When he told them to try starting it once more, it took right off. One of the gals just leaped into the air and screamed with joy!

As we were putting the jack, blanket and other things away, Dan noticed that one of their headlights was completely hanging down from the front of the truck. He told them that was especially dangerous in deer country, and wondered if they happened to have any duck tape. What do you know? From the back of the pick-up AGAIN, one of the girls retrieved a roll. However, after using it, there wasn't enough to secure the light well enough. What about a bungee cord? Would you believe they also had not only one, but three of those, all in different sizes? It took no time at all for Dan to wind one of them around the light and attach it behind the frame. Everything seemed pretty intact and usable, and we felt better about sending them on their way. (It also brought back crazy memories of some of our earlier transportation. You do what you have to do, right?)

They wanted to know our name and address because they said they would send us some gifts from Vermont. We told them it wasn't necessary, but they insisted. These three young people were some of the kindest, calmest, and most polite we have encountered. It was a joy to meet them, and a blessing to be of help. It would be fun to see them again some day!

Before they left, I asked them if they were "pray-ers". They gave me puzzled looks, and then the young man said, "Oh, do you mean religious? Yes!" I told them we wanted to pray over their pick-up before they left, so we all joined hands around the front of their truck. In the dark of the night, about 12:30 A.M. by now, we asked for protection for them and and for their means of transport to keep running! After exchanging handshakes, and then hugs, we gave them the set of tools and sent them to the interstate.

One morning last December, the mail lady arrived beeping her horn, with a package for us. It was from Vermont, and held a wealth of goodies for us! A quart jug of Vermont Pure Maple Syrup, two bars of delicious chocolate, and two bottles of India Pale Ale from the Shed Brewery in Stowe, Vermont. Included in this box was the sweetest thank you note, handwritten, and glued onto a little paper doily. This is what it said, " Dan and Linda, Thank you a million times over for your kindness, patience, and open hearts. You aided 3 strangers when we needed it most. We are forever grateful. Much love, Jake, Mia and Hannah P.S. The truck made it to Massachussets before it completely died - close enough to get picked up!"

A time in our memories that was one of those surprises with a blessed ending. There are a lot of good people in this world. May your heart encounter one of them today!!

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