A few years ago, I was on my way from Cincinnati headed north on I-71 to visit family in Canton.
I was somewhere north of Columbus when I passed a man and woman who were obviously broken down along the side of the highway.
My first impulse was to ignore their demise, whatever it was, but concern, especially for that woman, had me slowing down and pulling over to see what I could do to help.
The woman came bustling toward my car and I got out to meet her. As soon as she began to talk, I realized I wasn’t understanding much that she was saying, but recognized enough to know she was speaking Spanish.
I know a bit of Spanish, but not much. I’d had some brief audio lessons to learn some key words and phrases in Spanish to prepare for some mission trips I had been on in Mexico.
Somehow, we managed to communicate enough to understand they seemed to have run out of gas. I offered to take her to get gas while the man agreed to stay with the truck.
At the next exit, I bought a gas can and filled it with gas, as she seemed to not have money either. She kept calling me her “angel” in Spanish and thanking me for stopping.
I was feeling pretty good about my “random act of kindness” until…
We got back on I-71, headed south to the next exit so we could get back on and head north. When we got to the exact spot where the truck had run out of gas, to our surprise, the truck was gone! And I have a stranger in my car that I barely can understand. She kept shaking her head and did not seem to know what to do now.
Finally, I suggested we check the next exit where we had purchased the gas. I thought he may have gotten the truck started and gone there to find her. But he was not there.
I offered her my phone, but she could not track down anyone. I did not know what to do with her and she was very worried. I was able to reach a friend of mine who speaks fluent Spanish and she talked to her. My friend found out she was from Cincinnati and had no idea what happened to her husband. She did have relatives in Cincinnati that she thought she could reach later.
I ended up leaving her there after someone she reached finally answered her call and agreed to come pick her up. I hope it ended well. Not sure if that husband just thought this would be a good time to split, or just got confused because of our lack of communication.
But it did not discourage my desire to continue to find practical ways to show God’s love.
In fact, as we begin to ponder our holiday giving, I thought I would pass on a few ideas that you might want to incorporate in your plans.
Here’s a few I’ve tried and some I have yet to try:
• Fill a purse you no longer use with basic necessities such as warm gloves, a scarf, sock cap, protein bar, hair brush, chapstick, etc., and next time you see a homeless person, give it to them.
• Save those extra shampoos, soaps and lotions that they leave in the hotel room. Pick up some wash cloths when they go on sale, and fill a quart-size storage bag with both. Take it to the homeless shelter for them to share with their guests.
• Share some quarters with folks at the laundromat.
• Pay for the person behind you at the Taco Bell drive-thru (you might want to ask how much their order is before you offer to pay).
• Over-tip your server next time you eat out.
• Buy an extra turkey and all the fixings to go with it. Give it to someone you know who could use it.
I’m sure you can think of more. If so, feel free to share it with us on our Facebook page at facebook.com/thesaltmagazine.
However you choose to “gift,” I trust you will find time to ponder the significance of these holidays we celebrate, and that the meaning does not get swallowed up in the tremendous “noise” of getting things.
May you be blessed with hearts and minds that find creative ways to show you care.