As my husband has periodically reminded me, we shouldn't remember and acknowledge God's goodness only when we have obvious reminders of it. He is always good. But I had an experience lately that caused me to rejoice more than usual in His providence.
A week ago, Saturday, I loaded up my nine younger children, ages 5 months to almost 15 years. We had a graduation party for Joe's cousin and our Goddaughter, Amber, to attend in Redwood Falls, which is a little over a five hour drive south of us. We were then continuing on to Joe's parents' house where our oldest son Jeremy lives during the school year. He attends ECHO Charter School at a town near them. Since his school year was complete, we were bringing him home with us. Yeah!
Getting back to the story, I was driving along; all was well; we were listening to Focus on the Family Radio Theater, The Secret Garden. Our vehicle is pretty noisy, more so on a windy day like it was that day. Because of the noise, we were struggling to hear the story even at full volume. Suddenly, about half way between Sebeka and Wadena, it became much harder to hear over the thump, thump, thump from outside. I was tempted to ignore the sound, being used to the constantly changing racket of the van. But when it became apparent that I was having difficulty keeping the van from pulling over into the oncoming traffic, I suspected a flat tire.
Ah yes, the front driver's side. Flat as can be. Those steel belt wire things poking out all over. Big blowout site. Not just one of those "fix the hole and re-inflate" situations, but a "need a new tire right now" situation. Besides which, I suspected that I had no jack or spare. And it was, may I remind you, a Saturday afternoon. In the middle of nowhere. Truthfully, I was not even sure where we were. I remembered going through Sebeka, but I couldn't remember in which order the towns occurred, and I could not remember going through Menahga.
Just having a cell phone was reassuring. I knew that I could call Joe. I could call a tow truck. I could call 911 if need be. Thank you for technology. But I still had no idea how to tell them to find me. Somewhere on US71 heading south. That's a pretty big area.
After trying the two farm sites immediately adjacent, and finding no one home, Matt tried the next one down; not far, maybe 2 or 3 hundred yards. Thank you for teen age boys. Soon he returned on a golf cart driven by a Mr. Wells.
Upon seeing how far gone my tire was, Mr. Wells suggested I back into his driveway where he could work on my poor van more easily. I was a bit reluctant to try this, since I HATE backing up in this van. After a few tense minutes, I made it without managing to back into the flow of traffic.
I unloaded the kids and settled them under a lilac bush with our picnic lunch. Mr. Wells and Matt removed my flattened tire and then he gave me a ride into Wadena to see whether we could find a tire shop open on a Saturday afternoon. The second place we tried, Cenex, was open. Thank you for Cenex. They had a tire the size we needed. Thank you for tire. Soon we were on the way back to the house.
Before we went into town Mr. Wells had taken me into his house to meet his wife. He told her the kids were outside having a picnic lunch and the older ones would watch the younger. I was a little bit nervous about leaving them. Not that I feared for their safety at the hands of a strange woman. I suppose something bad could happen, but I like to believe in the lauded "Minnesota Nice" idea. I was, however, nervous the kids would have been naughty or caused Mrs. Wells extra stress. Mean, we're talking about nine children playing in a stranger's yard in this age of liability suits. I would not ever hold anyone accountable for my children getting hurt in the normal course of playing on someone else's property. Certainly not when this family was rescuing me. But Mrs. Wells had no way of knowing that.
And so we returned to find the kids playing nicely; Mrs. Wells was sitting on the front steps visiting with various of them. She did not seem at all bothered by this unusual Saturday happenstance.
When I got back from town, Inge was in immediate need of her mother, so I sat on the steps to take care of her needs. After Mr. Wells got the van "ready to roll", he gave the kids rides in his golf cart. Then he let the older ones drive each other around.
When we were ready to leave, I offered him some money for his time and work and he replied, "Absolutely not. You made our day."
Well, let me tell you, that is not what a mother of nine would expect to hear from someone. I always feel I must apologize for the sheer number of us. We are a bit overwhelming. It really made my day to have such a wonderful flat tire experience.
The behavior of the Wells' reminds me of one of my favorite Bible passages, Hebrews 13:2 "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it."
I certainly can not hold claim to any of my family members being angels, but I do thank God for providing us with a couple of angels that day.