This evening after Johnny got home from work, I suggested taking a walk. The temperature had gotten into the high 90’s and it was still crazy hot outside. So, we headed out to the mall to take a lap or two. We got there just at 7:00 when the place was closing down, so we had a bit more freedom to walk as the shop owners were doing their closing routines for the night. At one point a security guard asked if we were ready to leave and I signaled that we wanted to walk a bit further. His response “as long as the walk is toward the exit”. 🙂 When we got out to the car I said to Johnny, “I just feel that we are not finished for the evening”. At which point I looked down on the seat at a pair of OP flip-flops that I wanted to return to Walmart. Mind you, I did not have a receipt and did not know if they would even let me return them.
Now, this is where it gets good. As we were pulling into Walmart a couple of women (in a beat up van) signaled us to stop. Johnny rolled down his window and the ladies said that they were hungry and could we give them money for food. Johnny said that we could give them food…but not money. They said that was what they wanted, food…for themselves and their four children. When we pulled into the parking lot I brought out my flip-flops that I was going to return…and it was obvious that we were not here at Walmart for that. I asked if either of the ladies needed a pair of shoes and the one (whom I found out was named Theresa) said that she wore a size 10 shoe. The driver, Lori said with a sweet (missing teeth) smile that she wore a size 8 and that she needed some. Before she even got out of the driver’s seat she had them on. Theresa said that Lori, her sister, had been wearing a pair of dollar store flip-flops and that she needed a better pair. Then they proceeded to lift the hood of their car and to turn off the fan. As we walked into the store to buy them some groceries (and Lori hopped on a scooter) I began to ask about their children. They had two teenagers, a four-year old and a 20 month old. Theresa and Lori were raising these kids without a man in their lives to help. As we shopped for the basics we learned much about them. We learned that Theresa was the cook, and wanted peppers and beans to go with the ground beef to make their special goulash. We found out that they were trying to get food from St. Vincent’s food bank, and they could not get ahold of them today. They cleaned houses for a living and they were in this part of town applying for a job. They seemed so grateful and Lori even said that she would send us money to pay us back. As we were checking out I asked if they had a church that they fellowship at. Theresa said not since they moved here. At that I said…”This is our gift to you, but you CAN do something in return. You can take your children to church next Sunday”. Theresa said that they knew Jesus died for their sins and that He was their Savior and that the children knew Him. It was sweet to hear her say it with such belief.
As we walked the cart of groceries and diapers out to their car, they asked about our children. I told them that we had three…but that one of them was lost. They asked about her. “Have we heard from her? Does she ever call?” “No. Nothing” Johnny sadly replied. They asked how old she was. “25…” They said that they and the children would pray for her tonight before bed. After the groceries were put away we took their hands and we formed a circle. As the sun was setting in the Walmart parking lot we prayed for them and their children. As we finished praying Theresa and Lori themselves beautifully called on Jesus for our daughter. To bring her home. To have her call. To keep her safe. After the prayer, we all hugged and then Johnny and I got into our car. We then saw them go to the hood of their car and lift it to turn on the fan. We knew that Jesus had heard Theresa’s, Lori’s and our prayers. What a blessing that those flip-flops did not fit me and that I had not felt that we were “quite finished for the evening”.
Stock Photo of Walmart