It seemed like a good idea at the time, and maybe it really was. I was standing in the parking lot of the local supermarket when their vehicle came creaking by. It was a 1992 something-or-other, and it was towing behind it a small travel trailer of an even greater vintage. This travel trailer was festooned with bumper stickers saying that abortion was murder, and in between the stickers were various handwritten Bible verses , mostly misspelled, and none of them King James. The vehicle rolled past me and pulled up to the no-parking zone, where it proceeded to park.
Let me be clear here; I think people who take a stand for Jesus Christ are few and far between, so if I see someone trying to be a witness, I want to encourage them, even if they are doing a bad job. With this in mind I closed my car door and walked over to where the vehicle was parked. A heavyset woman was in the driver’s seat and I could see a small dog of some kind running around rapidly in the back-seat and yipping. I walked up and she opened her door since the power windows almost never work on a 1992 something-or-other. I told her that I appreciated their camper, and asked her if they were local (a question I already knew the answer to) or if they were just passing through. She told me her and her husband, who had gone into the store, had a mobile ministry where they go and preach out in the open at various events.
“So you’re street preachers?”
“ Oh sure”
“Well me too!” We chitchatted for a few minutes waiting for her husband to come out and finally I asked them what their plans were for the evening. She said they had none since they were between events, so I invited them to come to my house and eat supper with my family. Keep in mind that I have no cell phone, and payphones are increasingly rare, so I now was heading towards my house with virtual strangers in tow and no way to notify my wife.
We arrived on the property and I instructed my new friends to hang out while I talked to my wife. I said “Honey, good news! We have company!” I then explained the situation and her assessment was clear. She said “So you basically picked up some strangers in the parking lot and brought them home.” It seemed like so much less of a good idea when she put it that way. But I gave her my assurances that everything would be fine and she began trying to make our meal stretch a little further.
My wife, in addition to just being generally speaking a better human being than I am, is gracious to a fault, and she welcomed these people in and continued to prepare supper while we sat in the living room and talked.
As the evening wore on, it became obvious that, although they were nice people, they were slightly crazy, with a host of hang-ups and grievances and issues. The man hardly spoke a word while the lady gave her opinion on a wide variety of topics whether that opinion had been solicited or not. She was frankly very argumentative, and I had to politely hold my ground in my own living room.
While I got kids ready for bed, my wife got a chance to talk, and at one point pulled me into the laundry room and asked “Did you even talk to these people before you brought them home?” She told me that the lady’s ‘testimony’ was that she had gotten saved when she was 12 years old when a priest and 2 nuns held her down and she was slain in the spirit, then filled with the spirit with the manifestation of talking in an unknown tongue. I looked towards the living room and said “Ok…….they’re crazy.” To which my wife replied “And you brought them home!”
I had not really discussed how the evening was going to end with our guests, but with the temperature dropping, I felt I needed to offer them something. My wife had absolutely no interest in them sleeping in our house, and so I delicately inquired as to what their living arrangements were in the trailer. I was told that all they needed was an electrical connection to run the heater and they would be fine out in the camper for the night. I told them that, unfortunately, I wasn’t sure that we would be able to provide them any sort of breakfast in the morning. The lady assured me that everything was fine, that she expected they would be back on the road first thing in the morning. With that said, they borrowed a couple of DVDs, and headed out to the trailer.
At 9 am, they were still there. At noon they were still there. At 3 in the afternoon they were still there. When I came home at almost 7 they were still there. My wife had graciously fed them 2 more times while they just sort of hung out on our property. It turned out their total collection of dogs numbered 7 and they had no place to go after they left us. But my wife had endured a disruption of her life all day long while she waited on these people. It was revealed during the course of her day that this couple weren’t married, that they were family of some sort, although I am certain she referred to him as her husband at least 2 times. My lovely bride had also endured criticism and opinions on almost every aspect of her daily routine, particularly in how we took care of our animals. The lady took to ordering my children around when my wife wasn’t there. Through it all my wife was the very picture of niceness and graciousness. She fed them and cleaned up after them while teaching school and tending to her myriad daily duties. I cannot say enough nice things about how she handled it.
By the time I got home, it was past time to deal with this. I told them that we would be leaving for the evening, and it would probably best if they hit the road. They seemed sort of surprised and slowly gathered their things eventually disappearing down the dirt road in their creaky old trailer. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they show back up one day.
The lesson from all this is that, really at the end of the day, as awkward as it was, we got a chance to show some kindness to some odd people. Oh, and I was told by my wife that this will never happen again.