Miracle Moments Miracle Moments Of Personal Growth
Christmas Eve Birthday  

T WAS GETTING LATE IN THE AFTERNOON on Christmas Eve. I had the day off from my regular nursing duties in First Aid at the Houston Space Center, but still was in my usual big rush to finish last-minute details before Midnight Mass. One of the things I had to do was drop off the unclaimed lost-and-found items the Space Center donates to my church’s thrift shop every month.

The thrift shop was closed up tight for the holidays, but I had a key to open up the building. All I planned to do was run in, place the clothing in the back room, and be on my way. As I unlocked the door, I noticed several brown bags on the front steps of the building, filled with what appeared to be groceries. I scooped them up, hardly looking inside, and stuffed them in the shop’s old refrigerator. Someone was always getting us mixed up with Interfaith and dropping off food instead of clothing and household items.

PullquoteIn my haste, I had forgotten to lock the door behind me as I entered the shop, and when I saw an old, rusted-out Mercury pull up to the curb in front, I felt a flicker of fear. The shop was not in the best part of town, and all of my family’s warnings not to “go to that place by yourself” came rushing up.

By this time, what appeared to be a rag-tag little family—mother, father, and three small children—were coming through the unlocked door. They all looked rumpled, tired, and none too clean. The man walked right up to me and asked if they might look around a bit, as it was their youngest daughter’s birthday and they wanted to find a gift. He went on to explain they were missionaries, on their way from Wisconsin to Mexico at their own expense. As I listened to this man’s story, and looked at the family, my usual cynicism vanished, and I felt complete trust and calm.

The little girl, Maty, was six years old. She told me they were going to stop at a roadside park and have a wonderful party on their way to Mexico. “My Daddy says that maybe when we get to our church in Mexico, I can have my birthday cake then.”

Needless to say, I loaded every nook and cranny of that old car with whatever would fit. As they were leaving, I remembered the bags I had put in the refrigerator.

“ Wait a minute,” I yelled. “Take this stuff, too. I don’t know what all is in here, but let’s see if there is anything you can use.” And I began emptying the groceries onto the counter. In one bag were the usual dried beans, canned pumpkin, and sardines. Expecting the same in the second bag, I started pulling items out. The first can was strawberry frosting. Then came a box of colored candles, next a bag of balloons, and finally, a two-layer, ready-made cake.

The tears were streaming down my face. The little girl was jumping up and down, La.ughing, and saying, “Look Mama, look Daddy! It’s my birthday cake!” The man just smiled, and thanked me quietly. As he walked to the door to leave with his family, he turned and said very gently, “God bless you.”

I replied, just as gently, “He already has.”

Jan Akin, LVN, BS
Community Outreach coordinator
CHRISTUS St. John Hospital
Nassau Bay, Texas