While visiting Petersen Adventist School this past December I noticed the students had written their top five goals for the 2021-2022 school year, Written under the direction of Tiffany Meulemans, 5th-8th grade teacher, the goals were placed on a bulletin board in the classroom as a daily reminder for students. The students had put a lot of thought into writing their 2021-2022 school goals. They had included such things as being more kind to others, getting more sleep, and listening more in class. Wonderful goals!
As January is approaching, I am thinking about my goals for 2022. Family time is high on my list… My son is a sophomore in academy and I know that time is short before he will be going away to college, so I treasure the time with him and the rest of my family. One goal is how to best utilize the time I have with my family. Our weeks get busy with work and school, and it seems like there is no extra time. When covid first started, and we were quarantined at home, our family started playing a board game every night after supper. t became the highlight of my day; something I looked forward to with all the laughs and conversation around the table. Now that life is back to “normal,” game night once a week might be possible.
I encourage your family to design a monthly plan of activities for the whole family and stick to the plan. Let us make 2022 a year to spend quality time with family. Last year our family’s goal was to read the Bible through in a year. During January, we were on target, but we soon realized that if we were to have meaningful discussions and not rush through the readings, it would be impossible to finish the entire Bible in one year. Our goal this year is to have meaningful worships and continue our journey through the Bible even though it may take us many years to complete. What is your goal for family worship this year?
My final goal it to reach out to my neighbors and community more this year. Around Thanksgiving, a neighbor stopped by to give us a fresh baked loaf of bread. During our visit, we both mentioned that it would be nice to have a block party in the summer so we could get to know our neighbors better. What can I do to get to know my neighbors better? What can I do to help in my community and make a difference?
My friend, David Rawls, sent me a beautiful story about how God put him in the right place at the right time to help a man in need. I’ve shared his story below. David Rawls has many inspirational stories of how God has used him to help others.
I hope to be ready to help others in 2022 and not miss the opportunities that are placed in my path!
Sue Nelson, Education Superintendent
Christmas 1980, by David Rawls, Sturgeon Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church
The year was 1980 and the date was December 22. I had been working on a pipeline construction project in Vernal, Utah, and had not seen my family in the past 14 weeks. As a pipeline welder, my work would often take me away from home for months on end during the construction season. This project was finally complete and I could go home. Besides being a bit weary and tired, home sick would best describe my mental condition.
I awoke that morning, determined to drive straight through, even if it took two full days. My best hopes were that I might make it home before Christmas, take the family shopping ,and get set for the holiday season. Home at that time was none other than Escanaba in the central upper peninsula of Michigan. It was a long way away from the mountains in Vernal, Utah. My welding rig, truck, and trailer all hooked together was approximately 47 feet long. The total weight of everything was something near 20,000 lbs. My task was to maneuver this contraption onto the highway through the mountains, on to the freeways, through numerous cities, small towns and back roads that were between me and my loved ones.
That morning the sun was shining and all looked bright ahead. Although I had slept for eight hours or so the night before leaving, I still felt a little fatigue and stressed from a long project. The weather had been extremely cold that past week and the temperature had reached down to -10 degrees at times. It had been all I could do to stay warm and keep things from freezing up in my RV trailer. The local hardware store was depleted (by me) of heat tape and electric heaters when I left their facility a couple of weeks before.
This day, I was most thankful for sunshine and clear weather, although it was still very cold. After driving hard all day long through some less than favorable roads and mountain country, I reached the freeway and was finally ready to settle into some easier driving. Along about dark I had gone through Cheyenne, WY. The hunger pains began to slowly move in my stomach. I realized I had not eaten all day. My mind said, perhaps up ahead somewhere there would be an easy access truck stop and some hot food.
Shortly after pulling through some highway weigh scales, I saw a dim looking figure near an overpass as I sailed by. My immediate thought was that it was far too cold for someone to be out there, especially if their not dressed very well. Although I was pretty unwound by now, I hit the brakes and slipped it back up into third gear. A couple hundred yards or so I came to a halt. It seemed like an eternity before this fellow made his way to my vehicle. My first thoughts were, “What have you done? This fellow could be a thief or who knows what, and what if I were robbed?” It was a chance I just had to take. I couldn’t leave him out there in the cold. I unlocked the door, and invited him in. This poor young man looked so cold, weather beaten and hungry. I introduced myself and said it would be nice to have some company to help keep me awake through the long night ahead. Soon I asked where he was going and why he was out in the cold like this. He told a sad story of how he had left home in Des Moines, IA ,and had been out near Seattle for a number of years without any contact with his family. I didn’t ask but it sounded as if it might have been a story like the prodigal son. He had not seen his folks for all that time and they wanted to see their boy badly. In a recent phone conversation he had promised that somehow he would be home for Christmas. As already mentioned, the story was a bit sad and in the dark he couldn’t see I was almost in tears. I assured him that by morning, or sometime in the night I would deliver him pretty close to his home. As a matter of fact, my trip as mapped out would take me right through Des Moines, his home town.
In a few minutes I announced we would soon be stopping at a place to eat. He said, “Look mister, I don’t have any money!” I said, “I didn’t ask you if you had money, I am hungry and if you are too, I’ll pay for your meal.” He smiled and we drove on. Then suddenly I asked, “when was the last time you ate anything?” He thought for a minute or so and said, “I think it was two or three days back, but I found some canned beverages in the ditch and that has helped to keep me from being so hungry.” My heart sank. I lost my appetite right then. As quickly as I had stopped to pick him up, the brakes came on again. He said, “What are you doing?” I then told him I might have something in the trailer to help him get by till we could find something better at a restaurant. I came back from the trailer with a jar of peanut butter, a jar of jelly, a box of graham crackers (the 4 square kind), an unopened quart of milk, a large can of peach slices, and a moon pie . It was all I could find for the moment without digging through the cupboards and fridge anymore. I ask no one to believe the rest of this, and would not, had I not seen it with my own eyes. This skinny fellow ate the can of peaches, the moon pie, 10 large graham cracker-peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and drank the quart of milk. I have never been so amazed or saw one skinny man so hungry. Where was he putting it all? Just being a little humorous, as I am at times, I said, ” Don’t stop on my account, this was all just extra and might have been thrown out anyway!” He promptly made two more peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. I about swallowed my tongue. My appetite was gone for sure.
In a few minutes he went sound asleep. I knew he must have been extremely tired. Earlier he had related to me that he had been sleeping under bridges and over-passes out in the open climate. Just the thought of it made me shiver. Here sat a child of God sleeping, who had not eaten in many days, now full, warm, safe and seemed to be at peace with all his surroundings. For a long time I kept thinking of what would have happened, had I not stopped? Would someone else have picked him up, or would he have died that night out in the cold? The thought continued running through my head that he was some mother’s child, some father’s boy and they loved him so much, and perhaps were praying for his safety and well being.
What a blessing I felt just to know that God somehow used me to bring their boy home safely. After he went to sleep, I reached over and turned the CB radio on and visited with truckers all night so I might stay awake. Just as daylight began to break, I reached over and touched him on the shoulder and said, “Hey partner, your almost home.” He had been sleeping almost 12 hours or so. In a few minutes he showed me which exit to pull over at so he could go his own way, and I did. On his way out of the vehicle I handed him a few dollars and said Merry Christmas.
With in a few minutes I was back up to freeway speeds and headed home. The rest of the trip I couldn’t get this poor fellow off my mind. Why hadn’t I given him some more money? I had several hundred dollars on me and over 7000 in checks in the trailer. In addition to that, I had sent much more home through a bank wire each week. A little more wouldn’t have meant anything to me, but might have for him.
Since then I have learned that I should give when I can. The opportunity to do so isn’t always at hand. The rest of the day was spent behind the wheel weaving in and out of traffic while still thinking about my stranger friend who’s folks were now happy that their boy was finally home. As dark once again came and my trek took me up State Road 35 in northern Michigan, I began to think of how good it will be to arrive home, and see my family once again.
Near 8:00 pm I pulled into the home place and backed the trailer in by the old barn and stepped out to meet the welcome party of my wife and boys. The home fires were burning and everyone rejoiced that we were all together again. We all had many blessings to share, but somehow my story of the stranger I helped, fed, and gave comfort too, overshadowed my Christmas that year. The next day was Christmas Eve. We thanked God for our family, our health, and well being that year.
To this day, I can remember little about that Christmas, except what a blessing it was to be able to share so little with someone who needed it so much. It is truly more blessed to give than to receive. Many years have now passed, but this experience causes me to often remember the words of Jesus when He said in Matthew 25:43-45: “I was a stranger, and ye took Me not in: naked, and ye clothed Me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited Me not. Then shall they also answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we Thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto Thee? Then shall He answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to Me.”
Let us never be found guilty of failing to share when God puts that opportunity right before our very eyes. Could this have been an angel? Might this have been a test? We never know, but how we treat others is how we would treat Jesus!