We do a lot of traveling by car when we are in the U.S. One time, as we were going across the country with our four boys, we stayed in a hotel near the Kansas/Colorado border. We were tired, so we took it easy the next morning. We had a leisurely breakfast, and we did not leave until about 10:00 AM. After driving for about 45 minutes, our six-year-old son said, “Where’s Teddy?” Uh oh. Teddy was one of those soft, squishy, stuffed bears that just beg to be hugged. Worse yet, Teddy was the favorite thing he had received the previous Christmas (he did not know that Teddy only cost us $5 at a department-store promotion.) Everyone searched the van, but no Teddy was to be found. I looked at our son and said, “Would it be okay if we buy you a new teddy bear in the next town?” In a small, very disappointed voice he said, “Okay.”
At this point, my husband said, “No, it would not be okay.” (What a great dad!) He took the next off-ramp and we drove back to the hotel, where I went in and explained the situation. They gave me the key to our boys’ room, and there was Teddy, wrapped up in the bedspread that had been thrown on the floor. I took him back to the van, where he was greeted with a huge smile and a big hug, and we started back on our journey. Now it was about 11:30.
It was not long before we decided that we needed to stop for lunch. We pulled into a truck stop that we had seen on our first pass going this direction. As we were sitting down at our table, I noticed a man in a Christian T-shirt at another table. Not being very outgoing, I did not say anything, but I made a mental note of it. After lunch, while my husband was in the restroom, I took the boys to the gift shop to have a look around. When we came out, he was in the parking lot talking to the man in the Christian T-shirt. Evidently my husband had been looking for us, and the man volunteered that he had seen us go into the gift shop. One thing led to another, and they struck up a conversation.
The boys and I know that anytime Dad strikes up a conversation with someone in a parking lot, we might as well just wait in the car, so we got into the van and I started the engine so we could have the air conditioner on. A while later (probably only 10-15 minutes, although it seemed longer), my husband came to the van and asked me to get out and meet someone. He introduced me to the man and his wife, who were taking an extended vacation across the country to give them time to seek God’s will for a business venture they were considering. They had come into some money, and they had purposed to give money to people they came across in their travels, as God led them. When they heard our story, the wife looked at the husband and said, “These are some of the people we are looking for.” They handed us a check for $250! They did not want any thanks and they did not want to be put on our mailing list; they just wanted to be obedient to the Spirit of God. They said goodbye, got in their car, and left.
What they did not know was that we had wanted to spend a couple of days in Colorado as ‘tourists’ on this trip, but since that would be personal travel and not ministry-related, we would have had to pay for hotels and meals ourselves, which can add up, with four kids. We really did not have any extra money, and we did not want to put it on our credit card. Now, because of a stranger’s generosity, we were able to have the extra two days of family time in the beautiful Colorado Rockies.
Later, as we got to thinking about it, we realized that we never would have stopped for lunch at that truck stop if our son had not left Teddy in the hotel room. We may not have driven very far that day, but we will always remember it as the day a $5 teddy bear was worth $250!