Finding Harmony in Advent Day 20: The Man Who Saved Christmas
The Man Who Saved Christmas
He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. Luke 2:5
This is a story about a long-awaited Christmas trip by my mother five years ago. Mom loves to travel and will try almost any adventure at least once, i.e., see here.
That year my siblings and I tried to think through options for getting Mom to Florida, to spend the holiday with my brother who lives there. After exploring plane, train, and car (one of us driving her), she decided she would be happy to take “the Amish bus.”
There are at least two Midwestern companies (here) which drive buses to transport Amish (and others) who desire to spend a week or two or several months in the south. The buses stop and pick up passengers in the areas of Indiana and Ohio where there are many Amish families and travel all night.
Mom investigated both companies and figured out which would work best for her schedule; we called to make sure she could be dropped off in north Florida a few hours from my brother’s home. We all felt good about her safety in traveling this way. If the bus got stranded by snow, she would at least be with a group. I never gave a second thought to whether someone should help “put her on” the bus; the pick-up point was a Walmart store less than a mile from her home. She should be able to handle that, right?
None of us had thought either about the fact that a Walmart parking lot can be a huge and very busy place a couple of days before Christmas. There were large trucks in the parking lot, so she didn’t have a clear view. Mom asked permission and proceeded to park near the rear of the store so she wouldn’t take up customer space while she was gone. Then she walked around the parking lot where she thought the bus might appear. It was a zero degree day, and she was dressed more for a bus ride than waiting outside. She went inside to warm up. She asked store personnel, but no one knew anything about where the Amish bus picked up passengers.
The time for her bus to arrive came and went, and she was very anxious. Not having a cell phone, she thought about trying the lobby pay phone to call the bus company. By this time it was 20 minutes past the appointed time, and she grew frantic. What if she had missed the bus? She wouldn’t get to spend Christmas with her son, wife and three great-grandchildren. The adventure started turning sour. Then she saw an Amish-looking man and thought there was a chance he might know specifically where the “Amish bus” usually picked up travelers at Walmart.
The man replied, “Well, they usually park out there” (by the road—not at all in the area where she had been waiting). Then he added, “Just a minute.”
He was the type of Amish who drive cars, of the “Wisler” church. He buzzed out to the bus and spoke to the driver. The driver said they were waiting on a woman with my mom’s name. My mom’s rescuer responded that he knew where she was, and drove back to retrieve mom and her luggage from her car. In the few minutes it took to do all this, she learned the man was the nephew of a man who our family had done business with for many years. His uncle ran a “feed mill” and had been a good friend of my farmer dad who bought feed for his livestock there.
I (and the rest of us) will be forever grateful to this “Good Samaritan” who saved the day—who indeed saved Christmas for my mother that year. Mom felt that God led her to speak to this man. She was embarrassed that the other passengers had to wait so long but appreciated their good-spirited response to the delay. The bus driver soon made up much of the lost time as they headed south.
My learning was to try and think through all eventualities and ask questions like “Where does the bus park?” and “How will you get your luggage from the car to the bus?” My other take-away is I hope I am willing to help out any stranded or forlorn person who I can safely help.
Christmas should be full of Good Samaritan and Welcoming Innkeeper stories.
What is your favorite “Good Samaritan” Christmas story?
And P.S.: Mom is flying today by herself from Indiana to Washington D.C. and we can use your prayers for Good Samaritans and all other holiday travellers!
Also, one of my all-time favorite blog finds was discovering Katie Troyer’s blog featuring intimate and beautiful photographs of Amish enjoying the Pinecraft area of Sarasota, Fla., where many Amish live during the winter (and where I have also spent time.) Katie has many photos of the “Amish bus” arriving and people greeting one another. I know, photographing Amish? Many do not object as long as they do not pose for a photo. Katie is also somewhat of an insider. Do check out her lovely photo essays here.
This story appeared earlier in Mennonite World Review.