It was a Sunday in August, and our family thought it would be nice to visit the zoo after church. Only the outside was open due to Covid-19, but we have a membership and thought it would still be a fun and inexpensive way to spend the afternoon as a family. We go to the zoo fairly often, however this wasn’t the most exciting visit we’ve ever had. First, it got much hotter than we thought it was going to and there was no escaping into air conditioning throughout the visit. Second, the kids favorite water misters were turned off, the playgrounds were barricaded, and the animals were lethargic. Lastly, when we returned to our van we found out we had a FLAT TIRE. Ugh. Just what we needed after being out in the heat for a few hours, and kids on the cusp of hangry. (To be fair, we all were on the cusp of hangry…)
So Brad starts getting the necessary tools out to change the flat. “No big deal,” I think. “Brad can change the tire, and we’ll be on our way.” This situation could have totally been worse. This could have happened on the highway, or some other unfortunate scenario…
This ended up being a little bigger deal than anticipated. This was our first flat tire in this van and the “tool” that came in the tow kit to remove the lug nuts, was a piece of junk. That coupled with the lug nuts being over tightened by the last mechanic who rotated our tires, frustration and loss of patience quickly set in.
The girls were getting antsy in the van, and I was trying to keep them under control so tension wasn’t elevated more. I asked them to both sit quietly and say a prayer that Dad can get the tire changed. (We can always be teaching lessons to our children in every situation, right?) Within five minutes, a big black SUV pulls up and a couple jump out asking if we need help.
Wow God, that was fast!
Brad explains the situation, and this helpful man gives the stripped out lug wrench a try too. He agreed, it was a cheap tool and proceeds to dig through his trunk full of tools for an impact and socket. Woohoo…problem solved! We’ll be on the road in a jiffy.
Nope. Unfortunately he didn’t have the right size socket for our lug nuts. Rats.
The guy felt bad that he couldn’t help. We thanked him for his efforts anyway, and they proceeded on their way.
Back to square one.
With Brad still attempting to loosen the lug nuts with a stripped tool, Grace says to me, “Mom, it didn’t work.” To which I replied, “You know what girls? Give it another try. Pray again that Dad will be able to get this tire changed.”
With things looking bleak, I finally told Brad I’ll call our insurance and have someone sent out to help us. The wait was over an hour for someone to arrive so I decided to take the girls for a little walk back towards the zoo. With tired legs, we found ourselves on a bench wasting time.
About 20 minutes later Brad texts me to come back. Assuming the roadside assistance person arrived early, we walk back towards the van. To my surprise THE BLACK SUV CAME BACK! (Answered prayer…twice?)
After Chris and his wife (the helpful couple) left, they decided to stop at a nearby auto parts store, bought us a new tire iron, the right size socket, and DROVE BACK TO THE ZOO to help us! WHAT!!? To top it off, Chris insisted that we keep the tire iron as a gift so we are prepared if this ever happens again.
Wow. What an amazingly nice couple.
They had two little kids in their vehicle…It was around dinner time…They lived in Michigan City, IN (1.5 hours away). But they allowed themselves to be completely inconvenienced to help us out. Talking briefly with Chris, he told us he is a diesel mechanic and races cars. (Explains why his trunk was full of tools!) Chris was a man who saw a need that he could fix using his gifts and talents. And he acted on it.
What a lesson to be learned right here. I had to ask myself, would we have done the same? We would have stopped to help someone with car trouble. But would we have gone out of the way as much as they had? If I’m being honest, I probably would have said, “Welp, we tried!” and drove our hangry family home before complete meltdown occurred…
How often do we let ourselves be inconvenienced to help someone else? Not just helping someone if we have a few spare minutes, and it fits into our schedule…I mean help someone knowing it’ll cost us in some capacity. What would this world look like if we ALL acted like Chris? I bet it would be full of so much more happiness and love. The whole ride home I kept thinking about what just happened in the parking lot. So many lessons learned in that extra, unexpected hour spent at the zoo.
–My kids learned that prayer is powerful. This led to an amazingly wonderful conversation on the way home.
–Brad and I learned that we need to be on the lookout for ways that we can use our gifts and talents to help others in need. How can we bless others more? What are our talents and how can we use them to further God’s kingdom? How can we be better about allowing ourselves to be inconvenienced? We never know when WE will be someone else’s answer to prayer.
–Our whole family learned that our first response to any problem should ALWAYS be prayer. The girls were giddy with joy when they made the connection that we prayed, and someone came to try and help. So we prayed again, and that person came BACK and DID help. What a cool thing for the girls to experience first hand.
–We were also once again reminded that there is always some good that comes from the bad. I encourage you to make it a habit to look for it. The flat tire was a hassle. But the lessons learned, and the fact that I get to share this story with you, makes it more than worth while.
Looking back, I wish I would have talked with Chris and his wife more, and I wish I would have gotten a picture with this sweet couple to share with you. Chris had no idea that he was the answer to our prayers. (I wish I would have told him.) He had no idea that Brad has brain cancer and sudden high stress can sometimes trigger a headache (which thankfully was avoided). He had no idea that we blog and that this story would be shared, hopefully influencing a lot of people in a positive way. What a ripple effect one act of kindness can cause!
As they were about to leave, I again thanked Chris for his kindness, and the unexpected gift. You want to know what his response was? “Well, things like this always have a way of coming back around. You gotta do what you can.”
So hats off to Chris, the diesel mechanic from Michigan City, IN. Thank you to his wife who was willing to go the extra mile with kids in tow. Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus. Thank you for allowing you and your family to be inconvenieced for our benefit. Thank you for showing us there are still good people in the world, and the reminder to be more like you. Thank you for seeing a need, and fulfilling it. And thank you for the new tire iron, it’s still in my trunk, ready to go if needed. If you ever happen to come across this blog post, please reach out to us! We’d love to take you and your lovely wife out to dinner.
Be strong, courageous, and inconvenienced,