This is a true story about a man whose wife who buys a motor home without telling him and how he is drawn into a motor homing adventure, that forces him to overcome one challenge after another. Each challenge alone should have ended the journey only he continues to persevere with the help of a series of almost unbelievable random acts of kindness and generosity from strangers until at last he is confronted with what for him is the undisputable truth, that God is real!
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Almost thirty years ago, I found God. He had been right there the whole time but until that day, I had been blind to his presence. I thought of myself as a strong man, a self reliant man. I had a solid belief that I alone, was responsible for myself and my family. I believed praying to God was a crutch that only the weak minded needed. Praying to God was a way for those who lacked inner strength and fortitude, to blame their troubles on someone or something else. My mind was changed unexpectedly by an old motor home as I learned the lesson that God truly does work in mysterious ways!
This is a true story in which only the names have been changed to protect the individual’s privacy. And only minor literary license has been applied to help make the story readable. This is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God!
The Motor Home!
God Does Work in Mysterious Ways
When we reached Crestline, Ohio, we still had three quarters of a tank of gas, so we planned to drive right thru town to I-77. But while we were waiting for a traffic light to change, at the main intersection, in the center of town, on the main thoroughfare, the motor home stalled again.
Traffic instantly began backing up in all directions as Route 30 is the main east/west truck route thru Ohio other than the turnpike, interstate I-80. I tried everything I could think of to get the motor home running again but had no luck. After fifteen minutes, I had the family stand on the curb because I was afraid that the motor home would get hit by the traffic squeezing by in the growing darkness and I felt better knowing they wouldn’t be inside if it did happen. After waiting ten minutes or so more to allow the batteries to build up a charge and the fuel to evaporate, I tried to start it again.
It wouldn’t start! Right then, an older man and his wife walked up and offered to help. He said he knew a bit about engines and he might be able to get it going again, if it was ok with me for him to try. I, of course, said please get the beast started.
After trying to start the motor home himself with no luck, he made several adjustments in the darken space under the hood, while I held the flash light for him. He finally sprayed starter fluid in the carburetor and turned the key. Nothing happened it didn’t even crank or cough, absolutely nothing. The local police arrived about then. One of the officers began directing traffic while the other one approached me. The man who had stopped to help me told me he’d handle it and walked over to officer. After he spoke with him for minute, he came back over to me and said.
”Danny’s” He stated as if he knew the policeman well, “going to call Clint to come pull you out of the intersection, into the parking lot over to the right. My names William and you are?” He asked a he pointed across the intersection to the parking lot in front of boarded up building while offering his hand to shake.
We shook hands and I told him my name, my wife’s name and our girl’s names. He then explained he knew of a place we could get the parts he thought I needed but he would prefer to wait for Clint arrive before we went to get them, because he was very good mechanic and he’d be a better judge what was needed. He then stated that I shouldn’t worry, they’d do all they could to get us on the road again that night.
Clint arrived a few minutes later, driving a big tow truck, the kind normally used for towing broken down tractor trailers. It took only a minute or two to hook us up and tow the motor home into the parking lot, where he went to work trying to determine what the problem was. After several minutes, he asked if we had just bought the coach and when I said we had, he just shook his head like it was a shame or something. He turned and talked in whispers with Louis for a minute, then went to his truck and started to get out some tools.
William turned to me and asked if I would be comfortable with his wife staying with my family, while he and I took a short drive to get some things for Clint. I asked my wife if she was ok with that and she was, so I went with William to a nearby auto parts store.
When we pulled up, I noticed right away that the place was closed. So I asked where another one was thinking he maybe hadn’t realized it was closed. But he said “No, it’ll be just fine.”, then added he had an in with the owner and proceeded to pull a set of keys from his pocket. Once inside William filled two grocery bags with all sorts of spray cleaners, oils, gaskets and several small wiry things that I had no idea what they were. When he’d filled two good size bags with stuff he said, “let’s go” and he headed for the door.
I stopped though after a few steps, asking how much I owed him, because I knew the stuff was expensive and I could only afford so much. His reply startled me. He said I owed him nothing.
My face must have shown that I was shocked because he reassured me it was ok, before he turned for the door once more. I wasn’t use to dealing with people that gave away anything, no matter what, unless they got something out of it, it just wasn’t what I was used to and yet if I heard him correctly, it had happened for a second time on the same day.
So I asked again thinking maybe I had heard him wrong or he was just trying to be too generous. Again he said there was no charge, followed by. “Please don’t offer again, you’ll not get me to take any money.”
As we drove back to the corner I sat quietly pondering my good fortune. Twice in one day, I’d been given free help by strangers. They had incurred expenses helping me and yet they didn’t want me to pay them back. It all felt surreal to me and I wondered if maybe something really bad was about to happen. It was just how I viewed life at that time. When I had too many good things happen, a bad thing always seemed to happen next. It was kind a like the old saying, “I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
I started to worry about how I’d get the family home from here, because I quickly convinced myself that the motor home wouldn’t start again, unless it was after an expensive repair, which we wouldn’t be able to handle and still get home.
I then told William that I didn’t want to offend him but why would he go to this expense for a stranger? I also told him I didn’t think it was right for him to pay for my problems and I should at least pay the wholesale cost for the stuff he was taking, that way his boss wouldn’t be out any inventory. He smiled and said that no, I didn’t offend him and it was ok. It was how he was raised, to help his fellow man and besides, he owned the store and he knew, he didn’t mind.
He then added that he remembered what it was like, to be a young family man and how he had to struggle to keep food on the table and then he insulted me, sort of, though I don’t think he meant it that way, by saying that he would bet that I had less than eight hundred dollars on me and that we’d struggle to get home, if the motor home, couldn’t be fixed.
He was right on both accounts. I had started out with seven hundred sixty dollars and had already spent sixty dollars on gas and snacks. The gas for the trip was going to cost us at least three hundred and fifty dollars and the rest of the money was for the campground costs and food. If we couldn’t drive the motor home, back home, I had no idea how we would get there, especially on a Labor Day weekend. I must have had a strange look on my face as I pondered his statement. Because he stated before I could reply, I didn’t have to say anything, my face said it all and if I really felt the need to pay him back, I was to help someone in need when the opportunity presented itself.
Once back at the motor home, I discovered that Clint, while we were gone, had taken some parts off and had been working on the carburetor the whole time we were gone. Now, I was really nervous. The guy had just field stripped my motor or so it looked like and after William handed him the bags of stuff, he went right back to work. William quickly pulled me several feet away to allow Clint space to work, without me looking over his shoulder.
While we waited, he talked about how he knew most of the people in town, how he’d had been a little league baseball coach at one time and how he and his wife had moved here after he had been in the Korean War. He made the time we had to wait on Clint pass quickly, while keeping my mind off the situation as well.
After an hour, Clint managed to get it the motor home running again and suggested that when I returned home, to get a new carburetor as soon as possible. I then asked him how much I owed and he looked at me as if I’d asked if he was from Mars or something. He just turned away, walked back to his truck and started packing up his tools.
William then shook my hand for the second time and gave me his phone number stating I was to call, from anywhere at anytime, if we needed more help this weekend. When I asked why Clint wouldn’t take any money, William smiled and said he owes a few favors. He then walked away, got in his car with his wife and drove off with Clint right behind him. For the third time in one day, in less than twelve hours, a total stranger had helped me without concern for receiving anything in return. I was so astounded I was unable to comprehend the whole situation.
As we drove off down the road my wife began to share what her and William’s wife had talked about. It turned out that William’s wife’s name was Marie, the same as her late mother’s name had been. She reminded me that William was her father’s name (we called him Bill), which hadn’t occurred to me until just then. She went on to share that their two daughters were named Sara and Candy, just like our daughters. Plus Maries’ sister’s name was Donna, the same as my wife’s and William’s brother was named Cliff, the same as mine. That was just way too weird for words. I was so overwhelmed I drove on without saying a word the rest of the night.