I experienced many miracles during those first few years as a homestay mama. One example was the time back in 1994, when I needed to buy groceries to feed my homestay students, but I only had $1.00 left to my name and pay day was still one week away.
It was hard not to worry, but God gave me verses such as Matthew 6:25-27 where Jesus specifically said, "Don’t worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food, drink, or clothes. Doesn’t life consist of more than food and clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not!”
My mom had been a worrier—so I came by it naturally, even though I knew it was wrong—and futile.
Later on in that same chapter (Matthew 6:33-34) Jesus said, “Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day IF you seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” So, in other words if I put God first in my life, he promises to provide for my needs so I can pay my bills and put food on the table?
Yes, literally. And, here’s how it happened.
At that time one of my homestay students was Eiji from Japan.
So Eiji finished the program and his graduation was approaching. Unfortunately he had to return to Japan a few days before the ceremony. Even though he couldn't go, he really wanted me to attend his graduation so I promised him I would go.
However, when that evening arrived, I was so tired after a long day at work that I seriously considered staying home. I kicked off my shoes and settled down in a chair to read the mail. And then my conscience began sparring with me.
Eiji really wanted you to go to his graduation.
Yeah, but he won’t be there so how fun is that?
You told him you’d go.
Yeah, but I won’t know anyone there.
You gave him your promise.
Yeah, but I’m too tired.
But a promise is a promise and you must keep your word!
So I pulled myself out of the chair, took a shower, put on my good suit and got there just as the ceremony was starting.Eiji’s best friend met me at the door.
Eiji had asked him to be my escort for the evening and he had been waiting for me. How thoughtful of Eiji! He’d been a quiet and shy homestay student, but was very kind and respectful. It had been very important to him that I go to his graduation, even though he couldn't. I was glad my conscience had won out and I had gone!
I don’t remember much about the ceremony, but I’ll never forget the banquet afterwards! As we filed into the dining hall, each of the homestay parents were given a ticket for a drawing at the end. Actually they had numerous drawings during the banquet for things like dinner for two at a local restaurant, tickets to a movie or tickets to local tourist venues. Of course I didn’t win any of those prizes, but I hadn't really expected to.
By then we were finishing our dessert and the banquet was nearing the end. I started thinking how I could excuse myself a little early and leave before the rest of the crowd. I hated idling in a long line of cars trying to get out of the crowded parking lot and wanted to avoid it if possible.
But wait! The emcee was calling off new numbers for a final drawing! I followed along as he called out the numbers… on my ticket…ON MY TICKET! I’d won! I had actually won!
But what had I won? I had been planning my escape and had not been paying attention! I jumped out of my seat and quickly made my way up to the stage where the emcee handed me a $100 gift certificate to Nordstroms! I was elated!
But, Nordstroms is a clothing store. What I needed were groceries. I thanked God for my gift certificate, but what I should do with it? Then an idea popped into my head—what if I went to Nordstroms and bought something small and not too expensive. Could I dare hope that they would give me the change in cash? “Oh, Lord,” I prayed.“You know how I need groceries, not clothes, so I’ll just trust you in this situation.”
The next day I made a trip to Nordstroms and walked up and down the aisles looking for something inexpensive that I could use. I was disappointed and walked out of Nordstroms and into the mall. “Oh, Lord,” I prayed. “What shall I do now?"
Then I noticed the small Nordstroms gift shop, right next to the main store. A wonderful aroma of dark chocolate and espresso wafted out the door as I walked in. I chose a small box of chocolates and offered the salesgirl my gift certificate. What would she do? Could I dare hope for cash in return or would she simply write out a new gift certificate for the difference? I held my breath.
She put the gift certificate under the drawer in her till, pulled out some bills and a few coins and counted it out to me. I felt like jumping for joy. I felt like clicking my heels together and letting out a whoop and a holler. Even though I managed to keep my exuberance in check, I walked out the door with the biggest of smiles across my face.
My heart sang. Now I could buy groceries to last until payday!
Thank you, Jesus!
One would think after miracles like this that I would have learned to trust God for all my needs. But I didn’t. And I paid the price for it, too. Not once, but twice!
To be continued.