This morning, like every morning, I drove Amaya and Gabi to their bus stop, which is about a quarter mile away.
As we were driving through the intersection of 120 and Cty. Rd. E, we noticed a kid sitting on a bus bench without a jacket on – just wearing a t-shirt. It was 32° outside.
“I can’t stand boys that think it’s cool walk around wearing t-shirts when it’s cold out. Like, they don’t wear jackets because its not cool” says the 14 year old who, while she is wearing long sleeves, did not have her jacket on because she forgot it at school.
“Maybe he doesn’t have a jacket,” I said. “Wouldn’t that be sad?”
After the girls caught their bus, I drove back the way I came and saw he was still there.
“Whenever you saw me cold and without a jacket…”
I drove home, ran down to the basement and found an old jacket that belonged to Shawn.
I drove back to where the young boy was, pulled over and asked him if he needed a jacket. He did. I also gave him my hat.
“We missed the bus to school” he said.
“Me and my little brother.” His little brother was standing down at the street corner.
“Do you want a ride?”
Ok… so I’m officially that creepy stranger that just lured 2 little kids into my car with a jacket. I decided not stop back at home to grab my purse.
Turns out school is in St. Paul. No problem. I don’t have any meetings today until lunchtime.
The boys are 13 and 12, 8th and 6th grade. They are 2 of 5 children who live with their mom in the townhomes not far from where we live. Their mom works as a PCA. She leaves for work before 4am everyday, so it’s up to the kids to get up and out the door every morning. The 13 year old has a jacket, he just forgot it as he rushed out the door. Typical teen.
They’re GREAT kids. Polite and personable. They knew how to carry a good conversation. I really liked them. They told me they’re from Chicago.
“I’m going to Chicago next week,” I said.
“To see family?”
“No. Well, my work family.”
I asked the youngest what his name meant, and with pride and joy, he stated that he was from Nigeria. His brother quickly corrected that neither they nor their parents were born there.
“I was in Africa recently.”
“With your family?”
“No. Well, with my work family.”
We talked about my work. They had a lot of questions about Africa.
We talked about their school. I’m still not quite sure why they’re going to an inner city school, 20 miles away. But one likes gym and math, the other likes gym and art.
“What do you like about gym?”
“DODGEBALL” they said in unison.
They both want to serve in the army when they grow up, because “I want to help people,” said the eldest.
They hadn’t eaten breakfast yet, and I didn’t have my purse, remember?
Oh well. Good thing I’ve gotten good at asking people for stuff. I pulled over to a Dunn Bros. on Summit, walked in in my pajamas (seriously, sweats and my r2d2 night shirt hanging below my jacket) and flip flops – I looked a mess – and asked for 2 donuts and 2 small cups of coffee (the 12 year old LOVES coffee). I told them I was good for it and I’d be back later to pay for it. Thankfully, they willingly obliged.
With coffee and donuts in hand, I dropped them off at school. But I made sure to send them each friend requests on Facebook before they left.
When I got home, I texted Amaya to tell her about the boy without the jacket.
She said, “you are so inspiring. you are the most genuine person I know.”
LET ME BE PERFECTLY CLEAR. I did not tell her this story to elicit any sort of praise. I’m not sharing it now to make people think I’m awesome. I’m not. I’m really not all that kind or compassionate. To be honest, I have a pretty hard heart – but, that’s why I need Jesus. I was just selfishly hoping to catch a glimpse of him today. Just trying to get close.
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Anything that is good or kind in me, is Him.
I’m also sharing this story – or making a record of it – because I HOPE that one day I can look back and remember the details of the day I met my good friends.