Rachel N. Smith wrote:

Driving home from my café job, I passed a little family standing with a sign asking for help. They were stranded travelers from Texas and spoke very little English. The previous day, I had seen them in the same placed and stopped to share my tips on the way home. I pulled in next to the veterinary clinic to share again.

As I walked up, their eyes brightened, three beautiful girls and their parents. The youngest sat on a bucket looking miserably bored. I found out they spoke Italian, and were trying to make their way home after a broken transmission cleaned them out of $2,000. They were trying to get help with gas money and for a hotel that night for a safe place to rest. And, they said, in the two days they stood there, NOBODY had stopped but me! All of a sudden, the shared tips that seemed so much to me seemed paltry.

Being a bit of an introvert, I don’t know many folks in community or church circles that could help. So I went to Fika, for I knew the kindness that Renee extends so generously might help me find help for them. We stood together scratching our heads and not coming up with any solutions right off, but having faith we could help somehow. As I turned to leave, she reached into her till and handed me several bills for them. And we agreed “There’s always prayer!”

After that, I contacted the police for help in connecting to local resources and started checking with local hotels. The first was booked to the gills. When I arrived at the Sisters Inn and Suites, the new managers Gary and Hannah exchanged a glance and immediately decided to help. For a very minimal amount, they said they could help a stranded motorist and found a room for them.

Deputy Brian Morse called then with more leads to follow, and came down to meet the family when I went back to share the great news. When I lead them back to the hotel, Niko (the father) used most of his vocabulary in an unbroken stream of “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

But truly he was speaking language of the heart.

Deputy Morse relayed the message that he and the Central Oregon Police Chaplain would come back in the morning and bring them some help for gas money.

As I drove home, I thought about what this showed me about our community. In context of police protests, Black Lives Matter and animosity towards immigrants and people of color, this is what it looks like. Four beautiful brown women and a good-hearted Italian speaking man found their way home into my heart that day, along with the people who stepped up to help. In these chaotic times, we are each other’s safety. United we live. And there but for the Grace of God go I.