Sunday morning Lil Sista and I headed to the gym bright and early, we were worried about the state of our donations and thought we’d be well served to get all the pallets out of Chris Hill’s unit and on to the pavement in an organized fashion before the trailers showed up. As we were pulling up our jaws dropped to the floor; Tony had apparently thought the same thing and had already gone about getting it done. Praise Jesus because neither one of us can operate a fork lift and we hadn’t a clue how we were going to be able to get all those donations organized anyway, haha!
Red showed up a moment after we did and the four of us sat admiring the many mountains of love as we waited on the trailers to arrive. In a quick moment we were introduced to James South when he happily hopped out of his van. I couldn’t believe anyone would be that excited to tackle this chore but James was a man on a mission. He took the reigns and started formulating a plan while I stared at him like he was Santa Claus. His phone rang mid-directive, it was one of his drivers; apparently the tire had blown on the first of the two trailers and it would no longer be available to help.
“Oh bummer…” I said looking frantically to James the Fix-Everything-Dude who showed up as if he were a Fairy God Mother.
“We can get all this on that other trailer, no problem.” I believed him. If that man told me the sky was green and my hands were carrots I would have believed him, he was just that kind of dude.
We still had Chris Hill’s delivery truck too, so I was starting to breathe at a normal pace again when the second trailer rounded the corner and pulled into the parking lot. Sweet pickles, it was huge and perfect and such a welcomed sight!! Then the two most adorable people hopped out of the truck, Courtney and Aaron. They were a couple and just about the sweetest pair you’d ever meet. Aaron had been a firefighter and was now working with James doing Medical Transport (those transport vehicles were the ones we were using to head to West) and Courtney comes from a family of Firefighters so I was starting to see why these sweet souls had responded to our needs and those of the people of West in the way they did; it’s in their blood to respond to those in need, they don’t know any other way. Thank God for people like James, Aaron and Courtney.
With a bit of direction from James we all started the gigantic task of loading the donations onto the trucks. Courtney hopped her tiny self into one of the trucks and so did Tony while Red, Lindsey, James and I moved stuff out of storage and heaved it up to them. Everyone was working like they were on a mission, a few times I honestly felt like I was just in the way, lol. I’ve never seen people enjoy working as much as we did that morning. Those trucks were loaded in no time flat, every last available spot, even glove compartments, were crammed full.
We all needed gas before the trek started and James noticed a low tire on the trailer he wanted to air up as well so our first stop was the gas station. Red drove the produce express truck with Tony, James drove the big trailer, Courtney and Aaron drove the Van and Lindsey and I turned up Pistol Annies in the Sequoia and off we went! Merrily we caravanned down 35. Red was afraid to go over 55 mph so I was sure to stay behind him; once he had to pass someone who was actually going more slowly than he was and we laughed when we saw his triumphant fist pump from the driver’s window. Red is a hoot.
Around Hillsboro Lil Sista’s phone rang, it was James. He blew a tire.
“Welp, yeah, we are actually passing your tire right now. Ok, we’ll all pull over.” Sure enough we saw a floppy piece of rubber rambling down the freeway .
“Oh no. How on earth are we going to get down there now? We’re already halfway there…we’ll probably have to call for a moving truck but there’s no way we’d get one today and I have no clue who to call in Hillsboro…”
“Chill, there they are. Pull over up here.” Lindsey is the only woman in my life who can tell me exactly what I need to hear without me going First-Born-OCD indignant.
We sat in the car while the men-folk surveyed the damage and made decisions. Red walked by with a doubtful look on his face.
“Well, James said he’s going to try to make it down there on three wheels.” He reported.
“Is that possible? I mean, have you seen anyone do that before while hauling 17 pallets of stuff?” I asked desperately hoping Red would give me a look like ‘of course it’s possible everyone does it all the time’ but he delivered more of a ‘I’ve never seen it before but James seems pretty intent’ look.
“Ok, so we’ll just follow y’all like before.”
We pulled on the highway staring unknowingly at the back end of a huge trailer plugging along with no more than three inches between it and the concrete. I decided right then that I was going to stop doubting. There were so many reasons to think that this trip, this whole giant operation, was going to fail up to this point and it had not. If the whole thing were up to me it probably would have skidded into shame soaked disaster a few days earlier, but thankfully this whole gig was being managed by our God. And if He had come through time and again already, why in the world would I think He’d stop now? So, I watched as James confidently stepped on the gas and lead all of us at 60mph down 35 and started proclaiming the greatness of God.
“How cool is it going to be when he pull into town on three tires? What a victory. What a testament to God.”
Lil Sista looked at me like she wasn’t sure if I was talking to her or not. Along we went, me constantly telling the dashboard how we were going to make it, Lil Sista confirming my proclamations and giggling, Levi gingerly (pun intended) driving the produce truck, Courtney and Aaron in the van keeping an ever watchful eye on James who was triumphantly leading the whole pack on three wheels and a prayer.
We hit West a few moments later and traffic came to a complete stop. We weren’t delivering our supplies to West (they were unable to accept any more donations on site there), we were going on to Waco where there was a storage facility housing all of the donations for West until they need them. I was seriously wishing we could have just stopped in West. But onward we went, squeaking through the traffic on our way to Waco. Thankfully the storage facility was in NORTH Waco :0)
We were coming up on our exit and I could see James’ trailer up ahead begin to veer off….and then keep veering…and then a wee bit of smoke come off one of the tires… (Courtney and Aaron later told us what this looked like up close, they were directly behind him…I was laughing hysterically). Do you remember playing Super Mario Brothers when you were little? And when you needed that chubby Italian to make a huge jump you sort of leaned forward over the controllers, as if you could help him with your own body? I was doing that for this trailer, the whole trip. It was a great ab workout.
God helped us pull up to the storage/distribution center and I don’t know about the other cars but Lil Sista and I were hootin and hollerin. So Excited (and relieved)!!!
We backed up the trailers and joyfully hopped out of our vehicles ready to unload. It became clear, however, in just a few moments that the volunteers at the center were understaffed and pretty confused. Bless their hearts, I’m sure they were big hearted helpers who were just thrown into a situation where the outpouring of support overwhelmed their abilities for a while.
No matter. While Lil Sista and I set about trying to politely ask the authorities about how to go about doing stuff, James, Red, Tony, Aaron and Courtney took another route. Without a word and without a moment’s hesitation Aaron found and commandeered a forklift on his own accord, James and Red began making boxes and moving palettes and Courtney and Tony hopped back up into a truck and started unloading. I looked back at our crew, having never found the right person to talk to about unloading, only to see them halfway done with the job. I swear these are the hardest working people I’ve ever met. They didn’t see obstacles, they simply saw a job that needed to get done and they did it. Simple as that. It was beyond refreshing to see how simple things can really be when you’re not afraid of hard work; and these people were not only unafraid they loved it!
During the hubbub we met Sheena, a volunteer at the center. What a doll this girl was! Lil Sista and I talked with her while we were unloading (cough cough…ok, while everyone else was unloading). Friends of her family were injured when the plant exploded; a couple and their grandson, who was six years old, were looking out the windows in their home watching the fire in the distance as the blast hit. They were all knocked down as the windows shattered and glass shards tore at their skin and eyes. They each suffered loss of vision, at the time the little one could only see shadows. We were reminded of just why God had blessed us in this journey; so we could help people like Sheena’s friends, innocent people who were busy in their innocent lives when something evil and awful took that peace away from them in a violent, unexpected eruption. I just wanted to hug every soul in West that day and tell them how much I love them, and how much God loves them. But, instead of hugs I had palettes of dog food and first aid :0)
With our “Get-R-Done” guys at the helm ignoring all procedure except ‘getting it done’ we were finished unloading in no time flat. I found my energy was best used to cheer and encourage since I was pregnant and my baby brain wouldn’t let me hold a thought long enough to make a dent in anything; I’d start to load a palette and get lost reading the instruction label to a cute new toy we were delivering and…well that’s how that went.
High fives, thank you’s and lots of smiles as we went back to the trucks. The Lord paved the way for us, it was so obvious to me at that point. It was late in the afternoon and we were all about to head back up North when James took another look at his tri-pod trailer. “I don’t feel safe taking this thing back up there on three tires.” He said. He was right, it could have been a disaster if that trailer had decided to finally give up. So we all started to brainstorm on how to find a tire in Waco on a Sunday evening on a moments notice…crickets. Suddenly a young, blonde dude (who’s name was also Aaron) appeared from a puff of smoke and harp music. He knew a guy just down the road who might be able to help us out. Ten minutes later he poofed back up with two tires for James to chose from!! For FREE!! In TEN MINUTES! Aaron (the original Aaron) went and found that forklift again, brought it outside and used it to lift the trailer up so James could change the tire. We were all laughing at how redneck the whole operation was, and yet how precise and perfect it was…coincidence? Nah. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you it was a problem completely solved in under 30 minutes. Now if that’s not the Lord working I don’t know what is!! He hadn’t left us just because we had finished the job, He is always with us trying to give us His best. I felt so blessed, so favored and acutely aware of my undeserved nature and all the doubt I’d had. But that’s grace I suppose.
We parted ways then, with hugs and promises to stay in touch. We hugged Sheena and demanded she keep us updated on her sweet friends and their progress. I kissed Big Red and told him how proud I was to be married to a man who gives his whole self to something and works hard without reserve or complaint. Lil Sista and I hopped in our ride , shut the doors and sighed a big, happy, tired sigh.
“Kolaches.” Lil Sista said in one unmistakable directive.
“Yes.” I answered, and we headed back up to West.
I have seen the Czech Stop flooded with patrons for years, but today was different. Today it seemed we were all there to show our love for the town, and there was a calm camaraderie among those of us in line. On our way back to the car we spotted a large, medical transport trailer parked in the back; I guess we weren’t the only ones who were hankering for that sweet, gooey goodness. :0)
And that’s that. I slept like a rock that night, full of kolaches and the sweet blessings God had poured out on us over the past few days.
Chris Hill, you are a life saver. You showed up when we needed you and selflessly offered everything you had to help us out. We needed storage, you gave us your facility. We needed trucks, you gave us yours. And all the calls you made to make sure we weren’t in need of anything ever…well it makes me so proud to be your friend. If everyone were as selfless as you the world would be a beautiful place. Thank you for being an awesome person.
To James, I want to tell you how much it meant to us that you answered our call for trucks at the last minute and how much we appreciate you being that wonderful kind of person who ‘just gets it done’. You were invaluable and it’s no understatement to say we could not have done any of this without you. I’m going to try to approach more things in my life the way you do, with a no BS attitude and servants heart.
Aaron and Courtney, first of all how cute are y’all? I loved seeing you two together, just a perfect couple. I was so impressed with your willingness to work and get your hands dirty helping people you don’t know. You sacrificed so much time helping people who may never be able to return the favor. You have giant hearts and I understand why you’re in the field you’re in; you serve others. It’s inspiring to me and I’m forever grateful to you both.
Tony, dude you are the busiest and hardest working son-of-a-gun I’ve ever met. Call me if you need a Whataburger, it’s on me.
To my husband and my sister, y’all know how much I love you and how impossible life would be without you both. It takes a lot to handle a crazy person like me and you two are both just crazy enough to do it! I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you.
What I learned from all of this was that God made His people a dependent type on purpose; we are supposed to depend on Him, it’s in our design. I grew in my dependence through this and am comfortable relying on God and His plan and His Miracles. I also saw how perfectly everything goes when we, as God’s children, serve one another. We are not to be dependent on the government to save us, or some large organization to take our responsibilities. The people of West were in need and God’s children responded; faster than lightening they were overwhelmed with support and donations, before FEMA could even pick up the phone. And that’s how it’s supposed to be. We are to depend on God and rely on one another. West taught me that. God Bless West.
** We’re taking donations to help the family who were caught in the blast (mentioned above) pay for medical expenses and ongoing ophthalmic treatment. If you’d like to donate please send gift cards to LoveSent at PO Box 241 Crowley, TX 76036 **