Last month I was talking with a man in our program that needed a new pair of boots for the winter. I could see that the soles on his well-worn boots were separated. I asked him if he would let us get him a new pair to keep his feet dry.
He glanced down at his feet and said, "No Ms. Tina, these are good boots and I think I can get one more winter out of them."
About two weeks later, this man showed up to visit Ethan, our director of grant funding, and me at our offices in the Watauga Housing & Outreach Center, as he often does. He was grinning ear to ear and carrying a boot box and a bag from Tractor Supply.
He said someone had taken him to the store and bought him some 'good things" for winter. He didn't call their name, he said they must have been a missionary and that he intended to pay it forward when he was back on his feet again. He was like a little kid, opening the shoe box and trying on his new boots. He stomped around the lobby with a smile and said, "It'll take a while to break them in, but these will do just fine."
He pulled the flannel shirts and a new pair of pants out of the bag in my doorway and pointed out that these were the good kind, heavyweight and perfect for winter. I wish I had a picture of the smile on his face, but I carried this moment with me as the holiday season approached. He said it was a missionary that brought him to the store and let him pick out a few 'good things.' Maybe a Missionary-Angel... who knows? Regardless, someone noticed and responded, making sure that he had the best.
But, the story does not end here.
I received a call last week, just as we were collecting, gathering and wrapping Christmas gifts for the many people staying with us, that local outdoor outfitter Footsloggers would like to donate 175 pair of brand-name, high quality boots and shoes for our residents.
Just like that first pair of boots, someone responded and gave the very best so that everyone could have new shoes this Christmas.
Missionary-Angel? Loaves and Fishes? I'll let you decide but it sure does seem like the real meaning of this holiday season took place right inside our doors.
Tina B. Krause