Monday, April 26, 2010

a tender mercy in six-minutes (and five shopping carts), and no less...

I have about 15 grocery bags sitting on my kitchen counter and floor competing for my attention but this post simply could not wait. I had to document, to share, my sweet little experience at the store just now.
I was all done--my cart was overflowing, both with children and food and other products from Target's well-stocked shelves. I had one last item to grab, a rotisserie chicken from the deli. I won't go as far as to say I was angry or that it ruined my day, but I cannot deny I was annoyed that after 75 minutes of shopping with two little boys, I was going to have to wait another SIX MINUTES for the deli's next batch of chicken to be done cooking. SIX MINUTES, which any young mother knows can seem like an eternity! All the items from my list had been found and collected, so there was nothing to do but wait. How bad did I really want this chicken? Hmmm...mentally I weighed my options: wait six minutes for tonight's dinner or save myself six minutes NOW and pay for it by cooking 20 minutes tonight. Mental calculation DONE: waiting it was. Thankfully my boys continued being very well-behaved and I was surprised how quickly the six minutes passed. Yes, I was tired of being there and sooo ready for it to be over, but any annoyance I'd had was now gone as I made my way to the check-out stand.
Two registers were open: 5 and 6. Pulling into 5 I noticed there was only one customer in front of me, a man who looked to be in his mid-to-late 50's. Now everyone knows having just one customer in front of you is definitely not that bad. However, this man had four (YES, FOUR!) very full carts trailing behind him. Puzzled and assuming not all those carts could belong to him, I asked the Target employee if someone else had left one or two of the carts there while they ran to get something they forgot. The man answered for her saying, "No these are all mine and my wife is coming with a fifth." He gave his most apologetic smile as he contined, "I'm afraid we're going to be a while." Grateful for the warning, but still astonished (and curious!) at the humongous purchase he was making, I headed into Checkout 6, where a woman twice my age and yet three times as skinny in her yoga pants bought a small collection of items - Protein Bars, Protein Shakes, and bottled water. (Yeah...give me my size 16 pajama pants and my Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, I say...)
Anyway, by the time it was my turn to unload the cart, the wife of Mr. Checkout 5 had come with the fifth cart and they were about half-way through scanning it all. I could hear a Target supervisor calling for employees to assist this couple with their items to the car. I found that I could not take my eyes off them! They were buying everything under the sun, it seemed: canned food, blankets, first-aid items, pantry food, batteries, tupperware, bedsheets, you name it. And then I heard it. The question every person within earshot was dying to have answered. The supervisor asked about this unusual amount of merchandise. Their answer? The wife timidly replied they were shipping everything to Africa, where they were soon to become the mission presidents in the Congo area. She explained it is a brand new mission and they are the ones to get it started. Of course her answer was interesting enough, but the look on her face spoke volumes. In one look she translated several emotions, such as nervousness, humility, and maybe even a little bit of insecurity. But above it all, she was brilliant with the look of FAITH. I mean, you'd have to have faith to do leave everything (everyone) behind and do something like that! I stood there paying for my (one) cart of groceries, in awe of these two servants. Here they are, spending $1692 (yes, I absolutely could not resist peeking at the total on the register screen as I walked by) and basically turning their lives upside down to travel across the world to a vulnerable area to begin the Lord's work. I wondered what their lives had been like since they'd gotten the call--tying up loose ends...either selling their home or finding someone to maintain it, squeezing in as much time with their children and grandchildren as possible, doing research on the internet and making list after list of the necessary preparations.
My eyes grew hot with tears and it took all I had not to completely succumb to the emotions in the burning of my chest. How grateful I was that I had been there to witness this scene. And had I been to the register 6 minutes earlier? I'm confident there is a high possibility I would have missed it. The Lord knew I needed that today. He knew I needed to see the sweet sacrifices others make to not only live the gospel but to share it with others. I couldn't get home fast enough to journal that moment--I was afraid somehow those feelings would leave me and I'd forget all about it. But as I write, it's apparent that I will keep this tender mercy with me for quite some time. Probably even beyond dinner tonight at 6:00 when we all sit down for our Rotisserie Chicken. And I'm also betting that at 6:00 p.m., somewhere in Davis County, is a middle-aged couple who will still be unloading their Target bags of groceries.
Hope Sig1


Annie said...

So amazing! So glad you shared!

Tif said...

Wow! What a wonderful story. Thank you so much for sharing. So often we go through the grocery line and never know who is in front or behind us. I'm sure we are surrounded by amazing people everyday and don't realize it. It's nice to have a peak into the lives of others once in awhile and especially when they are so inspiring.

Emily said...

Oh Hope, I sooo needed this today! Sometimes it's amazing how quickly our perspective on life can be changed! So today as I sit overwhelmed with my little "to do" list, I will count my blessings twice! Thanks for sharing!

M&C said...

I am learning to "Be Still and Know that I (he) is God". Thanks for sharing that. Love ya


Wow, thanks for sharing that with me. I am all teary eyed too now!

Heather said...

What an amazing level of faith! I can only imagine the journey they have ahead of them. Thanks for sharing, you've lifted everyone who's read it.

Stacy said...

What a great post. It's amazing the things we can learn from others, and the feelings we can get when the spirit is around. Thanks for sharing this.

Wendy Kremin said...

Neat. Thanks for sharing.

"The democracy will cease to exist when you TAKE AWAY from those who are willing to work AND GIVE to those who would not."

Thomas Jefferson