My mother and I took one look at each other and burst into tears, unable to hold back our frustration and exhaustion. Our old Plymouth had chosen to break down for the third time, only fifty miles from our destination. It had been a long, hot trip from Missouri with no air-conditioning in the old car.
Once again, we found ourselves waiting on a mechanic to make the needed repairs. I couldn’t help but notice the exasperation in my mother’s voice as she called the Northern California Mt. Lassen summer church camp office. She had been scheduled to be the featured missionary speaker for that very evening. The kind voice on the other end of the line assured her that she need not worry. They would reschedule her for later in the week, and they would be sending someone to pick us up.
I don’t think my mother was necessarily relieved when our chauffer arrived. He was a big, burly, gruff looking brute of a man, but I instinctively liked his gentle demeanor. My mother on the other hand, was always wary of strangers. I think that comes with being a widow and trying to be protective of your two young children. After a short exchange of greetings, our chauffer announced he would be taking us out to dinner. I had to smile at my mother’s pained look. She was obviously uncomfortable at the idea.
While waiting for our meal at the downtown restaurant, our host began asking many questions about life on the mission field. “What is the one thing you miss the most about Peru?” he asked. Without hesitating, my mother replied, “The oranges. The big, sweet, juicy oranges.”
“If you’ll excuse me for just a moment,” he replied, as he got up and left the table. In a few minutes he returned with a large bag of beautiful California oranges. I was convinced. This was one very nice man. My mother on the other hand, was still leery. After dinner we made our way to the car for our journey to the campgrounds. We still didn’t know much about our chauffer except that he told us he was a truck driver. Mom sat in the front seat with the truck driver and I couldn’t help but notice her very stiff demeanor. After a short drive on the main road our truck driver chauffer decided to take a detour on a side gravel road. I was pretty sure Mom’s heart was racing by now. He told us he wanted to take us on the scenic route. I was pleased, but Mom not so much. We passed by a logging camp of which he seemed very well informed. As he drove through the back woods he pointed out the deer and small wildlife. Clearly, he was enjoying the drive. Then he stopped by an isolated mountain stream and announced that this was a good place to stop for a cool drink. What was Mom thinking, I wondered. Was she envisioning a double homicide about to take place in this remote, secluded area of the forest? When we got back into the car, I noticed the ill-ease begin to drain out of her shoulders. She was beginning to relax. I could see all the pent-up tension, exhaustion, distrust and anxiety leaving her.
Mom was clearly relieved when we arrived at the camp. We went right in to the main office to announce our arrival and see what the plans were. We were sure our chauffer would be waiting for us outside, but he had left. Mom went back in to the office to ask his name. No one seemed to know what his name was or who had sent him. We were at the camp for a week, but never found anyone who knew him. We kept asking about our truck driver friend, but never saw him again. We never had a chance to thank him.
Was our burly truck driver an angel on assignment? We weren’t sure, but always suspected it. One thing we knew, man or angel, he had lifted and refreshed the spirits of two weary worn travelers.
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