Tuesday, March 9, 2004

The Wallet

In the summer of 1950 I left for Collegedale, Tennessee, after graduating from Loma Linda School of Nursing. My parents would be in Tennessee for nine months where my father was finishing his Master’s Thesis while teaching at Southern College. He would return to the British West Indies College as President. While living in Collegedale I worked in the Barroness Erlanger Hospital in surgery. During this time several Registered Nurses drove together, enjoying the lovely fall colors and later struggling sometimes through dazzlingly white banks of deep snow. The following story is true. Told long ago by a dark-haired, brown-eyed, nurse in the spring of 1951. This nurse we will name Neosa, she had come from Brazil with her husband and two small boys. She worked so her husband could finish his college degree. We will call him Thomas. Although over forty years have gone by, the story has remained, although the names have not.

The Tennessee springtime had burst forth with lush greenery. Dogwood blooms were emerging from their trees of emerald green. The road from Collegedale seemed shorter on this particular Monday because of the story Neosa was telling us.

Neosa had cashed her check from the hospital on Friday, and the money was safe in her husband’s wallet. They had budgeted every penny and decided that there were a few dollars for them to take the children and enjoy a boat ride in the lake near Collegedale. Neosa’s picnic sandwiches and fruit disappeared as the boys watched other small boats rowing across the lake. At last it was their turn. Thomas rowed, while mother and boys kept up a steady description of all the excitement in this new water world.

All too soon, the time came to return the boat. The boat was ready to tie up at the dock and Thomas reached into his pocket for his wallet to pay the dock man. The oars remained across his lap and he seemed worried as he kept up his search in his one pocket. He placed the oars in the boat, stood up, and carefully felt in all his pockets. “Neosa,” he finally said, “My wallet is not here!” Neosa and the boys all searched every inch of the boat, being careful not to capsize it. At last they all sat down and looked at Thomas, the husband and father who always knew what to do in times of emergencies.

Thomas spoke slowly, “I know the wallet was in my pocket when we got on the row boat.” He began. “Now, the wallet is gone. All the money for our food and expenses for this month are in the wallet. God knows all about our problem. We will ask God to help us.”

The parents and children sat quietly with hands folded and heads bowed. Each, in turn, asked God to help them. The father was the last to pray. “We know, God, that nothing is impossible for You. We are looking to You, knowing You alone can help us.”

Before the prayer was ended, the sound of a passing speedboat could be heard. The waves were coming toward the boat at the dock. The silent family looked over at the passing speedboat and then at the waves circling toward them. To their wonderment, a wave silently approached their little boat. On it’s crest was a familiar object. Thomas reached into the wave and picked up his wallet. The wallet and contents were all dry.

God was answering the prayers of this faithful family, even before they had finished their prayers!

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