A strange thing happened to me last week, as I traveled between my home in the Duckabush and my office in Seattle.
I brought my camera along that day, and I decided to take a few pictures, including one of the commuters as they exited the ferry terminal, shown below.
I noticed a Hispanic woman traveling with a small girl … I remember wondering if she had chosen a day-care facility in Seattle so that she and her daughter could spend the commute together. By chance, I captured the daughter in the bottom right corner of the picture I took of the commuting horde.
That evening, as I boarded the homeward ferry, I noticed the unusual duo again. I was intrigued by the appearance of the little girl, who reminded me of my own little sister, adopted from an orphanage in Vietnam some 32 years ago.
I left the ferry and boarded the bus, taking a seat in the back. As always, I checked with the driver to ensure I had selected the correct #90 bus (there are three, and they vary their destinations and departure times from hour to hour in maddening confusion). Toward the end of the ride, I moved forward to the seats usually reserved for the elderly and handicapped … it is always a good idea to remind the driver that I am still there, since my stop is the last on the line.
I noticed the woman and her daughter still on the bus, about the same time as the driver. He asked her where she was going.
“I need to connect with the bus to Port Townsend,” she told him in a thick Central American accent.
“Oh,” he answered. “You wanted the 90 express bus that connects with Jefferson Transit.” After a little more discussion they established that the bus to Port Townsend had already left, and that it was the last bus of the evening heading in that direction. It was already late, and I was very tired. Port Townsend, while in the same general direction as my destination, would take me at least 30 minutes out of my path each way. I struggled with my conscience and lost.
“Where, exactly, are you going?” I asked her.
It transpired that she was going to Port Hadlock … a mere 15 minutes off my usual route. Since I had already lost a fight with my conscience over losing an hour, I knew better than to attempt a “best 2 out of 3″ for a mere half-hour. I presented some identification to her and to the bus driver, leaving a witness behind in case I turned out to be an axe murderer or something sinister.
It turned out that she had been closing up an apartment in Bellevue (cleaning & such); she and her husband & daughter were moving to Port Hadlock to help a relative run a new Mexican Restaurant there. Her daughter had wet through her clothes (leaving a large wet mark on her mother’s lap) and had to be changed in the parking lot beside my car. From all accounts, this was icing on the cake of a horrible day.
We began somehow to talk about spiritual things … she was raised in an unlikely cross between a Baptist and a Jehovah’s Witness, adding Pentacostalism to the mix as an adult. I had a chance to tell her a little about what Jesus meant to me and how He had made a difference in my life. I was glad that I had offered to take her home … I don’t think she had any transportation alternatives and would likely have ended up paying $40 for a cab.
So was it a coincidence that I saw her in the morning, out of all those people? I think probably not. Sometimes an opportunity to help comes along so quickly that I miss it out of indecision. I think that God knew I would need some time for my compassion to build and so he planted this lady in my path in the morning, for His purposes. Funny to think of God planning this whole event 8 hours before she took the wrong bus. You or I, if we were God, would probably just take the simplest approach of ensuring that she chose the correct bus … but God doesn’t do things the way we expect. And maybe the point was not only helping her, but God changing me.