I’m deviating from my usual hospice patient story this week to share a personal one. The year was 1975 and I was 21 years old when I landed in Mexico City. I had forty dollars to my name and no round trip ticket. I’d already planned on hitchhiking the three thousand miles back home when the winter quarter was over. Just the next big adventure! Okay, I admit I might have been just a little anxious.
Tom and I were enrolled, along with a group of other Ohio University students, in an extension program at the University of Veracruz in Xalapa. Our group was parceled out to various homes and Tom and I were paired up as roommates. Man, the stories I could tell- hitchhiking in Mexico, sleeping on Caleta Beach in Acapulco and being attacked by wild dogs in the middle of the night, Playa Del Sol with it’s famous breathtaking sunsets, doing the Mexican hat dance with the elderly Mexican woman at the open air cantina, and the numerous times that the Mexican Police dumped my burlap sack of personal belongings onto the street and shoved me up against their blue and white Volkswagen Beetles to frisk me for drugs.
But there’s one story in particular that I want to share with you. When Tom and I boarded the bus for the 65 mile trip down the mountains to the Gulf Coast city of Veracruz, there was standing room only. Local villagers held baskets of produce, eggs and live chickens. The bus emptied with each subsequent stop and Tom and I were finally able to take a seat. I can still see the seat in my mind’s eye, in the middle of the bus, on the left side looking forward, Tom in the window seat and me in the aisle seat.
We were only a few minutes from our destination when something just told me, “Get up and move back one seat, next to the window.” But I said to my self, “That’s crazy! We’ll be in Veracruz in just a few minutes.” So I remained seated. Then a couple of minutes later something just told me again, “Get up and move next to the window.” and again I said to myself, “Tom will think I’m crazy. That doesn’t make sense.” But when it came to me the third time I thought, “What the heck” and I got up and moved.
About five minutes later, as I sat with my head leaning against the window gazing down the road, I noticed a small dump truck in the distance driving towards us. There were three Mexican men standing in the dump leaning on the top of the truck cab. As they neared the bus, one of the men disappeared and then reappeared with a large rock in his hand. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing when he threw the stone at the bus shattering the front windshield. The stone came through with so much velocity that it exited out the rear window. And on the way through, it ripped the stuffing out of the headrest of the seat where I’d been sitting. The bus careened but the driver was finally able to get it under control. With blood splattered on his face and shirt he whipped the bus around, chased down the dump truck and forced it off the road. He escorted the truck to the police station in Veracruz where he turned them in. I’m telling you, neither John Wayne nor Clint Eastwood had anything on that guy. He was a real macho man.
I shudder to think of what would have happened to me if I hadn’t gotten up and moved that day. Holy Spirit, I owe you my life. I believe we hear what we’re listening for, we find what we’re looking for, and we develop an ear for and sensitivity to, that which we value and identify with. I believe that God wants to speak to us much more then we are wanting to listen. So the next time “something” just tells you, you might want to listen up, for your welfare, as well as that of your family, may depend upon it.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29: 11-13)
Loren Hardin is a social worker with Southern Ohio Medical Center – Hospice and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 740-356-2525.