On a snowy Tuesday night in December, my Plymouth friends Kevin Holland, Bob McMakin, Lee Delbos, and I set out to make Christmas deliveries in Brockton. One was especially memorable.
Catrina was not home when we arrived at her building so we gave her a call. A few minutes later she pulled up, backed her SUV behind us, and opened the rear door. We assumed she had groceries to carry in so we offered to lend a hand. Her response was completely unexpected. She sat down on the back of her car and began crying uncontrollably.
“What’s wrong, Catrina?” I asked. Her story was difficult to believe. Catrina and her three sons lived in an apartment with mold, no heat, and water leaking into her bathroom from an upstairs apartment. Even worse, her landlord was evicting her the next day. “I have a new apartment I can move into on Friday. I pleaded with him to let us stay until then but he said, ‘No.'”
“What are you going to do?” I asked. “I don’t know,” she quietly replied. “We have no place to stay these next two nights. It looks like we’ll have to sleep in my car and I don’t want to put my kids through that.”
The four of us felt helpless. At that moment, the best we could offer was a prayer and a promise to call her if we could do anything more. We gave her the Christmas gifts and a $50 gift card for groceries. It brought another round of tears by Catrina followed by genuine hugs for everyone. She put the presents in the back of her SUV and we continued with our route, deeply shaken.
When we got back to the building that night, our staff talked about Catrina’s story. At closing prayer each night, we reflect on the Holy Family. We knew we couldn’t turn away from this modern-day family in need the way others did 2,000 years ago.
I called Catrina to give her the good news: we could put them in a hotel for the two nights. She was so excited, crying and thanking me at the same time, over and over again. In a matter of seconds, she went from desperation to jubilation…from sleeping in a freezing car to a nice room with warm, comfortable beds and even a swimming pool and continental breakfast. Her darkest hour would instead be a bright, joyful memory!
And that’s our mission.
I thanked God for putting us at the right place at the right time to be His instrument to answer Catrina’s prayers.