How about Italian?

raking leaves

By Andrew Conrad

Sheryl and I were in language training school in McAllen, Texas.  We were going to school full time, living on missionary support for the first time in our lives, and enjoying the challenges of living by faith and learning Spanish.

Part of the responsibilities of the school involved working for a few hours a week in a chore to help the school.  Since we lived in the smallest (and cheapest) apartment on campus, I was assigned to rake the courtyard that hosted several grapefruit trees.  It was an enjoyable break from the rigors of study.  Since there was no grass in the courtyard, I would rake the leaves that had fallen or been blown onto the courtyard and then make intricate designs in the sandy soil.  The courtyard was surrounded by a fence with a small gate; so my responsibilities ended at the fence, where I would invariably stand by the small gate and admire my work before putting the rake back in the work shed.  On occasion one of the administrators or students would mention how clean the courtyard looked or how pretty the raked design was.

The school we attended had a French chef.  Not just a French-trained chef, but an actual chef from France.  He made some of the greatest smelling food in the world.  However, since we were on a very limited budget, we didn’t eat in the cafeteria where he practiced his art.  We would, however, pass by every day on our way home from class and smell his delicacies.  One day we heard that the French chef had made lasagna.  Lasagna happens to be Sheryl’s absolute favorite dish, and the aroma coming from the cafeteria that day was heavenly!

“Andrew… Lasagna!!  Why don’t we buy lasagna today?”

I was tempted: delicious food, French chef, Sheryl’s favorite meal…

“Sheryl, Honey, listen… We have ten dollars for food for the week.  You’re pregnant, and we have to buy milk and other groceries too.  I’m sorry.  If we buy lasagna today, we won’t have milk for the rest of the week… and you’re pregnant.  I’m sorry, but we just can’t do it.”

Sheryl walked home somewhat sad and started making a chicken meal.  We had lots of chicken.  It cost twenty-nine cents a pound and came in frozen ten pound bags.  We had to use a hammer to break it apart.   I walked over to the shed, got my rake and started doing my regular chore.  I was raking a design in the sand and finishing up when a man approached me.  He looked at me in a strange way, and I decided to look back in a strange way too.

He said, “Can you stay right here for a minute?”

I agreed.  After all, looking at someone in a strange way doesn’t necessarily constitute a viable threat, right?

A minute or two later, he came back with a box which he placed on a picnic table that was located right outside the courtyard.  He motioned me over, so I stepped out of the courtyard through the gate, and we introduced ourselves.  He started telling me his story.

“Listen, I was driving in town, and I felt like God wanted me to go to the Pizza Hut, so I did.  I walked into the store and felt like I should buy the largest pizza they had with everything on it to go, so I did.  Then I felt like God wanted me to drive here — to the language school, so I did.  Then I felt something very strange.  I felt like God wanted me to give the pizza to the young man standing by the gate.  This is the only gate on campus, and you are the only young man standing next to it… so here is your pizza.”

I was shocked!  I told him how my wife had wanted to eat lasagna that day, but we couldn’t afford it.  “I guess a large pizza with everything on it is the next best thing!” I said with a big smile.

I called Sheryl out and told her the story.  She could hardly believe it.  We thanked the man and then sat down at the picnic table and ate pizza amid tears of joy.  God had showed us how he knows every desire our hearts and loves us so much.

Later that week the Lord gave us another unbelievable surprise.  We were told that an anonymous donor had decided to pay for us to eat lunch every day at the cafeteria where the French chef practiced his art.  We serve an amazing God!

Take no thought of what you shall eat, or drink, or wear.  Consider the birds of the air: they don’t plant, harvest, or store in barns, but your Heavenly Father feeds them.  Aren’t you worth much more than birds are?

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