David - On Mother’s Day

     The following morning David woke up with enthusiasm for the day. He found only half of a piece of soggy toast in a dumpster, but he left it there. Today, eating breakfast didn’t matter. Soon he would have his reward money and he would buy a half-pound cheeseburger and a chocolate malt – maybe French fries too.

     With no way to tell the time, David decided to get an early start. He didn’t want to be late for such an important date. He had to wash Pastor Kurt’s truck. It was another perfect day and David enjoyed the walk to the parking lot where he had to meet Pastor Kurt. He could hardly wait to find out exactly how much money he would get for his hard work. If today would be half as good as yesterday, David thought, it would be great.

     The parking lot was vacant when David arrived, but Pastor Kurt pulled up in his truck a few minutes later. He got out of the truck and flashed David a bright smile. “Glad to see you this morning, David.” The pastor embraced David with a hug that lasted longer than usual. “It’s going to be a big day, David, and I’m not quite ready for the crowd. Maybe you can help me.” 86

    “Okay.” They got the signs out of the truck and taped them to the windshield and the rear window. Pastor Kurt asked David to set up the two chairs, but then he had him move them three times. If washing the truck was so important, why didn’t they go to it? When the pastor started to walk around the block, David walked over to him and asked,

    “What are you doing?  Where are you going?”

     “I’m asking God to bless everyone who comes here today.”

     “Oh.” David began to walk alongside. They were halfway around the parking lot when David decided to remind the pastor of their deal. “Pastor Kurt, do you want me to wash your truck today?”

     “Yes, I do. We’ll get to it right away.”

     His anxiety growing, David said, “You ... you’re going to give me a big reward?”

     “Yes, David, a very big reward, but the truck has to be spotless.”

     Curiosity prompted the question that was uppermost in his mind. “How much exactly is a big reward?”

     Pastor Kurt just smiled. “I can’t tell you that, David. It’s a surprise. You’ll just have to wait and see.” The answer satisfied David for the moment because he liked surprises.

     The man who seemed so eager to get his truck washed sure took his time bringing out a five-gallon bucket, a sponge, towels, and some laundry soap.

     People began to gather to make their calls. One man walked up to David. “Is it really true that we can make a call for free?”  “Yes, you can call your mother. I called mine yesterday. Today I’m here to wash Pastor Kurt’s truck.” It boosted David’s selfesteem to be able to give out information.

     Pastor Kurt was already helping people make their calls. David put the soap and towels in the bed of the truck and waited patiently until the pastor could break away during a lengthy call. “Where will I get the water to wash the truck?” he asked.

     “You’ll need to go to the gas station down the street to get some water. Do you know where it is?”

     David nodded. The gas station was quite a distance away but he was used to walking. As he picked up the bucket, Pastor Kurt pressed some bills into David’s hand. “While you’re at the gas station, buy yourself a donut and a cup of coffee. There is a Krispy Kreme nearby. You’ll need the energy to wash my truck.”

     “Wow!” Quickly his enthusiasm vanished as he stared at three one-dollar bills in his hand. “Is this a big reward?”  He was hungry and knew where the donut shop was and he was glad to be able to get something to eat. But …

     With amusement in his voice, Pastor Kurt said, “No, David, your reward will be much more valuable than this, but you have to come back and do a perfect job before you can receive it.”


     The pastor put a hand on each of David’s shoulders and looked him right in the eye. “David, I’m counting on you,” he said. “Please don’t let me down. I need you to come back and do what you promised.”

    With a grin on his face, David said, “I will.” The urgency in Pastor Kurt’s voice surprised David but it made him feel that he was about to do something very important.

     On the way to the gas station, David kept up a fast pace. The sooner he got the job done, the sooner he could collect his big reward. He kept dreaming about how he would spend the money. Maybe he would even take in a movie, although he wanted to save most of it for burgers and shakes. Oh, yes, he would use some of the money to call home. That way he wouldn’t have to steal a cell phone. Stealing always made him feel really bad.

     At the donut shop David laid out the three dollars on the counter. “Is this enough for a cup of coffee and a donut?” he asked.  “Yes. You can even have a large coffee and two donuts.”  “I’ll take it.” He was beginning to feel the effects of missing breakfast and he had a lot of work to do before Pastor Kurt would give him the surprise of his life.

     When he picked up the bucket filled with water, David said to himself, Man that’s heavy! He began to pour out water until it was a few inches from the top, but the bucket was still heavy – heavier than the plastic bags full of aluminum cans he sometimes turned in for cash.  With the heavy load, David’s walk back to the truck was slower than before. Every time he tried to hurry, some water spilled out. A time or two he even had to put the bucket down and stretch his arms. By the time he arrived back at the truck, about half of the water was gone. He hoped it would be enough to wash the truck as he would hate to have to return to the gas station for more water.

     “Glad to see you back, David,” Pastor Kurt said. “After the long trip, maybe you’d like to sit and rest a while.”

     A break was welcome but, before long, the thought of the surprise that awaited him made him eager to get on with the job.

     As David rubbed the soapy sponge over the car, removal of the grime allowed the green paint to shine through. Because the truck was close to the chairs where Pastor Kurt and the callers sat, David could hear most of the conversations. It made the time go faster. The happy voices and the smiles on people’s faces gave David a warm feeling inside. Other people left with tears and solemn faces and David shared their sorrow.

     Every time he could break away from the phone, Pastor Kurt came over to give David a few words of praise. The encouragement made him want to do an even better job. When he saw people he knew in line, David hoped they would notice that he had a part in this important mission.

     A short while later, the water was so filthy that his attempt at washing a dirty area left muddy streaks. Only part of the job was finished. David went over and over an area but he could not remove the streaks. He was not surprised when Pastor Kurt said, “I’m afraid we’re going to have to get some clean water, David.”

      “Yeah.” David paused and looked around at the crowd.

    “Pastor Kurt, this is awesome – the phone calls and all. I’ll get going and be back to finish my part.” 

     All the way to the gas station, David dreaded the trip back with the heavy pail of water. This time he filled the bucket only half full because that was all he would end up with anyway. The job was turning out to require more effort than David expected, but he was determined to do his best. 

     Back at the job David tried to hurry. He knew about a mission that served an early dinner. Maybe he could finish in time to get the free meal. That way he could save the money from Pastor Kurt until he was really hungry. Of course he would have to worry that someone might beat him up and steal his money. Mom and Dad used to keep their money in a bank but David had never before had enough money to be concerned about. Where could he keep his money safe? He would remember to put the question to Pastor Kurt.

     When David announced that he had finished the job, the pastor put his arm on David’s shoulder. “It looks great, David. You did a wonderful job – except around the wheels. It’s hard to get all the corners but I know you can do it.”

     David worked until the wheels were gleaming but Pastor Kurt continued to point out spots on the truck. Why was he being so picky? David wondered.

     All the while people were lined up to make their calls, cars going by slowed down. The drivers were trying to figure out what was going on. Did that mean trouble? David wondered. He never understood why, but some people were out to get Pastor Kurt. The pastor was very brave and he could take care of himself, although he always said that God protected him for a purpose. David had heard that the pastor had several knives and even guns that people had used to try to hurt him. “God protects me because He loves you through me,” Pastor Kurt sometimes said. The explanation always made David feel good.

     Every eye in the line was turned toward the car that was moving closer to Pastor Kurt’s truck. Suddenly David dropped the sponge and yelled, “Mom,” as he ran toward the woman getting out of the car. For the moment, all he wanted was to remain locked in her embrace. When Dad tapped him on the shoulder, David released Mom with his left arm and included Dad in the gang hug.

     Applause erupted from the crowd. David smiled and waved. This was like a scene from a movie and David was the star. He couldn’t remember ever being so happy.

     After the excitement died down, David was full of questions. “How did you find me?” he asked.

     “Let’s go talk to Pastor Kurt. We need to thank him for his help,” Dad said. David did not understand what Pastor Kurt did to help them, but he went along with his parents. 

     Dad extended his hand to the pastor. “You have our undying gratitude,” he said. “David has been gone a long time, but we never stopped looking for him and longing to see him.”

      “I couldn’t promise anything but I’m glad it worked out,”

     Pastor Kurt said. With tears streaming down her face, Mom hugged the pastor. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she repeated several times.

     “Thank the Lord. I just put the situation in God’s hands and God worked it out.”

     Confused, David asked, “What are you all talking about? What did Pastor Kurt do?”

     “I’m not sure how he did it, but he kept you. We came as quickly as we could.”

     “But how did you know ... I heard Pastor Kurt talking to you. He didn’t tell you where I was.”

     “When he called, his number showed up on our phone. We called him that evening to make arrangements,” Mom explained.

     Casting an accusing look toward Pastor Kurt, David said, “That’s why you had me wash your truck and I had to do a perfect job.”

       “That’s right, David.”

       To his parents, David said, “You went to all of that trouble just to come and see me?”

     “It’s more than that, David. We’ve come to take you home with us,” Mom said as she gave her son yet another hug, “that is if you want to.”

       David released his arms and backed away. His joy from seeing his parents became clouded with fear. “Do I have to go to school?”  “No, David. You never have to go to school again. Either your father or I will be with you all the time,” Mom promised.  Pastor Kurt quickly took David by the hand and looked squarely into his eyes. “David, you don’t have to go if you don’t want to.”

     A smile spread clear across David’s face and he began to jump up and down. “All right! Let’s go home.”

     The next person in line was ready to make a call, but Pastor Kurt held up his hand to give his attention to David. “Don’t ever forget, David. God loves you and so do I.”

       “I’ll remember.”

     Mom and Dad both had a hand on David’s shoulder as they walked to the car. Mom sat in the middle and David sat in the passenger seat. Dad started the motor and turned around in the parking lot. As soon as the thought popped into his mind, David held up his hand. “Wait, Dad, wait! Roll down the window. I need to say something to Pastor Kurt.”

     Dad pulled forward. David stuck his head out the window. “Pastor Kurt,” he called. “What about the money for washing your truck? The reward?”

     With a smile on his face, Pastor Kurt said, “How much do you need for a big reward?”  

     David looked at his family sitting beside him. Laughing, he said, “Are you kidding?  This is my reward.”

     As they headed for home, David realized what he received today was far bigger than anything he could ever have imagined.