LONG entry ahead! I mean LONG, folks!
First, I want to start things off on a light note. I wish college football season was here already!!! Keep your eyes on this man, “The President,” Reggie Bush. He’s like a video game character on the gridiron. He can shake and bake, juke and cut, break ankles, and make people miss!
Victory signs up, everybody! The “V” for victory is what Winston Churchill did in World War II. It’s not just the peace sign, ya’ll!
After God’s Anointed Servants (G.A.S.) were done gathering last Thursday night for our weekly small group time, I asked Jon to give me a ride in the new 2005 Toyota Tacoma, Motor Trend’s 2005 Truck of the Year. He drove me a couple of blocks in the new whip and returned to his house. As we were traveling East on Foothill, we passed a man walking Eastbound on Foothill who appeared to be trying to hitchhike his way somewhere. I wasn’t sure if I was seeing correctly, but made some sort of remark to Jon that it was surprising to see a hitchhiker in his neck of the woods (Map here courtesy of Google Maps).
After Jon let me out of the new whip, I spent some a few more seconds looking at the truck a little bit more, specifically the non-functional hood scoop. Next, I got into my car and began what I thought was going to be my drive home. As I came to a stop at the stop sign on Oak Dale Lane and Foothill Blvd., the same hitchhiker had finished walking by me. We made eye contact and he started walking toward my vehicle. I cracked the right front passenger window a little bit and he told me his story. He said his vehicle had run out of gas and he wanted a ride to the nearest gas station. I gave it a little thought and turned him down. Seconds later, I thought I might as well help him and if something bad happens, I’ll just try to deal with it at the time. This fellow was of decent build and if he were to try something on me, I have no idea how I would’ve been able to handle it. So instead of making a left onto Foothill, I make a right and motion him to hop in. He sounded really appreciative and started to give me a little more detail regarding his situation. He was walking around with a small emergency gas tank. Everything seemed to check out. I drove him to the Arco on Foothill and Santa Anita for him to get some gas. While he filled up his little tank, I was thinking about how I could talk to him, specifically about what his own religious beliefs were.
After getting gas, we started heading Westbound on Foothill Blvd and I asked the man his name and started sharing with Jim how I had first spotted him when Jon was giving me a ride in his new truck after we had gotten done with our “Bible study.” I figured that would be a good lead in to discussing things of a more spiritual nature. The plan now was to pick up his wife who also had left the stranded vehicle and was unable to walk as far as Jim. He also asked if I went to USC and mentioned that he had a daughter who graduated from UCSB. As we talked a little bit more, Jim said he had said a little prayer that someone would help them out after they had run out of gas. He also mentioned that he was a Christian. He said he was raised Roman Catholic and I never totally pried into whether he was truly born again or not. Maybe I thought it didn’t flow with the conversation? A “failure” on my part? I hope not. I was just hoping God would be taking everything we would be talking about and use it for His purpose. I also mentioned that he was a good-sized fellow which was a reason I was hesitant to help him in the first place. He said he used to be a running back in I’m guessing high school. Of course this is where I mentioned I was a wide receiver and defensive back in my high school days. We reached his wife, Karen, who was standing on Loma Lisa Lane or one of those short streets off Foothill waiting for him to return. As I was about to help her into the car, I had to remind myself to turn off the car’s ignition and take my keys out (You never know, folks! Better safe than sorry!). Once Karen was in, Jim and I chatted a little bit more about my background. He asked what my ethnicity was and what my own personal religious background was. I mentioned to him that my parents were from Hawai’i and that they moved to California after my dad got out of the U.S. Navy. I also mentioned that I had always grown up around the Christian faith contrary to the association that many people still connect Asian with the Buddhist faith.
At this point in time, I asked where their vehicle was located. The vehicle was in-between the Westbound 210 offramp and onramp. I got onto the latter and parked before it ended with my hazard lights flashing. We went back to their vehicle which was a 1965 Chevrolet pickup Jim had been given from his father. Before we had made it back to the vehicle, Karen also mentioned that she had looked across the freeway (facing South) and saw a church there placing her hope that help with come in some form. Once we got to the Chevy, Karen hopped in the shotgun seat and Jim put gas in the tank and some on the carburetor. Next, Jim tried to get the vehicle to start, but it still was unable. He then proceeded to put more gas on the carburetor and the vehicle turned over and started! Before I let them leave however, I asked Jim if I could pray for them and he didn’t mind at all. I think he may have even been glad that I asked that. I prayed thanking God that His grace allowed me to help them out and that He would help them return home safely and also draw them closer to Himself in their lives. I would have to say that was definitely my headlight of the evening and week!
After I prayed for them, they went on their way and I hopped back into my car. We both exited the Rosemead South offramp and then went onto a gas station and I went South on Rosemead all the way to the 10 West freeway to head back home. They gave me a couple of honks and a wave when I turned right onto Rosemead as they continued straight to the Arco on the corner of Rosemead and Foothill if I remember correctly.
Some thoughts I had after the whole encounter included: Do I trust people too easily? Am I a sucker? Was this one of those incidents where how I treated these people just like how I treat Jesus (See Matthew 25)? Was I their pseudo-deliverer/angel for the evening?
This blessed encounter reminded me of two things
1) I picked up a hitchhiker in the Redwood National Forest in NorCal with a few other AACFers during Spring Break 2003. That lady wanted me to drive a totally unreasonable distance after I had already got her to the place she said she had initially needed to go to. To be honest, I couldn’t tell if she had all her marbles. At the same time, I don’t think we should have spoken with the other car in our group over the 2-way radio in Chinese, it may have alienated the lady or made her feel uncomfortable (not as uncomfortable as the rest of the passengers in the car with me though – this is where the “I’m a big boy and I can take care of myself” thinking also played a role). I still think I wouldn’t be going out too far on a limb saying she probably wasn’t all there though.
2) The one time I ran out of gas on the Eastbound 10 my sophomore year at USC. It was a Thursday night and I was driving home after our Asian American Christian Fellowship (AACF) large group meeting where our speaker had just spoken on James 1-considering it all joy when you face trials. I knew I was already very low on gas, but thought I really could make it to the gas station close to home (think New Avenue exit). I didn’t make it that far and ran out of fuel right before the Atlantic exit. This was back when I was driving my family’s 1997 Oldsmobile Ciera SL with a 3.1L OHV V-6. As some of you may know, offramp/onramp design on the 10 Freeway from Freemont to I’d say Del Mar Ave. is pretty much horrendous. To go South on Atlantic, one has to brake fairly moderately and turn to the right. Since the engine had cutout (because the car was out of gas), there was no power assist to the brakes for the (3,100-3,200 lb.) vehicle. And while we’re at it, there was no power steering as well.
After the slight scare, but successful wrestling of the car onto the freeway offramp, I had to make a quick decision. Heed the stop sign at the end of the offramp (thereby killing any momentum I still had) or keep on rolling. I chose the latter and then made a right turn onto Hellman from Atlantic where it came to a dead stop seconds later. I walked about a block to Timothy Cheng’s house (it was early September so Cal Poly SLO still had not started yet) and unexpectedly rang his doorbell around 11 PM. Problem #1: Since I did not have an emergency gas tank on me, we used an old 1 gallon milk jug and filled it up with gasoline. Problem #2: I did not have a funnel or spout to get the gas from the jug into the tank. Solution A: I found a flathead screwdriver in the trunk which I would press down on the thin metal flap. I tried to pour and splash the gas from the jug into the tank, but since the tank’s opening was recessed a little, I wasn’t too successful and was making quite a mess. Solution B: I went “digging” in the trunk again and found an old tissue box. I folded the box into a long “v” shape (similar in shape to what is found at the rear of a cement mixing truck) and used it to direct the gas into the tank while still keeping the metal flap open with the flathead screwdriver.
God really bailed me out of that one in such an awesome way because Tim Cheng was the person He first used to bring me back to Him in August 1997. It was also “convenient” for me to run out of gas where I did so that I could simply walk to Tim’s house and enlist his help.
GOD IS AWESOME!!! Wake the neighbors! Get the word out! Not to us, but to His name be the glory!
All glory and honor and praise
All glory and honor and praise
All glory and honor and praise
All glory and honor and praise