Latter-day Saint Voices

The Stranger’s Smile

By Jenner Porter, Texas, USA

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    Family at restaurant

    Illustration by Raymond Bonilla

    I normally would have avoided him—a worn-down man playing a game of cards at a table in the play area of a local fast-food restaurant. He had a soft smile on his sad countenance as he watched the children play. “He must be warming himself from the cold,” I thought as I passed his table to throw away my daughter’s half-eaten meal. As I noticed his table, bare of any food wrappers or paper cups, the still, small voice whispered to me, “Buy him some food.”

    I returned to my table with some cash still in my pocket. “I’ll embarrass him,” I told myself. Then a feeling of peace came, and the Spirit’s sweet whispering stilled me: “Buy him some food.”

    I didn’t tell my children what I was doing; I just picked up some trash and went to throw it away so I could get near the man’s table without letting my friend who I was eating with know.

    I leaned in and asked, “Can I buy you some lunch?”

    He looked startled and softly replied, “If you want to.”

    I pulled out the small amount of cash I had left—just enough for a meal and a drink—and gave it to the man. I returned to my seat, undiscovered by the busy moms around me, and watched the man get up to buy his meal.

    As I loaded my children into the car to go home, I looked through the window and saw the man carrying a tray of food back to his empty table. On his once-solemn face was a smile.

    The winter breeze blowing against my face didn’t feel quite so cold. I basked in the warm, joyful Spirit that filled me from my boots to my frozen ponytail. I remembered the teaching of the Savior:

    “For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink …

    “Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? …

    “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:35, 37, 40).

    I am thankful for the smile of a stranger that helped me find the courage to do what is right.