The author lives in Virginia, USA.
It was one of those freezing December days. I was a pregnant, perpetually exhausted student, and I was working part-time. As I drove home in the dark after a long day at school and work, I remember thinking about how I wanted nothing more than to curl up on the couch under a blanket and sleep for three years. But I realized I had promised my husband that I would fill up the car with gas, so I pulled into the nearest gas station.
The freezing air hit me like a brick wall when I got out of the car—I bounced up and down on my feet, trying to stay warm as I waited for my car to fill up. I was lost in my thoughts of the couch and nap waiting for me at home when I heard a soft voice behind me. A woman stepped forward, looking not nearly warm enough in a thin jacket.
“Excuse me,” she said. “You speak Spanish?” I replied that I did, and she asked me in Spanish if I had any change she could have. As she gestured toward an old minivan parked at another gas pump, she explained that she and her family were refugees and were trying to get to California to find work.
As I looked into the woman’s eyes, I could see the worry and fear of a mother trying to provide a good life for her family. I saw beautiful, dark-eyed children peeking out of the van windows, and I felt God’s love for this sweet family. I immediately decided to pay for her gas. While her husband filled up their van, I talked to the woman, asking where she and her family were from and about her kids. Before I left, I gave her a hug and wished her good luck. I told her I would pray for them. Despite the freezing air, I felt warm and a little teary-eyed as I got in my car to drive home.
That’s when I remembered that the theme for that day of the Light the World campaign was “honor thy father and mother.” I still hadn’t done anything for that yet. I had planned to call my parents or write them a note, but I had been so busy I had almost forgotten.
So when I got home, I called my mom and told her what had happened at the gas station. I told her that my way of honoring her and my dad that day was to serve this woman and her family, following the example I had seen my parents set throughout my life. I couldn’t stop thinking about that woman and her family, and I thanked Heavenly Father for the opportunity to meet her and help her just a little on her journey. I prayed that others would be there to help her and her family the rest of the way.
I think I had expected to give a lot to others during the Light the World initiative that Christmas season, but I found that I was the one who really benefited from the service. I was filled with a love and joy that made me forget myself and my own exhaustion and nausea. Though I had given some light and hope to that woman, I was the one filled with an abundant light on a cold, dark night.
Mckenna is a freelance editor. She loves experimenting in the kitchen, reading nonfiction, and devouring chocolate ice cream. She lives in Virginia with her husband and daughter.