I try and share this important story every Christmas season
aka The Northwoods Good Samaritan of 2001. This is a story near and dear to my heart that I like to share most every December. THIS WAS NOW 21 YEARS AGO!
Back in the December of 2001 on the roads of ice and snow near Hayward Wisconsin a young mom with her preschool children loaded in the family car was heading home to the nearby town of Drummond when along the road she spots an older man with the hood up on his car.
This was a typical bitter cold December day, but though she has her young children with her she is impressed to stop and see if she can help.
As she pulls over the old man approaches her car. She cautiously locks her doors and rolls down her window slightly to ask if she can help. The old man does not speak, tries to open the door, then reaches inside his coat.. making her all the more uneasy.
The old man pulls out a small keyboard from his jacket and plays a pre-typed short message explaining he has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) so he can not speak. He then types needs a ride into town. The young woman opens her car to the old man she does not know and drives him home.
This old man was my father Walter Larson, and the young woman was Jen Herricks, and Jen was the Good Samaritan of Northern Wisconsin 2001. I wonder how many cars drove by before Jen stopped to help. How many macho Northwoods guys in their 4x4 trucks drove by too busy to help an old man stranded on a bitterly cold winter day? Maybe none, but maybe too many. But no matter, my dad was cared for by someone with a family car and a kind heart.
Jen later explained to my mom that she thought my dad was an angel. There are a few explanations for this observation but no one before this had described my dad as an angel. A good guy for sure, but an angel? .. hmmm. Not so much.
Maybe an angel was standing alongside my dad that cold December day or the peace dad demonstrated just months before passing on to Heaven. Either way today was certainly a divine appointment with an angel named Jen.
I love the gospel passage Mt 25:35-40ish “You fed me when I was hungry, you clothed me when I was naked.” Well if the gospels were written today they would also say “you gave me a ride when I was an old man when my car broke down on a winter road in Wisconsin. For when you do these things for the least of my people, you do it for me.”
So Jen gives my dad a ride home. He offers her money, she refuses, and they go their separate ways. NICE STORY, BUT IT IS NOT OVER!.
A few weeks later my folks receive a Christmas card from Jen wishing and praying the best for them. This was a nice touch too, but... THE STORY IS NOT OVER!
My dad passed away from his battle with ALS just a couple short months after their December encounter. The funeral was a celebration of the good man my dad was, and his reward in Heaven. 'Irony' or providence has it Jen and her family began attending my mom & dad's church in Cable Wisconsin still not realizing the connection.
After a short period, it became clear to Jen that my mom attends this same church.. and so Jen contacts my mom. This began a friendship that continued until my mom passed away in December 2016.. 15 YEARS later. This friendship continued after Jen's family moved 70 miles away, and my mom later moved 150 miles to the Twin Cities. I mean, c'mon this took this good Samaritan thing too far... they must have actually become close friends. Correction they were the best of friends.
When Jen came to visit my mom it is with hugs and kisses that are reserved normally for family. Her kids called her Grandma Nell, and many of the trips included sleepovers in my mom's little apartment This friendship God has provided Jen those 15 years with my mom as a ‘seasoned’ Christian woman to talk and confide in.
My mom as I mentioned passed away in December 2016, but you can not take away the blessing of that God-orchestrated ride 15 years earlier for my dad, or the wonderful friendship over the next 15 for my mom and for Jen. God is good even through tough times.
BUT IT IS NOT OVER!. Jen and her husband Todd now serve the Lord in Uganda working with a ministry called 'Woven2gether' serving expecting mothers valuing the born and unborn, and becoming strong families while sharing the Gospel.
Thank you, Jen & Todd. May God bless and use you both in ways that are beyond your dreams.
So as Christmas approaches, please take time to slow down and notice the angel appointments in your life.
one last BUT IT'S NOT OVER... This December, Jen & Todd adopted Caleb Kica HERRICKS! It’s officIal!
We want to thank everyone who supported our journey and have loved Caleb both near and far. God says prefect religion is this that we care for (bring into our home) the widows and orphans. We are so blessed to call Caleb our son officially.
God has moved mountains along the way to bring him to us permanently. We are so blessed that he chose us to be his parents.
Thank you to those of you who prayed with us and guided us and took the time to talk with us and encourage us in the process. Your heart and stories completely impacted ours.
We are grateful for this part to be accomplished. We now have to work towards his medical visa to address his diagnosis of craniosynotosis. God will make a way.
Caleb Kica we love you. We declare over you that you will love God all the days of your life. That you will serve Him And glorify Him throughout your days. You will love God even if no one else does. You will not stop seeking the kingdom of God until you get your full inheritance of what God has promised you. In Jesus name.
As Caleb says best, Amen!
and I am sure as I end this blog.. THIS STORY IS NOT OVER
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson