It was a shortly before 7:30pm when they came through the little red door. They were quiet, very well mannered and patient as they waited for a table that Friday night. They appeared tired and dirty. Their uniforms gave them away. They were three wild land firefighters here all they way from South Dakota to assist in fighting the fires which have ravaged our beautiful state. Even before they sat, another table of customers, dear friends of Geppetto’s, had offered to anonymously pay for their meal. The three men ate well and left happy and full. They were surprised by the generosity. With genuine gratitude they excepted the gift. They left to sleep for the night and to fight the Beachie Creek fire yet another day.
I wished after they left I had gotten their names. I wished I had asked more questions about who they are and where they are from. Oh well, I thought. They will remain in my prayers as the three tired, courageous firefighters from South Dakota who came all this way to help.
Fast forward to Wednesday around 8:00pm. Just as the rush was waning, faithful Geppetto’s customer, Charlie, reaches out to me and says, “Here’s some money. Firefighters are on their way in and I want to put this toward their meal.” Because Geppetto’s has no windows I was a little confused at first until the little red door flew open and the parade began.
From behind the pizza counter I watched as they filed in... not three this time but 10.
“You came back!” I shouted as I pointed to one of the three I had seen before.
Just then, Charlie turned to the group. With his booming voice and great big heart he thanked the men for their service.
So much taking my breath away these days. So much good is happening in the midst of suffering.
The men had the same look of exhaustion on their faces. “Come on in, I said. We’ll get you fed and ready for a good nights sleep.”
As they headed to table, Charlie picked up his pizza and turned toward the door.
“Thanks, Charlie. I said. You’re a good man. Your contribution will go a long way. We’ll see to it they are taken care of.”
Immediately my husband, Roger, quietly asked, “And just how are you going to do that?”
I quickly did a little math in my head... with Charlie’s donation and a recent gift from my mom, add $100 from another contributor and the $20 sent back to the restaurant from a delivery given for this very cause...
“Let’s see where we land.” I told Roger. “God will provide.”
Their final bill, when all was said and done, amounted to one dollar shy of the amount we had collected.
I went to Roger to give him the good news. “Well, he said, It’s coming out of your pocket.”
Those of you who know Roger know he was totally kidding. Together we acknowledge the fact that the losses are great, the depth and breadth of which continues to be revealed. No matter what your place in all this… know that you are never alone. We are in it together for the long haul. Even when the fires are out there will be more to do. Know that Roger and I are praying for all, trusting God will provide perfectly for each and every circumstance. We also wish to acknowledge the spirit of generosity which has exploded in our midst.
Digging fire lines through the forest floor of the Oregon wilderness is no small task. To Lowden, Jake, Jeremy and Crew; May your lives be blessed for every inch of progress you made on our behalf.
Side note... South Dakota is one of my most favorite states. If you haven’t seen the Crazy Horse Monument near Mt. Rushmore, you should. Its history will blow your mind.