I had the opportunity to spend two days in San Jose, Costa Rica with the Meyer family who have been serving Latin American Mission at La Palabra de Vida school in San Jose. I got to spend some quality time with the family learning about their experiences living and serving overseas. On Sunday night, Josh was going to take me to the airport and he encouraged me to pack some sandwiches for the trip, “You never know how hungry you’ll be or who else is going to need one.”
There was a big group hanging out in the San Jose airport to catch the 2:05am flight to Fort Lauderdale. As I was standing in line to check in and there was a couple from the States, and we started talking about how early or late it was in the evening. The husband asked where I was from and when I told him “Virginia” he said that there was a young guy hanging out from Virginia who was having a problem with his debit card. The young man hadn’t yet gotten the deposit back from the rental car company, so he didn’t have enough money to buy a ticket home and was going to have to spend the night in the airport without any money or food. He was going to stay up as late as he could so that he would be able to sleep straight through until the morning because he didn’t want to wake up and be hungry and have no money and no food for the rest of the night. The couple wished there was something they could do.
After I checked in I headed toward the security and found the guy who looked like he was trying to get comfortable on an airport bench.
I said, “Hey, are you the guy from Virginia who’s stuck here overnight?”
He was like “Yeah, I ran into problems with my debit card and I have to wait until 8:00am to withdraw enough money to pay for a ticket back home. I haven’t eaten lunch or dinner and it’s been a ridiculously terrible day . . . How did you know about me?”
I responded, “There was a couple in line from Florida. They told me about your story and they felt bad that nowhere was open to buy you some food . . . but listen, from one Virginian to another, do you want a ham and cheese sandwich?”
“Are you serious??? I would love one! I haven’t eaten all day. Oh, that would be so awesome. You’re really serious?”
So I gave him the extra sandwich and a bag of peanuts and raisins I had in my bag. He was in such disbelief and was so grateful for the food, he just sat there looking at me. As I walked away he immediately tore into the sandwich.
I sat down at the gate and about 10 minutes later the couple came up and I saw the husband with a huge smile on his face. He reached out to shake my hand and he said, “Thank you, thank you, thank you. We felt so bad for that young guy but couldn’t do anything to help him out. I appreciate what you did back there.”
And I said, “Well if y’all hadn’t told me about it, then he’d still be hungry . . . I guess it was more of a combined effort.”
Both he and his wife smiled. They told me they were just coming back from their honeymoon, and the felt bad they couldn’t do anything for the guy.
6:17am in Fort Lauderdale we were picking up out bags from the baggage claim. The husband came up and wished me well for my upcoming trip, “Thanks again for helping out that guy in Costa Rica. It’s really good what you did. Blessings to you in the Dominican Republic. I know you’ll do great things.”
I stepped back and thought about this small event and how it really wasn’t me at all. It was first Josh who encouraged me to make another sandwich, and then it was probably the guy’s wife who felt terrible for the young man and encouraged her new husband to do something (I mean think about it, “Honey, are you going to let that young man starve? What if he was our son? Would you want him to be sitting in the airport all alone with no money and no food?”), and then there was the husband who was incredibly concerned but still powerless to do something about the situation.
And then there was me, the fourth person in the chain with an extra sandwich that got to help a neighbor in Virginia.
As simple as it sounds, from now on, I think I’ll pack an extra sandwich and begin a campaign for packing extra sandwiches. You never really know which person you’ll be as you wait for an early morning flight.