As The stranger was walking down the street, the children were just getting out of school. He waited on the corner for the Little Boy and Girl to catch up to him. They came running up to him, talking all at once. The Stranger said, “Whoa! One at a time, one at a time!” The Little Girl said, ‘Look! Look!’ She had stickers on her hand. The Little Boy said “we did our necklaces today for the first time, and it was kind of hard but we did it! And I got lots of stickers and she gave me a purple sticker because that’s her favorite color. I found that out today. We had a lot of fun!” The Stranger just laughed, and said “I’m so glad to hear it! Are you going to the scripture school in the morning?” Both of them said “Yes! We like the new teacher’s assistant to! She’s really nice. And she has a lot of patience.”
The Stranger laughed again. “Do you kids know what the word patience means?” The Little Boy said, ‘Yes! Because the teacher explained it to us at the beginning of the year to teach us how to have patience with each other.”
‘Jesus what’s patience?’
Jesus said, “Patience is when you don’t get angry at someone for doing something that you think is slow, or dumb. Patience is treating another person the way you want to be treated. Patience is taking the time to listen to someone even though you’ve heard them tell a story before. Patience is not being demanding. It’s not demanding someone act a way that you think they should act, but allowing them the time it takes to speak or act however they are. Patience means when you’re teaching someone something else, that you don’t get short with them.”
‘Jesus? Like my Dad does? When he teaches me something, if I don’t get it right away he gets really mad’. “Yes honey. That means he doesn’t have much patience. You should not yell at somebody. It doesn’t make you feel good doesn’t Nini?” ‘No Daddy it doesn’t. I get all flustered and then I forget what he said and then he gets mad again.’
“Yes baby I know.”
‘Jesus? Will you help me to be patient? I don’t want to be like my Daddy on earth. I want to have more patience with people and I want to be nice to people. I don’t want to be like he is.’
Jesus said, “yes baby I will teach you.”
‘Daddy? You’re really patient with me.’
“Yes I am baby, because I love you very much. And I want you to learn all that you can. I want you to be healed in all your parts and I want you to be able to help others.”
‘Daddy does Janine know that?’ “Yes she does.” ‘Daddy? Are you going to help Janine to?’ “Yes baby I am. I already am.” ‘Thank you Daddy. Daddy? I’m sleepy can I go to bed now?’
‘Goodnight Daddy. I love you. Thank you for doing all this for us.’ “Oh sweetheart ,you are most welcome! I love you too, my sweet baby girl.”
I smiled, “You haven’t called me babygirl in a long time.’ “No sweetheart I haven’t. You like that one the best don’t you?” ‘Yes Daddy I do.’ “Why is that baby girl?”
‘Because it makes me feel special to you, specially loved and cuddled, and wrapped up in marshmallows. Or blankets. I like blankets Jesus.’ “I know you do honey, I see how many you have.”
‘Oh no Jesus, those aren’t mine those are Janine’s.’ “Baby girl, why do you think she’s always getting so many blankets?” ‘I don’t know.’ “It’s because you like them.” ‘OH! REALLY Jesus?’
“Yes baby, really. All of your little ones have a profound effect on the person that you’re attached to. If you’re angry and act out, then they act out in their lives. That’s why it’s so important for you to be healed. That’s why I’m teaching you all these things. I know that Janine did not have an upbringing. That’s why I’m taking time to teach all of you this. So that you can all be healed and you can help each other and help Janine.”
“When you are all healed and you all know how to act, then you will all work together helping each other and making the adult, who is Janine, a better person.”
‘Oh Jesus! Thank you! I know that she wants that.’
“Yes honey she does, she’s very appreciative that you all have helped her for so long, but she does want you to grow up as much as you can. She wants you to learn what you can and be healed and be happy. So that’s why I am here helping you all. Because you as a group, as one-unit are very important to me. Every single person is very important to me.”
‘Ohhhhh. Well Daddy, I’m glad you’re doing it because I really like knowing you and I like that you teach me and I like that you have patience with me and I like that you don’t ever call me names.’
Jesus interrupted and said “Baby I would never, ever do that. You are so precious to me.”
‘I like that I’m precious to you. And I like that you love me so much and I like that you’re patient with me and I like that you listen to me. Thank you, thank you Jesus! Thank you Daddy.’
“You are welcome my babygirl. All my babygirls. I love you sweetheart.” ‘l love you too Daddy. I love you too.’ I whispered back.
The Stranger said, “That’s a wonderful thing for your teacher to teach you! And it’s wonderful that you listened and remembered! When you go to scripture school there will be scriptures for you to remember there and I’m sure you’ll do very well.”
‘Stranger? Are you coming to our house for dinner tonight?’ The Little Boy asked.
“Well yes son I am.”
‘Goody goody!’ He jumped up and down. ‘Is the Little Girl’s Mommy and Daddy coming over to?’
The Stranger said, “They’re coming over for dessert, I believe.”
They kids got to the front of the Little Girl’s house. She asked, ‘are you going to come play on the swing set?’
The Little Boy said ‘Not right now. Since The Strangers’ here tonight, I want to see what’s going on at home. Is that okay with you? I don’t want to hurt your feelings. The Little Girl said, ‘Oh yes! I’ll see you for dessert tonight anyway, so we can play on it tomorrow after school.’
‘Okay I’ll see you tonight bye!’
‘Bye’ she said.
The Little Boy held The Stranger’s hand and it felt so comfortable and so warm and loving. He really liked The Stranger. The Stranger said, “I have a surprise for you.”
“Yes I do. We have to wait till we talk to your parents first though.”
‘Oh can’t you give me a hint?’
The Stranger laughed and said, “I already gave you a hint that I have something for you.”
The little boy looked sullenly down at the ground and kicked a rock.
“Oh, come on little one, it’s not that big a deal that you need to act like you’re spoiled. Are you spoiled?”
The Little Boy said, ‘No I’m not.’
“I didn’t think so. Come on, we’re at your house now, let’s go inside and see what’s been going on today.”
They went inside and the boy smelled something different. He couldn’t put his finger on it but it smelled fresh. His mother said “Close your eyes son,” and she took him by the hand and led him somewhere. The smell got stronger, she said “Open your eyes.” He opened his eyes and he thought he was in someone else’s house. The floor was shiny, and it was wood! It didn’t even look like his house. It looked like everything was new. New furniture, new lights, new curtains, new rug, he was bedazzled! His mama said, “Do you like it?”
‘Oh Mama Where did it come from?’ ‘It came from The Stranger.” He looked up at The Stranger and he said, ‘How come you didn’t tell me?’ The Stranger said “surprise!”
“Actually, I wanted to tell you something and I want to tell your parents too.”
His Mama said, ‘Come into the living room, that’s where my husband is. You can tell us all in there.’ So they all went into the living room and The Little Boy sat on the sofa gingerly as if he thought it would break. Then he looked around him and started bouncing on it with his bottom. The adults saw him and laughed.
The Stranger sat in the chair across from the sofa where The Little boy, his mama and daddy were sitting.
“We’re going to put sidewalks in the town but we’re going to start on your street first. You know that area at the end of your street that’s just a big field? We’re going to put a park.”
His mama said ‘We? We who?’ “My employer has directed this to happen.” His mama said “ohhh” and she had that look on her face that says, I better not ask any more questions.
The Stranger turned to the little boy and said, “Do you want to know the surprise I have for you?” The Little Boy said ‘Yes! Please!’ “The sidewalks are going to be done when you get home from school tomorrow. It’s a special concrete that dries quickly.
Your present is on the back porch. His mama looked quizzically at The Stranger. The Little Boy said, ‘Mama? Daddy? May I go look?’ They both said ”Sure son.” So he went to the back porch door and flipped on the light. He went out to the back porch and there was a bike! His very own bicycle! It had training wheels on it, but he knew he wouldn’t need those for long.
It was blue, and it had silver stripes on it. It had streamers on the handlebars and a small basket on the front. And it had something that he always wanted, when he looked at pictures of bicycles. Even though nobody else had them and he knew it was really old fashioned, like old from his mother’s day, but it was a banana seat! It was blue on top and silver stripes on the sides. He stood there with his mouth open. His parents came out just after he went outside, and were standing behind him. They heard no sound out of their son. His mom bent around to look at him, laughed and said “shut your mouth son, before a fly comes in!”
The little boy closed his mouth, turned around and ran over to The Stranger grabbing him around the waist and said ‘Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! How did you know that I wanted a banana seat? How did you know? How did you know that I wanted a blue and silver bike? How did you know? Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!’
He ran over to his mama and his daddy and hugged them. ‘Thank you, thank you! May I ride it now? May I ride it now?’ His Daddy laughed and said, “Son there’s no sidewalk out front, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow.”
The little boy looked crestfallen. It seemed like he was always waiting for something. Then he said, ‘Okay Daddy.’ Because he knew there wasn’t any sense in arguing. There was nothing that could be done about it. Then his mama said, “I’ll tell you what Son, we will move the furniture out of the way and you can ride it in the living room. The floors are nice and clean and shiny and the bike is brand new and not dirty, so it won’t dirty up the floor. But only this one time in your life okay?”
The Little Boy’s face brightened up and he looked up in her. ‘Thank you!’ Tears started to well up in his eyes. She said “Why are you crying Son?” ‘Because I’ve never had a bike before. And the new clothes I got! And everything’s just.. so much stuff is going on!’ His mama went over and sat down on the sofa. She brought him over to her and gave him a big hug. “I know Son, it’s wonderful. I also know that it’s hard to digest it when so many things happen at once. Even if they’re good. Like all these have been. It’s hard to take it all in. You bring it in and we’ll have everything pushed aside.”
‘Yes Mama!’ He ran outside and got it off the kickstand, opened the screen door and figured out how to prop the door open, then open the regular door. When he came in, he put the kickstand down and left the bike there, then went back and closed the screen door and the big door.
‘Okay Mama, watch Daddy, watch Stranger, watch!’ He got on the bike with the training wheels. It was a little wobbly at first and his dad went over and steadied the bike for him. He got on and started around the living room. All the adults were laughing because they were happy seeing him happy. The little boy was going around in circles. And then he got to where he was steady on the bike and he told his daddy, ‘will you please take the training wheels off?’ His Daddy said, “are you sure Son?” ‘Yes Daddy.’ So the training wheels came off. ‘Thank you.’ Then he got on the bike. His Dad asked, “do you want me to steady the bike for you Son?”
‘No thank you, I think I can do it on my own now.’ So he got up on the bike seat and started off. It was wobbly, the front wheel was wobbling all over the place, but he straightened it out and there he was! Riding a two wheeled bike with no training wheels!
All the adults started clapping. His Mama said “Okay everybody, we need to go have some supper. The little girl and her parents are coming over after supper for dessert.”
The Stranger looked over the little boy and winked. The little boy winked back.
They all went into the kitchen where his mama took a casserole out of the oven. It sure smelled good thought the little boy. She put it on the table, took some green beans off the stove and put butter on it and put it that in a bowl on the table. There was also salad. ‘Mama? Why are there two vegetables?’ She said laughingly, “One is a salad, one is a vegetable and one is the main dish. The Little Boy said ‘oh,’ sounding like he didn’t understand and he did not understand.
At supper his Daddy asked him, “Son? What was your day like at school today? The Little Boy told him all about the necklaces, the stars and the new teacher’s assistant. Then he asked his wife, “How was your day honey?” Then he laughed, “I think I can imagine! It was quite surprising to come in here and see the living room like that! It’s lovely!”
She told him what the workers had done when they came. How how they had cleaned and then brought all the furniture in and took all the bad old stuff away. Then she asked him “Honey how was your day?”
He said, “It was interesting,” and began to tell them what happened that day. Apparently the foreman from the other job came to town and spoke with him. The foreman told him that the owner of the business went into partnership with someone else. Someone who is very experienced and wanted to expand the business. They decided they would expand it to the town that he lived in. So before he even started work, he got a promotion! His wife’s mouth dropped open and her eyes got wide.
They were setting him up as the head of the new office in their town. They were going to be building an office and a house for him. The foreman said they felt bad that he wouldn’t be moving into the house in the new town, so the new owner said, “it’s only right to build a brand new house in this town.” I told the foreman our house is fine.” His wife said “Oh yes! Our house is fine!” Her husband went on, “he would have none of it. Apparently this is something that they do with this company. They build houses or give housing to their employees that are foreman and above. So, it looks like we’re going to be staying in this town honey.”
His wife said, “You know honey, I was looking forward to moving to a new town, meeting new people. I thought it might be better than this town. But since The Stranger has been here and since the kids pulled up the cork, our town has changed. For the better. It’s not so ugly to live here anymore. People are getting along now, there’s still grumpy people of course, but overall…I’m getting to know my neighbors and our town is changing. So I’m glad that we’re staying here. And a new house is exciting! Even though I got this brand new living room today, I know that the little girl and her parents will be moving in here and that’s exciting for them. By the way,” she said, “where are they, supper is done they should be here soon.”
“That’s another thing,” said her husband. “They want to hire…well wait, I’ll tell everybody when they get over here.” So his mama started clearing the table and asked, “will you help me Son?” ‘Yes Mama.’ He got up and began clearing the table. She put the dishes in the sink after scraping them into the trash. The Little Boy got everything off the table, the salt and pepper and all that, and put it away. He asked ‘What’s for dessert Mama? We never have dessert. Unless it’s something special.”
She said, “Well it is kind of special. Your daddy told me what he’s going to tell our neighbors, so I made something special. It’s a recipe that the stranger gave me.”
“What is it Mama”? “Oh honey, you’ll see when I bring it out! Why don’t you take your bike out to the back porch and your daddy and the stranger will put the living room back together.”
“Ok mama”, he said.
He went and put his bike outside while the men put the living room back together and his Mama finished the dishes. There was a knock on the door. ‘May I answer it Daddy?’ “Go ahead Son.” He ran to the door and opened it and there was the Little Girl and her parents. “They’re here!” The little boy yelled loud enough for everyone to hear. His mom came to the front door and grabbed the little girls mom by the arm and said “Come! Look at this! Look at this!” The two women went into the living room. “Oh my gosh!” Said the little girls mother. “Where did all this come from?” The boys mama said, “There was a delivery today. They cleaned everything, painted it, brought in new furniture and look! Crown molding!” The Little girls mother stood there, then bent down and felt the floor with her finger. It’s so shiny!” “I know, isn’t it gorgeous? And they painted the walls and the baseboards, they put new baseboards on. Isn’t it beautiful?” “Yes! It is!”
The men had walked into the living room as well, and they were all talking about how awesome it looked.
The little boy took the little girl by the arm and said to her, “Come on, I want to show you something!”
He took her over to the back door, and he said, I want you to stand out there. She said, “In the dark?” He said just for a second, and I want you to turn to the left. So she went and stood outside. She looked at him and he said “Close your eyes!” So she closed her eyes and he flipped the light switch on and he said “open your eyes”! She opened her eyes and gasped.
“Oh my gosh!” she exclaimed, “it’s beautiful! How come there’s no training wheels on it?” He said, “There were, but my mama let me ride it in the living room, she and my daddy pushed all the furniture out of the way and that’s what I was doing before we had dinner. And I got so good that my daddy took the training wheels off, I don’t need them anymore.” “Wow”! she exclaimed. “That was fast!”
They heard his mama calling for everyone to come into the kitchen for dessert. They ran inside. They all sat down at the table. His mama had put a tablecloth on the table and it was white with purple flowers and green leaves. His mama said they were lilacs. But the boy didn’t know what those were.
It was real pretty he thought. And there were purple plates and Green cups and silverware. And in the middle of the table was this tall white cake. He and the little girl sat down in their chairs next to each other, The Stranger was at his right, then the rest of the people. His mama said, “There is special news that my husband has, and we are celebrating with this cake, it’s called a Market Basket cake. Cake and coffee and some vanilla ice cream if anyone would like some. But you might want to taste the cake first.” There were oohs and ahhhs from everyone at the table.
His daddy said, “Would you like to hear the news first before dessert or after dessert?” The woman looked at her husband and he looked at her, she nodded her head and he said “We’d like to hear the news first, before dessert please.”
So his daddy cleared his throat and said, “The foreman from the town where we were moving came over today and talked to me. Apparently the owner merged with someone else and they’re opening up an office in this town. They’ve placed me in charge of the new office. They said they will be building us a brand new house. They said they have lots of plans for this town. They have heard that the town has changed and that the people have changed in this town. They are eager to expand their business and this is the first town they are going to. So when the house is built, you folks will be moving into this one. They’re going to start work on it tomorrow, along with laying sidewalks on this street. They have a new concrete, that’s quick drying and they have new methods of building houses and buildings. Fabricated, premanufactured, all kinds of things, and I guess, from what I understand, they’re shipping a lot of parts in to the company. And they want you,” he looked at the little girl’s daddy, “to be a manager in the company overseeing the lumber and hardware supplies.” The man sat there. The Little Boy looked at him, everybody looked at him.
He found his voice and he said “Wow! Are you sure?” The Little Boys daddy said, “As sure as I’m sitting here. They give houses to their foremen and above in the company. So until our house is built, we can’t move out so you can’t move in here. So they are going to put you and your family up at a hotel for a week and rebuild your house. In fact, they’re going to rebuild all the houses on the rocky road. So that’s the news. What do you think of it?”
The man just sat there not saying anything. His wife had tears rolling down her cheeks and the little girl is looking at both of her parents wondering if she should be happy or be sad. She decided she’d be happy. She started clapping her hands. “All of this is good isn’t it Mama? Isn’t it Daddy?” Her mama said through her tears “yes honey, it’s very good”. Her daddy said “Yes babydoll, it’s very good. It’s more than good, it’s fantastic! Thank you Lord!” His wife said “Yes, thank you Lord.” And the little girl said “thank you Daddy Jesus!”
The little boy said “Can we have dessert now?” Everybody laughed, the little girls mommy asked, “What kind of cake is it again?”
“It’s called Market Basket cake. It’s white cake cut into four layers. In between the first layer is strawberries and whipped cream. The second layer is bananas and whipped cream. The third layer is pineapple and whipped cream, with whipped cream on the top and sides. I’ve heard this is a very good cake, but we will all see how good it is.”
She cut the cake and passed all the slices around.
She poured coffee for the adults and the little boy asked ‘Mama? Since it’s so special can she and I have coffee tonight too?’ His mom had started to shake her head no, and he said, ‘please?’ She said “okay, but I’m going to make it.”
She put half coffee and half milk in the cup and gave it to each of them. So everybody had coffee and cake. The little kids felt so adult and everybody ate the cake with gusto. You could hear mmm and other approval noises coming from everyone. “This is so good!” the little girl’s mother exclaimed. Her daddy said “Yes! It’s excellent!” His daddy said “honey, I didn’t know you had this skill to make such delicious desserts!” His wife said with a wink, “yes honey there are still some things that you don’t know about me.” He just grinned at her. The little kids had whipped cream on their cheeks, and were scooping it off their plates with their fingers and you could hear the loud smacking noises when they sucked their fingers clean.
The Stranger said, before I go, I have one more surprise. He turned to the little girl and he says “it’s for you honey”. “For me”? “Yes, for you. I want you to go to the back porch”, “here at this house” she asked? “Yes. Go to the back porch and turn to your right”. So everybody went through the living room to the back porch door. The Little Boy turned on the light and the little girl opened the door, then the screen door and turned to her right. It was a bicycle! And it looked just like the little boys! With a banana seat and everything! Except hers was pink and purple and green. Her favorite colors! Streamers on the handlebars a bigger basket on the front than the little boys bike has. And a headlight! The little boy said, how come mine doesn’t have a headlight? And the stranger said “Oh, but it does!” He went to the front of the bike and pulled it up. It locked into place. “You see, when you’re not using it it turns down and tucks under, when you want to use it, you just pull it up and it turns on!” ‘Oh!, thank you!!’ said The Little Boy. “My pleasure” said the stranger and he smiled.
“Well folks I’m going to be leaving now. Thank you so much for your hospitality. The dinner was wonderful and the dessert was scrumptious!” The Little Boy’s Mama said, “Thanks to you and your recipe! Since so much is going on in town, will you be back tomorrow? The stranger said “Yes I’ll be in and out. I’ll be around town.” The parents of the little girl said “We need to be going to, thank you so much for the wonderful news and the wonderful dessert.” The Little Girl’s daddy picked her up and they all walked to the door and went outside. Everyone waved goodbye to each other and the Little Boy’s Mama and Daddy closed the door. Going into the kitchen the Little Boy’s Mama said to him, “Honey you go upstairs and take a bath, your Daddy and I are going to clean up.” ‘Ok Mama. Then I’ll get my pj’s on and you and Daddy will tuck me in?’ “Of course we will! We always do! Not everything has changed sweetheart.”
As The Little Boy went upstairs, his mama followed him and drew a bath, making sure it wasn’t too hot and he had all his favorite toys. Then she went downstairs. The little boy got in the bathtub. She said to her husband “Honey, there’s something here that the stranger gave us. He said it’s for both of us. It’s in this bag.” She showed him the bag with the pretty tissue paper coming out of the top. I wanted to have you open it because so much has been happening that I wanted to make sure that you had a surprise as well. I didn’t know that you were meeting with the foreman. But this is a surprise between you and I. And I’d like you to open it.” Have you seen what it is”? he asked. ” did the stranger tell you what it was”?
“No he didn’t tell me and I don’t know what it is.” Her husband said, “Let’s wait until our boy is in bed, and let’s take this to our bedroom and open it there.” “That sounds like a good idea honey.” So they got the rest of the kitchen cleaned up. They heard the water draining out of the tub just as they were finishing up. They picked up the living room and went upstairs. They kissed the little boy and made sure he said his prayers. The little boy said, “Mama? Daddy? It’s been a pretty exciting month hasn’t it been?” His parents said “yes go to sleep and get a good night’s rest. We’ll see you in the morning”. “Goodnight Mama, goodnight Daddy.” “Good night son.”
They went to their room. The Little Boy turned over in bed and saw the blue shaft of light coming through his window. He looked at the foot of the bed to see if he could see an outline of an angel wing. He couldn’t. But he felt like there was an angel there and it was very comforting. So he closed his eyes and went to sleep. In his parents bedroom, both of them sat on the bed with the bag between them. “I wonder what’s in it,” he said. “I don’t know,” his wife whispered back. “Let’s open it and see.”