This is a story about a single mother (myself) her two kids, one day that changed everything, and a Van named Victory. Where do I begin? Well, what better place than at the beginning.
Just finding my footing in my faith, I decided to dive all in and it was amazing! On September 18th, 2016, after an interesting series of events, I found myself seeking a passion that would invoke something within. I was tired of running on autopilot and honestly felt guided in this direction, almost as if I had no control over it at all.
I had not been to a church service in almost eight years, and I was filled with nothing but nerves. My daughter, seven at the time, was completely elated and my son, 18-months old, was gripping my shirt as tight as he could not really sure what was happening but sensing my nerves I’m sure.
As soon as those doors swung open, I was greeted by the sweetest face and most genuine smile. I had never seen this woman before in my life, but she immediately embraced me. I felt like I had known her for years. She softly whispered in my ear
“So glad you could make it”
I truly felt her sincerity in this statement, that she was indeed glad that I was there. That instantly put my mind and nerves at ease. Now, the hard part was over and it was time to sit and receive what I knew had been missing from my life for many years. It was a service that I will always remember. I had never understood how people could weep in church before, until that day. Reflecting back, I’m not sure I have made it through any service since without a tear falling, or a thousand.
During this same time in my life, while receiving this message that felt so right, everything else was seemingly going oh-so-wrong. I had recently left a career behind for many reasons, all valid but terrifying none the less, when you are a single mother to two kids. I was also dealing with the fact that my car’s engine blew just a week later, which was still being paid for. Thus, causing the entire loan to turn upside down, and me with no income to come to any solution other than to just have faith.
Diligent in pursuing my faith, I still attended church every Sunday and have been blessed with an amazing Dad that allowed me to take his car every week to ensure that the kids and I could get there. However, our church is 30 miles away, and we would, of course, attend any events after, visit with some of the other members, and wouldn’t be home until late in the afternoon or early evening. This was leaving my Dad without a vehicle for an entire day on one of his two days off.
However, he insisted it was no problem, and I insisted that I believed him and continued to just have faith. Moving forward a couple of months, me and my daughter both decided that we wanted to be baptized, and what a blessing to be able to do it together. Another day I will always remember.
It was a nerve-wracking day, I have a pretty big fear of water, in enclosed small spaces especially, so my nerves were again worked up. However, right on cue, like clockwork, there was Ms. Mandy to ensure me all was well, as she hugged me and again whispered
“Glad you could make it.”
As always, I truly felt she meant it. I am still so proud of myself and my daughter for taking that step in our faith, and me overcoming a big fear of mine to accomplish this symbolic, and very powerful, gesture.
After service, the church was filled with more buzz than usual, as there was a full house due to the baptisms, and all the additional friends and family attended in showing their support. I was just finishing up speaking with my Dad, who attended that day with us when I saw yet another truly genuine smile approach me.
It was Josh, Ms. Mandy’s Husband, who is just as kind and giving as her. Truly a match made in Heaven. He first and foremost told me
He then proceeded to ask me if I had figured out anything with my vehicle. I told him that based on the estimates for repair, miles on the vehicle, as well as the amount I still owed the finance company, I decided to self-surrender the vehicle just a couple of days prior to him asking. He then said something that I think left me speechless for the first time in my life –
“Me and Mandy have a van, and we want you to have it”
I would give just about anything to be able to see the look on my face when those words came out of his mouth. I think it had to have been one of disbelief, and the pause I took seemed to last forever. I was already very emotional that day from the baptism and thought maybe I didn’t hear that correctly, and I glanced over to my pastor and she just smiled. They all knew, and they all just nodded in reassurance that yes, I heard him correctly.
Josh went on to tell me all the little quirks that the van had, and with each one, I just smiled bigger. After everything I had gone through, it was so nice to know that I had a vehicle to have squeaks here and there, and heat that was a little touchy on one side. There was not one thing he could have said about that van that would have taken that smile off of my face.
I was on cloud nine! Not only because I now had a vehicle to get me and my kids around again, but because my eyes were opened to the fact that genuine, loving, and kind people do still exist in this world, and I was blessed enough to have crossed paths with two of them. In the last place, I would have expected to find myself just six months ago.
I still get tears in my eyes when I think about the kindness that these two have in their hearts, and how much it changed so many things for me, especially my view of people. After being pushed away, cast aside and having my heart taken advantage of so many times before, I had begun to grow cold and put up an emotional wall. With that gesture alone, they opened my eyes and my heart again and restored my faith in humanity.
On the first drive home in our new van, my daughter looked at me and said
“I like being mini-van people, it’s so big!”
She then put on her favorite song, 1,2,3 Victory by Kirk Franklin and listened to it for the entire 30-minute ride home. By the time we pulled up in our new van, gifted by the goodness and love of the Lord, through Mandy and Josh, our van had a name, Victory.
Every morning that I start her up, I am reminded that good people still exist, and an act of kindness can change somebody’s life forever. The world can be a noisy and hectic place, but you’ve just got to push past all the noise and chaos and be determined to find the peace because it’s still there, sometimes in the places you’d least expect to be.
– Hollie Jenkins