On Monday, I attended a Juneteenth celebration in Fort Worth in the sweltering Texas heat with four Alaska nieces and nephews. The vibrant celebration and march with Opal Lee at 96 years of age was historic. However, with so many people, it was boiling with the harsh sun. Eager to return to the refuge of the AC in our car and eventually back home, our desperate longing was rudely interrupted when we discovered a flat tire when we reached our car. Frustrated, I contacted AAA, only to learn that assistance wouldn’t arrive for another grueling 1.5 hours. This news was disheartening, especially considering the scorching heat, with temperatures soaring into the 90s. Inside the car, the air conditioning struggled to keep up, intensifying the discomfort and exacerbating the squabbles between the restless kids.

Desperate for a solution, I quickly searched for the nearest gas station equipped with an air pump, and to my relief, it was less than a mile away. Determined, I contemplated whether I could safely drive to the station. However, after moving a mere 50 feet, it became clear that further car movement would result in irreparable damage to the rim. I reluctantly reached out to AAA again, pleading with them to expedite assistance, emphasizing the presence of children.

As I surveyed our surroundings, I noticed the homeowner whose curb we had parked sitting on their porch. I decided to approach them, asking if the kids could seek refuge from the sweltering heat under their shaded patio. With warm smiles and open arms, three incredible black women eagerly welcomed us. Despite the heat, a slight breeze danced through the air, and their fan whirred energetically, creating a sanctuary from the scorching sun. They had a cooler brimming with ice-cold water, which they graciously offered. We gratefully accepted their hospitality, feeling profound gratitude for their kindness.

Eventually, our tire was fixed. I offered $20 for the water, but the women refused, further exemplifying their genuine generosity. The next day, the children and I decided to express our profound gratitude. We presented these remarkable women with three pieces of Tongan – Polynesian art, ngatu (tapa), carefully cut and thoughtfully chosen to convey our thanks. This encounter left an unforgettable mark on our hearts, teaching us invaluable lessons.

Firstly, I learned that true hospitality cannot be bought or quantified; it is a genuine expression of compassion and empathy. Secondly, what initially seemed like an unfortunate situation transformed into a profoundly positive experience, reminding us of the potential for unexpected blessings even in the face of adversity. Lastly, I couldn’t help but view this encounter as a divine intervention, a moment guided by a higher power – God. It was as if the movement of our car led us precisely to the doorstep of these three angelic souls, who were more than willing to extend hospitality.

Undoubtedly, this unexpected encounter became the highlight of our day. Our hearts overflowed with gratitude for the kindness and compassion shown to us by these beautiful ladies, Dorothy, Rhonda, and Reagan.

Malō’ aupito! ‘Ofa lahi atu! Thank you, Jesus!

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