Category Archives: RELIGION

Thank God for the sign


By Michael Quinn

REELSBORO – As we emerge from a season when, typically, we humans are more as we should be, I thank this newspaper for the opportunity to share my recent experience.

“I swear, the best thing to come out of our having that property is the sign.” If my wife has heard me say that once, she’s heard me say it . . . well, maybe not a thousand times, but quite a few. I can’t help but smile while I lament the journey of small business ownership. Ours has to do with the property over in Reelsboro on the corner of Hwy. 55 and Chair Road. It seems as long as we’ve had it, we’ve been trying to figure out just, exactly, what He wants us to do with it.

The piece of commercial real estate has chewed up several businesses since its heyday as a convenience store. In recent years, it’s been Hurricane Power Sports, Dr. Quest Video, even a pizza joint. But, nothing has seemed to do what we believe it was meant to do. We’ve considered several things from a church to a community park. Plenty of the local folks have approached us with ideas including a school, a bar, an Internet gambling joint, a bike shop (motorcycles) — one of my favorites — and of, course, there’s always the food establishments. But, really, the best thing so far has been that dang sign out front!

The property is, currently, undergoing renovations for what we believe will TRANSFORM the corner! More on that later! A while back, we made a decision to put something more on the board than just the price of a cheap ATV or scooter. We wanted to say something to a community that was doing its best to try and support our efforts as a small business. We wanted to say something positive, perhaps, provide some good news.

So, we decided to start putting up food for thought — at least, that’s what I call it. The messages are anything from family birth announcements to Biblical references, some funny, some not so, but always delivered with a positive intent. And, of course, as you may have experienced if you read the sign, when a good wind comes up — as it often does — some of the letters disappear and the message turns into a game of Wheel of Fortune! May I buy a vowel? But, I was remembering a time when I considered stopping the messages. And, that’s what I’d like to share.

We had been putting up messages for a couple of years and I had just put up a new message on a cold, COLD December morning. It was raining BIG drops for that time of the year and I was scooting back across the parking lot, ladder in tow, trying to get out of the weather. I remember questioning why I was still doing it? Really! Who was reading the sign anyway, driving by at 55 mph, busy heading to work or busy heading home or just plain busy? But that’s when I received my own sign.

I have to laugh as I write, because I remember hearing it, but I saw the old grey Pontiac — front bumper pushed into a frown, muffler dragging in its britches, and the windows all in a fog because the defrost wasn’t defrosting. Anyway, the car sounded like it was going to lose that bumper as it crossed over from 55 into our parking lot. I remember turning to see a gloved hand waving away a clear spot in the windshield as the car pulled straight for me.

Great, I thought, I’m wet and cold (FREEZING) and now somebody wants directions. Who would have imagined that the driver of that God-forsaken car was the one offering direction? The vehicle pulled up right next to me and the fogged-over window rolled down to reveal a young woman I had never seen before (or since). She had been crying and it took her a minute to speak. And, here I am thinkin’ look whoever you are, I don’t even have five bucks in my pocket so don’t bother asking and I’m sure not buying anything you’re sellin’!

All kinds of negative thoughts started going through my head, but none of them were even remote to what she had to offer: “I just had to tell you,” she started, then paused, wiped a fuzzy brown glove across her nose and tried to gain a little more control, “I just had to you . . . your messages . . . they mean a lot.”

I raised my eyebrows, stepped back a bit, and unconscientiously glanced over at the sign I’d just put up, then back to the young woman. No one had ever said anything about the messages before; no one. So, all of the sudden, I felt myself trying to make sense out of what she was saying. She wasn’t asking for money. She wasn’t trying to sell me any dope — an offer that has come up several times in the past. She was simply stopping to share a kindness. And, I didn’t know how to respond to a kindness with my head so full of negative.

Eventually and awkwardly, I choked out a thank you. But she fired back, “No, you don’t understand!” She almost shouted. “Your messages . . . I wanted to . . . I wanted to . . . but, I read your message that morning and I couldn’t,” she paused, again, and it was in that moment, in that silence, I realized what she was trying to confess. Again, I didn’t know how to respond. I wasn’t sure what to say; the profundity of her statement was still sinking in.

All I could do was smile another awkward smile and, again, I thanked her. But then, I reached out to her, I reached my hand into the window and she grabbed hold and pulled it close and it was hard not to weep with her. She leaned her head toward my hand and the moment seemed slow and winding and I didn’t feel the rain and I wasn’t cold anymore and the compassion for this human grabbed hold of my throat and didn’t let go.

But, then, we awoke and she let go of my hand and just like that, she drove off, out of the parking lot, back onto Hwy. 55 and she was gone. Just like that. And, I stood there, staring at a moment that wasn’t anymore and thinking about her words, thinking about her message.

And, all I could do was thank God for the sign.

Haiti visit ‘amazing’

Hattie Harrell, left, and Melanie Campen with their young prayer partners at St. Joseph Home for Boys in Haiti.

Hattie Harrell, left, and Melanie Campen with their young prayer partners at St. Joseph Home for Boys in Haiti.

By Hattie Harrell and Melanie Campen | Special to the County Compass


Hattie Harrell:

We have been having a good time. We have been amazed at what we have witnessed. Please find attached a photo of us with our young prayer partners Wednesday night at St. Joseph’s Home for Boys.

Yesterday (Feb. 4) we visited Mother Teresa Missionary of Charity for the Destitute and Dying. We were not allowed to take photos but we showed love and Christ through the power of touch. We massaged and polished toenails and fingernails.

Today (Feb. 5) we visited the Blanchard school located in City de Soleil, which is the slum area in Port Au Prince. We visited the classrooms and did an art project and helped serve lunch. Many smiling faces today.

Hattie Harrell is surrounded by youngsters at the Blanchard school, located in a slum of the capital city.

Hattie Harrell is surrounded by youngsters at the Blanchard school, located in a slum of the capital city.

We are enjoying ourselves and Haiti is not what everyone seems to think it is. This home where we are staying is great and really safe and the boys are awesome and there is so much love.

Melanie Campen:

We are very excited to be going on this trip. This program is well established and being with ladies who have been numerous times, their experience is priceless to have.

Some of my research papers in graduate school covered public health in poor countries, so I feel I know a little of what to expect and what we are seeing.

We will be keeping a journal daily, and I will let the newspaper copy that when we return.