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Encouragement

This section will contain materials which we hope will encourage us all - please feel free to contribute.

Freedom is not free

As I came out of the supermarket that sunny day, pushing my cart of groceries towards my car, I saw an old man with the bonnet of his car up and a lady sitting inside the car, with the door open.

The old man was looking at the engine.

I put my groceries away in my car, and continued to watch the old gentleman from about twenty five feet away.

I saw a young man in his early twenties with a grocery bag in his arm walking towards the old man. The old gentleman saw him coming too, and took a few steps towards him.

I saw the old gentleman point to his open bonnet and say something. The young man put his grocery bag into what looked like a brand new Cadillac Escalade. He then turned back to the old man. I heard him yell at the old gentleman saying:"You shouldn't even be allowed to drive a car at your age." And then with a wave of his hand, he got in his car and peeled rubber out of the parking lot.

I saw the old gentleman pull out his handkerchief, and mop his brow as he went back to his car and again looked at the engine. He then went to his wife and spoke with her; he appeared to tell her it would be okay.

I had seen enough, and I approached the old man.

He saw me coming and stood straight, and as I got near him I said, 'Looks like you're having a problem.'

He smiled sheepishly, and quietly nodded his head. I looked under the bonnet myself, and knew that whatever the problem was, it was beyond me.

Looking around, I saw a petrol station up the road, and I told the old man that I would be right back. I drove to the station and I went inside. I saw three attendants working on cars. I approached one of them, and related the problem the old man had with his car. I offered to pay them if they could follow me back down and help him.

The old man had pushed the heavy car under the shade of a tree and appeared to be comforting his wife. When he saw us he straightened up and thanked me for my help. As the mechanics diagnosed the problem (overheated engine), I spoke with the old gentleman.

When I shook hands with him earlier, he had noticed my Marine Corps ring and had commented about it, telling me that he had been a Marine too. I nodded and asked the usual question, 'What outfit did you serve with?'

He had mentioned that he served with the first Marine Division at Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal ...

He had hit all the big ones and retired from the Corps after the war was over. As we talked we heard the car engine come on and saw the mechanics lower the bonnet. They came over to us as the old man reached for his wallet, but was stopped by me. I told him I would just put the bill on my credit card.

He still reached for the wallet and handed me a card that I assumed had his name and address on it and I stuck it in my pocket. We shook hands all around again, and I said my goodbye's to his wife.

I then told the two mechanics that I would follow them back up to the station. Once at the station, I told them that they had interrupted their own jobs to come along with me and help the old man. I said I wanted to pay for the help, but they refused to charge me.

One of them pulled out a card from his pocket, looking exactly like the card the old man had given to me. Both of the men told me then that they were Marine Corps Reserves. Once again we shook hands all around and as I was leaving, one of them told me I should look at the card the old man had given to me. I said I would and drove off.

For some reason I had gone about two blocks, when I pulled over and took the card out of my pocket and looked at it for a long, long time. The name of the old gentleman was on the card in golden leaf and under his name was written:'Congressional Medal of Honor Society.' (This medal is the American equivalent of our Victoria Cross - and is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. Generally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress.)

I sat there motionless, looking at the card and reading it over and over. I looked up from the card and smiled to no one but myself and marveled that on this day, four Marines had all come together because one of us needed help. He was an old man all right, but it felt good to have stood next to greatness and courage, and an honor to have been in his presence.

Remember,OLD men like him gave our FREEDOM for America . Thanks to those who served and still serve, and to all of those who supported them, and who continue to support them.

Remember, Freedom IS NOT free. Thousands have paid the price, so you can enjoy what you have today.

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Who's packing your parachute?

Charles Plumb was a US Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent six years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience!

One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, " You're Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down! "

" How in the world did you know that? " asked Plumb.

" I packed your parachute, " the man replied.

Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude.

The man pumped his hand and said, " I guess it worked! "

Plumb assured him, " It sure did. If your chute hadn't worked, I wouldn't be here today. "

Plumb couldn't sleep that night, thinking about that man.

Plumb says, " I kept wondering what he had looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat; a bib in the back; and bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said 'Good morning, how are you?' or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor. "

Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent at a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn't know.

Now, Plumb asks his audience, " Who's packing your parachute?" Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. He also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory - he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety.

Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may fail to say hello, please, or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason. As you go through this week, this month, this year, recognize people who pack your parachutes.

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From Revealing Jesus: A 365-Day Devotional by Darlene Zschech

When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said goodbye and set out for Macedonia. He travelled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece, where he stayed three months.
Acts chapter 20, verses 1 to 3

Each of us has been uniquely gifted to do what only we can do in this world. But I think that each one of us carries the responsibility and ability to be an encourager to one another. All it takes is a listening ear and a kind word. We don't have to be trained in counselling or have a special way with words. Sometimes words aren't even necessary to offer encouragement. A simple hug can be the most powerfull communication we can deliver to a friend who is discouraged.

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