So, I put my life in the hands of the Lord who I had learned to trust and chose to hitch-hike out of Dallas and headed North for no particular reason. It was hot that day, July 1, but there was lots of traffic and I looked like a fairly responsible citizen. I was wearing blue jeans, a tee shirt, loafers (bad choice) and carrying my Bible. Along came a nice car, a friendly driver and had no problem stopping for me. "How far are you going?" and without a thought about it, "Springfield, Missouri" was my answer. We began chatting about the weather and other things we had in common until he came to a Howard Johnson's restaurant. "Care to join me?" he asked, but I declined, saying that I needed to get on my way. But when I noticed that he had met someone there, I headed for the lunch counter and ordered a cup of coffee. Little did I realize that they charged $1.75 a cup and when I counted up the change I had in my pocket, I had $1.96. Enough to a tip I thought and hurried back to the highway. I also realized I had no money in my wallet. There was money in the bank, not much, but I had forgotten about it.
To be honest, I did think about going back and getting some money, but decided that if I was really "on the road" for my Lord, He was going to have to meet my financial needs as well.
My next "ride" still lingers in my mind. An old pick-up stopped and I saw three Latinos in the cab, but they offered me a ride - in the bed of the truck, along with a load of fresh tomatoes and a six pack of beer. After an hour or so, I realized I was hungry and helped myself to one of the tomatoes and then, another and since it was as delicious as the first, I helped myself to more. Also, since there was a beer right there, I helped myself to one of those as well. Night fell and I sort of dozed off, when the truck stopped. They got out of the cab, cursing as they opened the hood and paying no real attention to me when I saw other cars passing by. I decided it was best for me to catch another ride, so I headed down the highway, hoping they would not notice the missing beer and accuse me of stealing it - which, of course, I had. Fortunately for me, I was able to hail a semi-truck about to pass me by and I had a ride to the next truck stop. "Get yourself something to eat," he said, "and I'll see if I can find another driver who could take you to Springfield". He left and I was sitting at the counter, nursing a glass of water, when the waitress appeared with a plate of food and a milk shake. "I didn't order this," I said, but she told me that a driver had and that he had paid for it. As I was about to "give thanks" I noticed his truck head out of the driveway and leave. "Thank you, Lord, for my ride, my meal and the privilege of meeting one of your Saints along the way."
I was able to find another truck headed North and he took me to the Interstate which led me to Springfield. Along came another ride that was going my way and as it turned out, he was a Minister and I shared my reasons for my journey. Well, after we had talked for awhile, he told me he was going to drop me off at a place where I could get a good night's sleep and it was near a Labor office where I might find a job. As I got out of his car, he handed me a tract from his church and offered to get me a ride if I decided to stay in Springfield. When I got to my room, I opened the tract and a $50 bill dropped out.
I was awake at 5AM the next morning and I was standing in the doorway of the Labor office when it opened. Sure enough, I had a job, with another guy who claimed he "hated" the church, so we spent an interesting day. He knew of a local Mission where we could stay at night and since we were told to come back to the job the next day, we headed that way. I happened to see a used clothing store and headed there as I had picked the wrong shoes to work in, I needed "work" shoes, not loafers.
When I got to the Mission, my new friend was not there, but I did get a meal and learned there were no beds available. There was an older hotel nearby, so I found a room there. I was tired and went to bed early. About 2AM, I was awakened by someone knocking on my door and discovered it was the guy I had worked with the day before. He was drunk, had some food he had brought for me and let me know he was going to sleep there, in my bed. No way, but he insisted and all I could think of was to rebuke him as I had seen in some of the churches I had attended in other places. Laying my hands on his head and calling upon God to deliver me from this situation, I was startled to hear the window break and the guy passed out on the floor. Some say it was his "demons" that broke that window. I don't know. What I did know was that I had to pay for that window and fortunately, I could.
I discovered there was a bus station nearby and it was open, so I headed for it and bought a ticket to Kansas City to get away from that experience. I got there early the next morning, found a Labor office, registered and sat there, all day long. No job today, no hope for a job tomorrow. I found a Mission and was about to learn a valuable lesson about "life" of the streets. It seemed like a nice place. You had to hear a sermon before you could eat and I will never forget the title they chose. "He who the Son sets free, is free indeed." I liked that. It seemed like confirmation that I was on the tight track. The "supper" was something else. They called it "gruel" (or something like that) and it was nothing but a couple of pieces of carrots, a meat bone and hot water. I was lucky. I got one of the carrots.
Then, it was downstairs to our beds and there was a rush to get there, for some reason. One of the guys ran into me and knocked me down, catching my shin against the edge of a stair step. There was some blood, but nothing bad, so I found the last available bed, an upper, and I was OK until they closed the door behind us and - locked it! Before they shut out the light, I noticed the only window in the place and that I was the only white guy. Their race didn't bother me, but I began to wonder what we could do if the place caught on fire. I didn't stand a chance of surviving, but then, neither did the the others. You can believe that I did not get much sleep that night and I also realized, my leg had begun to swell.