by Susan Rosselli
The winter of 2001 was cold in northern Indiana, often sub-zero. The newspaper said it was the coldest, snowiest winter on record. Having spent three days digging out our comatose vehicle, I could believe it.
Our family had arrived three months earlier in a travel trailer that had been our home since the summer. After we lost our jobs, my husband and I, with our then 9-year-old daughter, had set out for wherever God might lead us. We ended up in Indiana, in a truck yard, by virtue of breaking down.
Our reserves, including the penny collection in the coffee can, were gone. My husband had used the last of our money to go to New York to be with his mother, who was dying of lung cancer.
I had been looking for work. But being snowed in with no working vehicle and no phone had not helped my prospects. My daughter, Alyssa, and I wore our coats all the time. I’d been frugal with our propane, which kept us warm, but the inevitable day came when it was simply gone. So was our food. In my heart, I felt that my daughter and I would probably die that night, of hypothermia.
When we were ready to go to sleep, I told Alyssa she’d be sleeping with me. I had her put on all her clothes, and I did the same. I piled our blankets, towels, and spreads on top of us. As I took my child in my arms, I prayed: “Lord Jesus, You know what is happening. Thank You for the blankets, the towels, and our shelter. My husband is far away, and I can’t contact him. Dear Lord, if my daughter and I are to die tonight and go to be with You, that’s O.K. I have just this request: If You are going to take us, please take us together. I cannot bear the thought of my child finding herself all alone here if I should go without her, and I don’t feel I have the strength to handle losing her and remaining behind either. But we love You, Lord. Your will be done.” With my daughter’s quiet breathing at my side, I fell asleep.
Morning came, and we were still here. Once we were up, it came to me. The Lord had kept us alive for a reason. We had to get somewhere to keep warm. “Lissie,” I said, “we’re going to pray over the car.” The car had not run for weeks.
We prayed. We got in. I turned the key. It started. I drove to a Laundromat, where we could be warm. After a while, Alyssa told me she was hungry. “I know, honey,” I said. “We’ll eat soon.” I had absolutely no idea when. A little while later she told me again—and then again. I began losing heart. “Lord, this is the United States of America,” I prayed. “I never dreamed I’d find myself with a hungry child and nothing to give her. Please, please, show me what to do.”
The words had scarcely left my lips when a young woman approached me. “Ma’am,” she said, “Me and my friend bought pizza, and we got too much to finish. Can we give it to your little girl?”
“Yes, thank you,” I murmured. There were four slices. Alyssa did not go hungry, and neither did I.
After that, things slowly picked up. I got some work. Our old church in New York paid my hus-band’s way home. His mother died, but she had been eager to meet her Lord. Our new church found us a house, and our lives became more stable. But I will never forget that night when there seemed no hope but for the knowledge that God hears, God cares, God moves. I will never forget we are together today only because of the love of Jesus, and I am forever grateful.