Everything is Going to Be Okay

Yesterday, my phone was lost at Carowinds, along with my ID, credit cards, etc.
We checked with guest services, and no phone had been turned in. We retraced our steps and there was no phone anywhere we had been.
The last time that we saw it was when Mia and I had met a Hispanic couple who didn’t speak much English with their young daughter who was clearly enjoying the new experience of walking. But it took us a while to figure out that last moment with the phone when we discovered it missing at least an hour later.
I had work to do in Charlotte last night that would require me to have my ID in order to get into the data center. I also had work to do last night that I wouldn’t be able to do without my phone which has my MFA authenticator set up. I was calm throughout the ordeal, because we can cancel cards and file an insurance claim with Verizon for a lost/stolen phone — but the emotion of it all was too much for Mia (my 10 year old daughter). She was afraid, she was hurt, she was disappointed, and she broke down crying right there in the middle of Carowinds. So I just held her and told her that everything was going to be okay. She is a lot like her mommy, and doesn’t like it when things don’t go to plan. I’m “the spontaneous one”.
I reassured her that we were okay. And let her know that we still had the gift card that I had received from my employer for getting vaccinated that I had promised her she could use to buy herself something. I had promised her that in trade for going to the data center with me after Carowinds to get my work done. She didn’t want to use it to buy the stuffed animal that she had been excited about all afternoon because she knew that it was all the money that we had right then. But I reassured her and then finally insisted to help her break through her fear of the circumstances.
As we left the park to drive 2 hours home, I told her that I was confident there was a reason this happened and it wouldn’t be a bad thing — but sometimes we figure out the why and sometimes we might have to wait until “the after” to find out the why.
As we were driving home, Mandee was able to get my card canceled and confirm it hadn’t been used. As soon as I got home, I was able to use Samsung to track my phone, put it in battery saving mode, and turn on the ringer. We called it again this time, and since the ringer was now turned on, we heard a voice answer in broken English. He said “Hi, you remember my daughter?” in his best English. It was the kind Hispanic man we had met. We immediately arranged a meet up at his home in Gastonia and he gave me the address and his phone number as best we could communicate with each other, since the park was closing at this point.
As he drove home from Carowinds, I drove back from Campobello, SC to his home in Gastonia, NC to meet him there. He wanted to be sure to let us know that everything is there, and almost had some of the same fear I saw in my daughter earlier as he didn’t want to take the reward that I was offering him. But I said, “You have blessed me today. Please use this for your daughter and let me bless you in return.” I could understand how his broken English and being in a “foreign land” could probably leave him fearful and untrusting of a white man, or of authority, or of situations that might be misunderstood and put him and his family at risk. But after much insistence on my part, he accepted and I told him that I hope the Lord blessed him greatly for blessing me today.
I could have looked at the situation and thought the worst of this man. I could have reacted in anger and judgement and accused him of stealing since he didn’t turn the phone in. I could have used the tracking information as evidence and involved the police, and there may have been enough evidence to cause this man a lot of trouble and pain. I don’t know the true intentions of his heart, but I chose to use this as an opportunity to see a good neighbor and be a good neighbor. Someone will call this naive — but I’ve met too many inside the cell block to want to see someone go there without giving them the full benefit of the doubt and an opportunity to see love, grace and mercy in action.
And I returned to Charlotte by myself to complete my planned work, and my daughter didn’t even have to sit through it with me. Since I worked quite late, I stayed in a hotel here in Charlotte, and I got to sleep in this morning at the hotel instead of having to get up and take the dogs out early in the morning. And we will get to repay Mia for her generosity yesterday (letting us use that gift card to cover necessities until we had access to our bank account again).
Plenty of things yesterday “went wrong” if I’m measuring them by what I expected to happen — but I am grateful that my daughter saw several examples of peace and faith today. I probably still fell short of how she would envision a perfect daddy behaving yesterday, but she’s learning through all of this to show me grace too.
It just really touched my heart, so I wanted to share.
God bless!

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