Rain and cold made it a miserable weekend for a garage sale. But I pressed on anyway with our “Pay what you want” garage sale to raise money for mine and my daughter’s mission trip to Ecuador. I was a bit worried nobody would show up to shop. And I was also concerned with how people might respond to paying whatever they desired. It was entirely possible to empty the garage and only have $10 to show for all my effort.
Throughout the two days of the sale, there was a steady stream of people. Some paid much less than what some items were worth but most paid more than I would have asked.
Throughout the two days, as I huddled near a space heater, I sat amazed at the generosity.
One family came in and the mom explained to her children they could choose their own price and the money would be going toward a mission trip to Ecuador where little kids would be helped. Her four children, ranging in ages 4-9, brought their own money to spend. Choosing small toys, without any prompting from their mom, each gave generously because they wanted to “help the kids in Ecuador.”
One woman came in, looked around, read the sign about the trip, and began talking with me. She shared she and her husband would soon become missionaries to Papua, New Guinea. We had a nice visit and at the end of our conversation, she handed me $20. She bought nothing but simply wanted to support our mission trip.
The sale was surprising on another level also. Throughout the two days, items I thought would be popular were still on the tables and racks. Due to friends donating merchandise to the garage sale, there were many cute girls and boys clothes, baby clothes, and shoes for boys and girls, none of which were selling. It was baffling.
I had so much left when it was time to wind down the garage sale at 1:00 on Saturday, I chose to make all remaining items free. It was a bit selfish on my part because it would save us from having to cart all of it somewhere to donate. However, I prayed people would come in that had a need and would be blessed by whatever they took.
An older couple came in and were completely shocked to hear everything was free. The husband and I visited as the woman filled bags with toys and clothes for their grandchildren.
In talking with this gentleman, I discovered he lost his parents at a young age so he and his brothers grew up in an orphanage. As we talked, another couple came in. When I explained everything was free, the woman became extremely excited. She was like a kid in a candy store, filling bags as fast as possible.
As the woman worked, she shared she was from the Philippines. She married an American and moved to the States but her family still lived overseas. She went on to tell how the flooding in the Philippines had taken everything from her family and their entire community. Many kids run around in their underwear because they have no clothes. To help, this couple looks for clothes and sends as many packages to the Philippines as possible. The woman works at a second-hand store because they allow her to take the items that don’t sell so she may send them overseas.
This couple had come to our neighborhood garage sales hoping they could find some good deals on clothes. I told them their timing was a God-thing. I explained I had prayed all the items at our garage sale would be a blessing to those receiving them. I also shared how most of the clothes and shoes had failed to sell and I could not understand it until that moment. All those items were meant for this couple.
We filled the back of their truck with clothes and shoes that would soon be headed for the Philippines. They thanked me profusely. I waved them off telling them they had blessed me way more than I blessed them. When I walked back in the garage, the man I had been visiting with before looked at me and said, “That was beautiful. Growing up as an orphan, I can’t tell you how much that scene touched me. I used to love it when the Lutheran truck would roll into the orphanage because I knew I would be getting some new-to-me clothes.” He then opened his wallet and gave me what was left, $20.
Two women came in as the man and I talked. Hearing us discuss the couple sending clothes to the Philippines and about our mission trip to Ecuador, one of the women walked over and handed me $20.
There are some truly wonderful people in this world. So when world news discourages, criticism crushes, or daily life overwhelms, look past the bad. You will always find people who are willing to display incredible generosity, astounding kindness, and impressive courage. They not only encourage us but they make us feel as if everything is going to be okay.
And by the way, our garage sale was a success and brought us within $200 of our mission trip goal.
Does God shop at garage sales? He may not shop but He certainly shows up.
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©2013 Connie Davis Johnson