Last week, our family had the blessed privilege of hosting a complete stranger in our home. I know it sounds crazy, but the opportunity presented itself and something within me wanted so badly to do it. I love people and I knew this man would have some stories to tell. You see, this was no ordinary man.
His name is Jack Fussell and he’s running from Savannah, GA to Monterey, CA to raise support and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Foundation. He’s a 62 year old gentleman with a smile to give everyone he comes across. He is absolutely the happiest person I’ve ever met – and that’s even after running 350 miles in just the few weeks preceding our encounter.
I had high hopes for the evening once I found out it was happening. Chanch laughed at my thoughts of all of us sitting around the dinner table listening to his story. After all, it’s hard enough to get our kids to sit still to eat! And if you know Chanch, he’s not a talker. But Jack made it easy! His personality is infectious.
We found out Jack would be running all morning and would arrive at our house some time around 1:30. All he carries with him fits into a jogging stroller he affectionately calls “Wilson”. I spent his first hour with us frantically trying to pick up the house. That’s what happens when you have unexpected company, right? Poor fella had no idea what he was getting himself into . . . three crazy kids, one jumping dog, a very lived-in house, a quiet man of the house, and a lady who knows without a doubt that hospitality is not her spiritual gift. Jack was quite the sport. He let me pick up shoes, change his sheets, scrub his bathroom, and didn’t seem to mind my rudeness. He was happy to answer all of our many questions and, although I encouraged him to go rest, he seemed to be content with my little family.
My thoughts were that we would offer him a warm bed to sleep in (albeit in a kid’s bed), some hot meals, and a little company if he wanted it. In return, my hope was that we would hear some cool stories and I could work it all into a learning experience for my kids. Jack did not disappoint and he gave us so much more! He was so gracious to want to know our story – to engage our family. He showed a genuine interest in our lives, asking questions of my children; looking at the scrapbook of our RV journey to California; and treating us like family. Unbeknownst to him, he was more influential that he could imagine.
Chanch was a little uneasy at first with the entertaining part. He’s a man of few words until he gets to know someone. But once Jack told him that he used to own his own business in refrigeration, there was plenty to talk about. Throughout the evening I heard Jack pour out wisdom, speaking such truth to Chanch with regard to business. The timing could not have been better. We had been wrestling with recent business decisions, and the conversation he offered seemed to answer our doubts. And he had no idea. Each time he would say something monumental, I wanted to kick Chanch under the table.
And then there was the advice he gave Colby. He began speaking to Colby about the fears that he has to face head on each day during his journey to California. He was so gentle when speaking with Colby about fear and how you have to learn to handle it properly. That even when facing your fears, you’ll still be afraid. But you survive them. You come out on the other side knowing you made it. Better words could not have been spoken to my little Colby who struggles daily with his own anxieties. Again, he did not know.
Jack left us after breakfast the next morning. We were all sad to say goodbye, but none more than me. In a very short time, I grew to absolutely love this stranger on a journey. Words cannot describe the impact he had on my family in the short number of hours he spent as our guest.
But there’s no need to speak of him in the past tense. We will continue our newfound friendship with Jack Fussell for a lifetime, because to know him is to love him.
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers,
for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing.