The Twain Mile


It was a typical hot Maryland summer  evening when I pulled into the church parking lot around 6 o’clock.  To my surprise there were about a dozen men camped out on the church lawn. They were a pitiful sight! Ragged, sweaty, and looking bewildered! As I got out of my car, I was approached by one of them who started to talk to me in broken English. I couldn’t understand much of what he was saying so I explained to him that I spoke Spanish. A smile came to his face. He relaxed and started to explain to me in Spanish that he and his friends were on their way from Florida to New York by car. But the car had broken down on Interstate 95, not too far south of the church building. Some kind motorist had stopped and offered to help. I don’t remember all the particulars, but I do know that they were all transported to the church. They had been dropped off at the  building at ten o’clock that morning and had been waiting ever since. They desperately wanted help. They had no food, no money, and no transportation. I don’t even remember what eventually happened to their car! But I do know that it never got them to New York.

I asked them a lot of questions. I was trying to figure out what to do when my counselors arrived. We spent the next several hours trying to help these weary travelers. What to do? How to house them and how to get them to New York? I must admit that, during the whole process of handling their problems, some frustration began to creep into my heart. I had not planned on doing this for the evening. Sunset came and darkness was upon us. Eventually, I arranged with a local hotel to house them and had one of my counselors go out and buy them bus tickets to New York. My counselors and I drove them to the motel, which was a short distance from the bus depot. They were grateful! As it was now well past eleven in the evening, my counselors bid their farewell and left. I stayed a few minutes longer to make sure all was well. I stood at the doorway ready to leave when one man came up to me and said, “Muchas Gracias!”  I was tired and ready to go home. I smiled and said, “Hasta Luego, suerte”. (“Good-bye and good luck”) Just as I started out the door I heard one of them say to another, “Tango hombre!” (I’m hungry). I had heard it but I was tired. I closed the door and walked to my car in the parking lot. In my mind I said, “I spent hours helping these guys. I’ve arranged for accommodations and transportation to New York. I’m worn out and I want to go home. They will be all right! I started my car up and headed out down the road. In the back of my mind I kept hearing the words of the Savior,

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)

I argued in my mind that I “had done it unto the least.”  But then a second thought;

“And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.” (Matthew 5:41)

I didn’t drive too far before I turned around and headed back to the nearest McDonald’s. I bought an abundance of fries, hamburgers, pies and drinks. I knocked on the door of the motel room. When the door opened and the men saw me with my hands full of food, their eyes lit up as they said, “Muchas gracias Obispo!”

Now, all these years later, I have never forgotten the look on their faces when I came back with the food. I had done my “duty” as a priesthood leader of the church by providing the motel and transportation to New York. The church even paid for it. But the real satisfaction I have savored through the years was going the extra mile.  The “twain mile” has presented itself often during the course of my life,  and many times I have not walked it. But that night, I did, and the memory is much the sweeter for it!


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