We've seen him on multiple occasions: around town, at a bus stop, in the park, and he's always alone, with a worried look on his face. Despite my fears, I decided to speak to him the next time I saw him. I don't think I was truly afraid of him, but a bit apprehensive because when we had been in Tucson with our aunts a month before we had seen him at the bus stop and then he appeared here in Wilcox where we don't have any busses!
The next time I saw him was when we were at the park where we had seen him several times before. My seven year old sister Larisa was feeding the ducks by the pond and I saw him walking past us on the path.
"Hello, Sir," I said cheerfully, "It's a fine day!"
"What?" He asked sharply.
"It's a fine day!" I repeated clearly.
He looked around as if seeing everything for the first time.
"Oh. I suppose it is." He said flatly
I studied him carefully. He looked to be about nineteen or twenty years old, just a few years older than me, with light sandy hair and clear blue eyes. I thought he looked as if he believed life weren't worth living any longer. After watching my sister for a moment as she fed a duck a piece of bread, he turned and walked off, his shoulders sagging.
Larisa tossed the duck the rest of the bread. I held out my hand and we started to walk home quickly, knowing that the cows were waiting to be milked.
"Who was that man, and why did he look so worried?" Larisa inquired.
"I don't know,"
"We could cheer him," Larisa said.
"We should ask Evelina, she's good at cheering people!" She declared.
I laughed as we went up the walkway to the house.
"Well, you can go talk to Evelina, but I have to go milk the cows."
Larisa grinned and ran into the house as I headed for the barn.
When I got to the barn I found that Mr. Racken was already busy forking hay into the stalls.
"You're a little late, Lars," he commented, not slowing his rhythmic movement.
I nodded and set to work milking the first cow.
"Larisa's happy that the ducks are back," I explained with a smile.
"She definitely likes those ducks!" Mr. Racken agreed.
When we were finished with the chores, we headed inside and Larisa met us.
"I think," she announced gravely, "that the next time we see him we should invite him to supper."
Mr. Racken took of his hat and hung it on a hook.
"Who should we invite to supper?" He inquired mildly as we went into the kitchen.
"You invited someone to supper?!" Evelina, my twin sister, asked in some alarm.
"I don't think so," Mr. Racken said, beginning to wash up. Evelina turned to me. I shrugged as I dried my hands and face with a towel.
"We should invite him to supper!" Larisa insisted.
"Who?" Mr. Racken asked again as we sat down at the table.
"The man that we have been seeing," Larisa answered, and promptly proceed to tell him all about this mysterious person.
"I see," was Mr. Racken's comment. Mr. Racken was often a man of very few words.
After we had prayed and begun eating, Larisa spoke up again.
"Evelina said that a good way to cheer people is to give them a card, but I think we should invite him to supper instead.
"I think it would be better to start with a card," Mr. Racken said, with a smile.
"Well, I will then," Larisa agreed, and was silent for the rest of the meal.
Next morning when I came in from the barn, I found Evelina busy with the breakfast dishes, and Larisa sitting at the table with paper and pencils in front of her.
Later that afternoon, Evelina informed me that she had discovered where he lived when she went to take some milk to the Hartfords, their cow having recently had her calf.
"His name is Paul and he's living with the Hartfords and working for Mr. Hartford to pay his board," she explained excitedly, "he came from Tucson just a month ago, which would explain why we saw him there!"
"Mr. Racken said we could take him the card I made and this box of baked goods Evelina made, and just to make sure we're back in time to make supper!" added Larisa, hopping around excitedly, "so let's go! Maybe we'll even have time to see the ducks!"
Evelina and I grinned at each other and we set out, with Larisa skipping happily between us. Before long we had reached the Hartfords farm. We went up the walk and I knocked on the door.
"Hello!" Mrs. Hartford greeted cheerfully as she opened the door, "come right in! Larisa, dearie, how you HAVE grown!"
We stepped inside and Evelina explained our errand.
"That's right nice of you to bring something for Paul!" Mrs. Hartford said heartily, "he's lonely, so it'll do him good. He's in the barn; want me to call him or you want to go find him?"
Noticing that it looked as though Mrs. Hartford was in the middle of a project, Evelina assured her that we could find him, and we went back outside. We made our way to the barn and knocked on the open door.
"Yes?" The young man came out of the barn with a pitchfork of hay over his shoulder.
"We just came by to introduce ourselves," explained Evelina, "I hope that's alright..." her voice trailed off slightly as face remained stoic.
"It's fine," he replied, tossing the hay into a stall, "I'm Paul."
We introduced ourselves and Larisa handed him the box. He looked confused.
"It's for you," Larisa piped up, "we thought you needed to be cheered!"
His face softened visibly and he picked up the card from off the top and opened it. I knew exactly what it read:
'Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.' 1 Peter 5:7
Enjoy the cookies!
Love from your neighbors,
Mr. Racken, Lars, Evelina & Larisa
Paul looked up,
"Cast all my cares upon Jesus?" He asked in almost a whisper. "I've heard that before, but..."
"Yes," replied Evelina softly, "He cares for you, Paul."