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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Actions Speak Louder than Words" (without using the actual phrase). (02/21/08)

TITLE: More Than a Meal
By Kristen Hester
~2nd Place


Stephanie carried the hot meal as she and her friend Ashley climbed the narrow staircase to room 403. Ashley blushed at the obscenities spray-painted on the dirty walls.

"We’re not in Kansas anymore," she joked nervously.

Delivering dinners for Meals-on-Wheels was the last planned activity for their college group’s week long mission trip to the inner city. During their stay, they’d served in a soup kitchen, painted a church, and led numerous Bible Clubs in neighborhood parks.

When they reached the correct room, Ashley knocked on the door. "Meals-on-Wheels," she called out.

They could barely hear the frail voice’s response. "Come in."

Ashley pushed open the door and was instantly overwhelmed by the smell of urine. She turned her face to the hallway and tried to gulp some fresh air before entering the room.

"Oh my," Stephanie whispered to Ashley. The girls put on cheerful faces and entered the dark apartment. A small, wrinkled woman was sitting in a recliner, surrounded by dirty dishes and trash. The TV was tuned to HGTV.

"Hello, Mrs. Baker. Where would you like this?"

"Right here." Mrs. Baker patted her lap.

Stephanie handed the lady the plate. "You have a nice day."

"Thank you."

Back in the hallway, Stephanie and Ashley took a deep breath of fresh air but didn’t move. They stood silently and then looked at each other.

"Are you thinking what I’m thinking?"

"We need to at least offer to tidy her apartment. I don’t think she can get up."

Ashley stuck her head back in the door. "Mrs. Baker? Could we help you by throwing away some of these old containers?"

"That would be nice."

Ashley and Stephanie returned to the smelly apartment and started collecting trash. In the kitchen they found a leaky faucet, dirty dishes, and sticky floors. Without saying a word, Ashley started bagging the garbage while Stephanie washed dishes. They worked silently until Stephanie’s cell phone rang.


"Are you two okay?" David, a member of their group, asked.

"We’re fine." She silently mouthed "David" to Ashley. "We’re in room 403 helping a woman tidy her apartment."

Ashley grabbed the phone from Stephanie.

"Hey, David, are you near the van with all the tools?"

"Yep. We’re right outside the apartment."

"Would you be able to come up here and fix this lady’s leaking faucet?"

"I’ll be right up."

David joined them a few minutes later, along with several others from their group.

The additional students quickly went to work vacuuming, mopping and dusting. They moved into the bathroom and scrubbed until the peeling linoleum sparkled. While they worked, Mrs. Baker sat silently in her chair, seemingly amazed at the young angels who had arrived in her apartment.

An hour later the friends looked satisfyingly around the room. Everything was clean, but the urine smell was still strong. They knew they were not finished.

Ashley, a nursing student, knelt at Mrs. Baker’s side.

"Mrs. Baker, can I help you bathe?"

A tear rolled down her check as she nodded her head.

The females in the group escorted Mrs. Baker to the bathroom, and Stephanie and Ashley carefully assisted her as she cleaned. Then they brushed her white hair and helped her dress in fresh clothes.

As they guided her back into the living room, they immediately noticed the fresh smell. A new leather recliner sat in the former one’s place. It wasn’t brand new, and duct tape covered a hole in the back, but it was clean.

David stood there with a sheepish grin. "I hope you don’t mind Mrs. Baker, but I replaced your chair. I remembered seeing this one for sale at the thrift shop across the street."

Tears filled the lady’s eyes for the second time.

"And Mrs. Baker, we’ve arranged for daily meals, instead of weekly," another in the group said. "The volunteers will make sure you don’t need anything when they’re here."

Mrs. Baker gently sat down in her new chair.

"We’re going to have to go, but could we tell you about Jesus?"

"First, let me tell you something. I’ve watched many TV preachers talk about Jesus. I’ve had people knock on my door wanting to tell me about Jesus. I’ve even read about Him in my Bible. But today, for the first time, I saw Jesus with my own two eyes. I saw Him in each of you. I want to know your Jesus."

There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as the students introduced Mrs. Baker to Jesus.

Accept Jesus as Your Savior Right Now and be Certain of Eternal Life.

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Member Comments
Member Date
LauraLee Shaw02/28/08
I guess you could say that this was more than a meal indeed. It seems to me that more than just the elderly lady's life was changed. Some transformation went on among the students as well. You did a great job of capturing the smells and sights of the apartment and the woman. Great job!
Pam Carlson-Hetland02/28/08
This piece brought tears to my eyes. With two parents in a nursing home, I spend lots of time with elderly people. My mother refers to nurses and students that come in to help as her "earth angels". Indeed, actions speak much louder than words in this story. An perfect example of serving others with love, not just lip service. Excellent writing!
Debbie Roome 02/29/08
This is so touching. Excellent writing and captures the topic perfectly.
Lynda Schultz 02/29/08
This gave me goosebumps. Great story.
Seema Bagai 03/03/08
Wow. Wonderful story illustrating love in action. Well done.
Patty Wysong03/03/08
This is Definitely action! I loved this--it was touching and powerful. Loved it.
Leigh MacKelvey03/03/08
this touched me so much ( more than a meal!)because I have a heart for older people who need the kind of help these students gave. We never know, but when we get that age, it might be us sitting in a smelly chair. Very good wiritng, as always!
Jan Ackerson 03/03/08
Wonderful, Kristen, and I really like seeing you S-T-R-E-T-C-H recently. You're a star!
Pat Guy 03/03/08
A very believable account of characters, dialog, scenery and message. Throw in the great writing and you come up with one great story! I really enjoyed this Krisen!
Karen Wilber03/03/08
This was exciting--from the standpoint of wanting to see what else they would do for her. Beautiful story.
Joanne Sher 03/04/08
Very nicely done, Kristen. You definitely nailed the topic, and did a wonderful job with characterization and description. Excellent.
Debbie Wistrom03/04/08
Praise Jesus! AWESOME!
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/04/08
I haven't seen an entry that better showed the topic than this wonderful story.
Betty Castleberry03/05/08
What a powerful message. This is well written, and flows nicely. Thumbs up!
Laury Hubrich 03/05/08
Oh my, Kristen. I went from laughing like crazy reading Betty's to crying reading yours! Wonderful story. Great job with the topic!
Joshua Janoski03/05/08
Before my grandfather passed away, he used to deliver meals on wheels. He felt that since he was blessed with good health, he should help those who weren't as fortunate. I helped him deliver the meals sometimes, and it really opened my eyes to the need that the elderly have. You really brought this need out in your story. What a blessing this was to read. Thank you for sharing!
Tim Pickl03/05/08
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts...
Glynis Becker03/05/08
I'm sitting with tears in my eyes at the beauty of this piece. Thank you so much.
Julie Arduini03/05/08
This had my heart because for ten years I worked for a senior program and you told it as it is, and how I saw it. You nailed this one in every possible way. Excellent!
Sherry Castelluccio 03/05/08
Kristin, this is just amazing. I'm literally stunned. You made this so real and believable and touching. What a divine way to illustrate the topic. You're such a gifted writer. Ok, done gushing. Great job.
Lyn Churchyard03/05/08
Kristin, this is one amazing story of "Jesus with skin on". Everything about this story is A1. Superb!
Sara Harricharan 03/05/08
This is spot on for the topic this week. I think you captured this perfectly. You really got to me with this piece how they all came in...and just helped. Just like that. Your ending was perfect. Wonderful writing! ^_^
LauraLee Shaw03/06/08
Sara Harricharan 03/06/08
***Congratulations, Kristen!*** I'm so glad to see this up here! ^_^
Sheri Gordon03/06/08
Congratulations on your EC, Kristen. If the one in your head was even better than this, I'd sure like to hear that one. :)
Catrina Bradley 03/06/08
Wow, Kristen, great story! Congrats on your EC! (And I see you worked in an "allusion" too!) Love, Cat
Sharon Henderson03/06/08
Excellent. Hard hitting in a gentle loving way. Congratulations...well deserved.
Chely Roach03/06/08
This was so beautiful; tears are impossible to contain after reading this. Amazing. Congratulations on the EC!
Evette Wagner03/13/08
There are no words to describe how touched I was by your story! Before I got to the middle of the story I was holding back the tears, and after reaching the end I finally gave in and let the tears come. Wonderful!