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The Girl in the Blue Coat

By April Tribe Giauque

I was driving my children to church for a high adventure meeting and then a meet and greet with the ward. 

I noticed a young lady (17?) on the way to our final intersection of Blue Lakes and Kimberly Road. The weather was mid-30s, and she was in a t-shirt and leggings and hugging herself around the middle. I knew she was cold, and I knew she needed help. I knew I needed to give her something. My mind raced at what I might have in the back of my van. It so happened that I had a few items from the trailer, and I remember specifically a blue coat. 

All of that happened within 3 seconds, and suddenly, the traffic light had turned green. I glanced in the review mirror and saw six cars behind me, so I had to proceed in the southern direction even though the young woman was headed in an easterly direction. I proceeded through the intersection, over the railroad tracks, and made an abrupt left turn into a trailer park. 

I turned Big Bertha around and got back to the eastbound road. I spotted her just one block away. My mind raced to figure out how many businesses I needed to pull ahead to hop out of the car and to the back, open the doors, dig through the bag, and pull out the coat before I approached her. 

Approaching a stranger, especially when jumping out of a white 12-passenger van, might send off threatening signals, but I hoped my smile and genuine concern for the girl in grey would override it. 

My mind saw where I needed to pull in, and I did that: parked, flew out the door, raced to the back of the van, pulled open the back door, reached up, grabbed the white bag, and pulled out the blue coat. Like a shield, I looked through the opened back door to see how many steps away she was until I could approach her. 

With a prayer in my heart, I asked Heavenly Father to have her accept the coat and pray for her. She was about 15 feet away, and I shut the van door and got a complete look at her. 

She had bruising on her neck and a thin red line wrapping around her throat. Strangulation, my heart said. My eyes fixed on her chapped lips, dehydrated skin, and red cheeks from the cold. Her dirty blond hair fell partially out of the bun off to the left, and her light brown eyes had little hope.

I said, “This is for you. You look cold.” I handed her the blue coat. She stopped. She looked with hesitation, but her words said, “Ah, ma’am. Thank you.” She looked a little past me. The words that came out of my mouth were, “Are you safe? Are you away from him?”  I was shocked at how blunt I was. She looked at me dead in the eye, “The police,” she said with sarcasm. “Have taken care of it,” her hands went up with air quotes. 

We held each other's gaze. I wanted to hug her, bring her in the van, and take her to the church where she could get food. My heart was praying rapid fire. 

“Do you have a place to go?” I said. She looked past me again and said, “I’m heading to the Oasis to see if I can charge my phone. Then I’ll call my friend to pick me up.” I looked over her person to check if she had a phone, which I could not see, but I nodded. 

“Will you be safe tonight?” I asked. She blinked and squeaked, “Yes.”  I looked at her again and said, “My prayers are with you.” She blinked back and said, “Thank you. There’s not too many people like you.” I had no words, and she shifted to the side and stepped around me, continuing her walk in the cold Kimberly road eastbound toward the Oasis. 

I watched her walk away. Praying for her protection, a meal, and a way out. Suddenly, my mind flashed an image of the face of my Supporter, Gloria. I could see the hotel lobby, smell the pine and cinnamon, and feel her kind hand on mine when she asked, “Honey, are you running?” I know what it’s like to have only the clothes on your back and babies in your arms. And I looked back up the road to the Girl in the Blue Coat—and prayed she could feel our love for her. 

As the image faded from my mind, I turned back toward the van. I saw three of my children looking out the van windows at what had happened, and I smiled at them—and hopped back in Bertha. I shut the door. It was quiet. 

Rhetten turned to me and said the perfect words. “Mom, it was the right thing to help her.”  I smiled and nodded at him. "I think so. Can you pray for her?" Another prayer was offered, and then I popped the van into reverse, backed onto the highway, pulled the gear into drive, and headed toward the church building. 

God places people in your pathway for a reason. I’m grateful on that day; I followed the small prompting to help. God told me she was in trouble. It just reminded me of so many sayings,

 “We are doing the best we can with what we know.” 

“Stay in tune with God, and He will guide thee with His Light.”

“Be the instrument in His hands.” 

“Be Still and Know that I am God.”

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