The Ballestero Blog

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Guess What Moment I Think About, When I Drop Money Into The Pot.

with 25 comments

Guess What Moment I Think About, When I Drop Money Into The Pot.

It was such a pleasant Wednesday evening, that night in December of 1958. Daddy had just gotten home from a revival somewhere and we were so happy to see him. We lived in National City, California and had been attending the church pastored by Bro. Leamon Reynolds. Daddy was an Evangelist and we had based out of National City since June.

I was in the 9th grade. I was old enough to understand that money was hard to come by and that we had none, to speak of. We had just come through a period of time where there had been very little food in the house for the last several months. For a month, or so, we’d had nothing to eat but pinto beans. We had eaten the beans without salt or seasoning, because there wasn’t any. Mother’s gift of imagination was contagious as we all acted like we were eating fried chicken or corn on the cob while eating the beans. We learned to laugh about it too.

Tonight was extra nice though, because Daddy had made it home. He’d been gone for a month or so. Tonight was Christmas Eve. There were no decorations to be seen. There was no tree. We’d never had a Christmas tree. We never missed not having one either. There were no presents on display. Our gifts were family, shelter, and enough food to keep body and soul together. All was well with the world, for us.

All of our clothes and shoes were from the Goodwill or some Thrift store. My shoes especially looked like Goodwill shoes. I had on old men’s shoes. Other guys my age wore ‘White Bucks’ or some cool looking ‘Blue Suede Shoes’. I wasn’t cool and I was OK with that. My Mom and Dad were doing the best for us children and we knew it. Most of all, we knew we were deeply loved. Our parents often did without food, so all of us children could eat. I noticed that, and it made it hard for me to eat very much.

We all sat in the living room talking. My two youngest sisters were not much more than toddlers. They were so happy to see him they crawled all over Daddy’s lap while he sat on the couch with Mama.

Mama always treated Daddy like a King. He always treated her like a Queen. We laughed while Daddy held her in his arms and sang a song to her, made popular by the McGuire Sisters. “Sugartime.”

 

Sugartime

Sugar in the morning
Sugar in the evening
Sugar at suppertime
Be my little sugar
And love me all the time

Honey in the morning
Honey in the evening
Honey at suppertime
So by my little honey
And love me all the time

Put your arms around me
And swear by stars above
You’ll be mine forever
In a heaven of love

Sugar in the morning
Sugar in the evening
Sugar at suppertime
Be my little sugar
And love me all the time

A knock on our door interrupted the moment. Mom and Dad looked at each. We weren’t expecting company. This was Christmas Eve. Everyone should be home tonight. This was special family time for most people.

All my family joined in behind me as I opened the door. Standing there were faces I had never seen. Six of them stood there, dressed in neatly pressed Salvation Army uniforms. They all smiled. In unison, they said, “Merry Christmas”

They each held armloads of sacks and packages. They said they were for us. They came into the house and began laying sacks of groceries on the counter on the table and on the floor. They brought in so many sacks of groceries, that my mother cried.

Then they brought in presents and clothes for all of us children. They had our names written on all of the presents. I never did find out how they knew our names. We never told them.

My sisters each got a doll and some doll clothes, among other gifts. I got a bat, a baseball glove and a baseball. I also got a toy model to put together.

Somehow, someone had guessed the approximate clothes sizes for each of us. My sisters got dresses, skirts and blouses. I got jeans and shirts. We all got shoes and coats.

The Salvation Army people stood grinning, as they looked at our faces. They smiled at my mothers’ tears. All of us children sincerely thanked them. My Dad and Mom thanked each one of them too.

So, today, when I walk into a store and see a red Salvation Army kettle hanging on a tripod with a bell-ringer standing behind it, guess what moment in time my mind goes back to? Guess what I am thinking about as I drop some money into the pot?

Written by Martyn Ballestero

December 5, 2011 at 1:01 am

Posted in Treasured Memories

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25 Responses

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  1. So very touching – a true meaning of giving at Christmas …
    Thanks for taking the time to write and share.
    Ed & Lois Kozar

    Ed Kozar

    December 5, 2011 at 1:18 am

  2. Even though I was too small to remember, I have heard the story, and almost every year I remind our children. Because of this, I cannot pass by a red Salvation Army kettle without putting money in the pot. It meant so much to our family back then, and I know there are other families who will enjoy Christmas presents and food because of our giving. God help us not to just think of ourselves, but others.

    Nila Marxer

    December 5, 2011 at 1:19 am

  3. Oh, this is so heart warming that it makes me want to put money in that pot in front of Walmart this season of Christmas.

    Janell and Tom Puleo

    December 5, 2011 at 2:10 am

  4. I love your stories may God richly bless you.

    Larry Gammons

    December 5, 2011 at 5:23 am

  5. I too never turn down a chance to give into the red pot. Just the other day, I took my grand-daughter to Wal-mart with me and I passed one of the workers for Salvation Army. The worker was cold and although he had a coat on, he was ringing the bell in spite of his cold hands. I wanted to also use the opportunity to teach lil Jordan the importance of giving so when we got in the store I ask one of the clerks where the men’s gloves were. After my quick shopping I paid for the items and in leaving, give the gloves to the Salvation Army worker. He was so thankful.

    She ask me why I did that, I was able to tell her that he was cold and needed our help. I too know what it is like to be on the “cold” side and God sent someone to us when heat was needed in our home.

    Thank you Brother Ballestero, you are a Prince.

    Mark McKinnney

    December 5, 2011 at 5:56 am

  6. this was a tissue moment for sure

    grannywy

    December 5, 2011 at 8:19 am

  7. I love to read your writings..your kind and gentle spirit is truly felt through your pen and paper. Thank you for gentle reminders in the busy life!

    Ruth E Tanner

    December 5, 2011 at 9:43 am

  8. awe.. Thank you for sharing!!

    Shyann Parker

    December 5, 2011 at 10:04 am

  9. Touching story. God bless you and your family at Christmas

    Margaret Hale .

    December 5, 2011 at 11:02 am

  10. You know it is to early in the morning for me to be crying like this…

    Sue Pinell

    December 5, 2011 at 11:03 am

  11. I read this with tears streaming down my face. I so vividly remember this & how exciting that was in our lives. We had no clue we were in need of help…..I didn’t, anyway. I thought that’s how everyone lived! And I can’t pass a Salvation Army bucket either!!

    Carlene Branham

    December 5, 2011 at 5:31 pm

  12. That is a story I never heard! Wow! It will make a difference in how I look at the Salvation Army people!

    Crystal Smith (Morris)

    December 6, 2011 at 12:41 am

  13. Recently retired, after a 20 plus year career with The Salvation Army, I find this story most ‘heartwarming’. What a rewarding career it was!

    Patricia

    December 6, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    • I wish to thank you for your labor of love, and for the blessing you personally have been to so many.

      Martyn Ballestero

      December 6, 2011 at 3:56 pm

      • I would love to recommend this ‘Christmas story’ to the editor of one of TSA publications. If you wish to submit it, I will send TSA address information!

        Patricia

        December 6, 2011 at 5:38 pm

      • You have my permission. Thank you, I am honored.
        MJB

        Martyn Ballestero

        December 6, 2011 at 8:20 pm

  14. Thanks, Bro…

    Casey Jones

    December 6, 2011 at 2:15 pm

  15. Just wanted to start by telling you how thankful I am for you sharing this story with me and my family.I to know how it feels when something like that happens and all i know and can say is I KNOW MY HEAVENLY FATHER LIVES AND ALWAYS KNOWS WHAT WE NEED.I am so glad to be one of his children. Saved by his mercy thankyou JESUS.

    Shonnia Guillotte

    December 7, 2011 at 11:28 pm

  16. Brother Ballestero, I want to thank you for sharing this story with us. It truely gives my heart a song to think of how many people out there are willing to help those is need. I have been one to always give in the red bucket ever since I can remember because I know what it’s like to be on the other side not having much! I greatly appreciate everything that God has blessed me with. I want to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas with the utmost respect and love that I can give. Many blessings to you!!!

    Stephanie Glover

    December 8, 2011 at 7:29 am

  17. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story – it was sent to me by a friend of your family. I love to hear about the impact of The Salvation Army on people’s lives. I have worked for this great organization for over 25 years and I am still moved and amazed when I hear a story like yours. Most moving in your story, was the love and contentment present in your family. God bless!

    Patti

    December 8, 2011 at 12:48 pm

  18. Marty….Although I have heard this story told through the years, the details had me bawling my eyes out. Thank you for retelling this story to remind us to give to those less fortunate. I am reposting this on my page as well. Love you

    Ramona Yandris

    December 9, 2011 at 3:07 pm

  19. This is beautiful! I hope there were presents for you and your wife, too, though seeing your little ones so gleeful must have been a huge gift! I hope the Salvation Army still makes such personal, miraculous home visits. Have a Merry Christmas! Happy New Year, 2012, too! All the best, Mrs. Kris Bass-Malloy

    Kris Malloy

    December 10, 2011 at 12:11 am

  20. OH WHAT A WONDERFUL STORY,I HAD NEVER HEARD IT BEFORE,BUT IT COMES IN THE SAMEGENTLE WAY,THAT I WAS LIVING IN ATLANTAAND REALLY SEARCHING FOR THE LORD.HAD GONE TO A DEMONINATIONAL CHURCH FOR 19 YEARS.AND JUST KNEW THERE HAD TO BE MORE,MY GRANDAD HAD BUILT THAT CHURCH & MY DAD HAD BEEN THE ADULT BIBLE CLASS TEACHER FOR 39 YEARS.I WAS ON A RELENTLESS SEARCH FOR TRUTH,MY 3 YR OLD GIRL HAND IN HAND WITH ME AS I WENT TO 15 DIFFERENT CHURCHES,SOME MORE THAN ONCE.I WAS PRAYING & FASTING, & THREW OUT A FLEECE.ALL WAS GOING ACCORDING TO PLAN.AND AFTER A PARTICULAR WORSHIPFUL DAY..THE LORD SPOKE TO ME IN MY HEART TO GO OUTSIDE AND THE WORDS THE GIRL SPOKE TO ME WOULD BE OF HIM.I REALLY HAD NEVER SEEN ANYONE OUTSIDE ALTHO WE WERE CONNECTED BY CHAINLINK FENCE.I WENT IMMEDIATELY THERE WHERE THE GIRL WAS & SHE INVITED ME TO CHURCH THAT NIGHTI WENT& IMMEDIATELY KNEW I HAD FOUND THE RIGHT PLACE! PRAISE GOD.BRO. H.B. MORGAN WAS MY PASTOR AND WEEKS LATER REV. CARL BALLESTERO PREACHED AND I REPENTED AND RECEIVED THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY GHOST1!later we moved to SHELBYVILLE,IND AND REV ROBERT CAVANESS TAUGHT ME,IT WAS WONDERFUL!AND NOW WE ARE AAAAAAAAT MYRTLE BEACH AND OUR PASTOR IS PASTOR JON F
    ELD @ THE POWERHOUSEASSOCIATED WITH REV. STACY DAVIS,INLAWS.
    MY DAUGHTER KRISTIE ADAMS WHO RECEIVVVED THE JESUS NAME WATER BAPSIM&REPENTED& RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST WHEN SHE WAS ONLY 7 YRS. OLD LIVES IN ST PETERSBURG,FLA AND WORKS IN TAMPA AS A PARALEGAL . ,SHE HAS 4 CHILDREN 2 @ AT HOME AND ONE IN AFGHANASTAN DREW IN THE ARMY,AND KERI IN THE NAVY IN INTELLIGENCE.PLEASE PUT THEM ON YOUR PRAYER LIST.THANK YOU .AND THANK YOU FOR BEING ON FACEBOOK & FOR YOUR TIMELY MESSAGES .

    ANNIE E. PHARR

    December 15, 2011 at 4:31 pm

  21. When I see them ringing the bell I sometimes ask if I can get them something hot to drink, never thought of the gloves, though, thanks Mark, for the idea.

    Bro Ballestero, I have never heard of a preacher suggesting such a thing and am so happy to know that a Christian can be a so to everyone, not just your own ‘family’. It takes so little to open your heart to do good to everyone, that is what Jesus did. I don’t often see this true Christianity, thanks for uplifting my spirit. When we’ve done it to the least of these, we have done it unto him.

    A couple of years ago I got a one legged man out of a trash bin (he’d just found a partial coke with lid and was happy and took a drink!) and took him to McD’s for lunch. Then the couple out in the winter weather I took there and said take your time and eat slowly and get warm. You know, kindness cost so little and what we get out of it is such a blessing. I know what it is to be homeless, to live in my car in 1 degree weather, even over 100 degrees, too. I think those of us who have been there know what it is like. I don’t ever want to get too good for the people around me that are suffering or just need someone to listen.

    Think I’ll throw some money in the next red bucket I see!

    Sherry

    December 22, 2011 at 9:46 pm

  22. Thank You on behalf of all the folks in Army uniform who stand behind the red kettle, with joy and love, to make sure many know they are valued by God, especially at Christmas. We do this, humbly, knowing that God loves the poor and the homeless. I am a voice from behind the kettle and want you and each of the responses to know how much it means to us knowing we helped you in some way. Pass it forward! God bless you.
    Colonel N.P.

    Noella Phillips

    December 26, 2011 at 7:40 pm


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