by Valerie Rance (1993)

      It was a warm night in the country of El Salvador two weeks before Christmas 1993.  My apartment was filled with the typical smells, sights and sounds of the Christmas season.  DeLonn and I were sitting in our living room surrounded with our national friends and fellow teachers from the Assemblies of God Christian University.  We had just finished dinner and I was passing out gifts of homemade American Christmas cookies when several of the teachers commented on the beautiful Christmas tree standing between the living room and dinning room. DeLonn then proceeded to tell them about our miracle Christmas tree.
      The year before we were living in Santa Cruz, California during our yearlong furlough.  Itineration was not going very well, California was hit by the recession and though we had been home for six months, our account was still below $1,000. I worried and fretted over our finances each week. I kept asking the Lord if He cared if we returned to El Salvador or not.
         We spent Christmas with my mother and family in San Diego and returned to Santa Cruz after New Years.  One of the things I wanted to take back to El Salvador was a nice artificial tree.  I knew that they would be on sale after Christmas so I jumped into our car the week after New Years and started my search for my Christmas tree. I went from store to store in the Santa Cruz area looking in the places where just a few weeks before were filled from floor to ceiling with Christmas trees. Now they were all gone!  In each place I asked a clerk about the Christmas trees. Most responded, with a smirk on their faces, that the trees were usually sold out the day after Christmas I sat in the parking lot of the K-mart store, with my head on the wheel praying, "Lord, where am I going to find a Christmas tree. You know how much I wanted one. "The small "bottle brush' tree I had used for the past 8 years was just about falling apart and they were so very expensive in El Salvador.  I had one more place to try, if Sears didn't have it I would not get a new tree. As I was driving to Sears I prayed, "Lord, please let there be a tree. One tree is all that I am asking for!"
      I walked into the Sears store and went to the gardening department. My heart fell when at first glance all I saw were mowers, shovels, rakes and gardening supplies. I was about ready to turn away when what looked like the tip of a tree in the far corner caught my eye. I walked toward the speck of green and as I rounded a wall of boxes there stood a six foot Christmas tree with bits and pieces of white cotton on it. I couldn't believe my eyes! I ran and got the clerk and asked if the tree was for sale.  He said that it was. I asked, "How much?" The clerk walked around the tree and found the price tag. "$150.00 dollars." he said as he read the price from the tag. "$150.00 dollars, how can I afford $150.00 dollars?" I thought to my self, 'Well, it is the last tree in Santa Cruz, I better get it.'  I told the clerk I wanted it and as he started to move it he said, "Oh, look, here is another tag. This tree is on sale for $20.00 dollars." I couldn't believe it, not only did I get a Christmas tree, but I got it at a bargain price! I started telling the clerk, as he rang up my purchase, about my search for the tree and the Lord's hand in my finding it.  I was so excited about the tree that I told every person I met the rest of the day about my miracle tree. 
      As I was driving home, I started thanking the Lord for helping me find that Christmas tree. As I was praising Him, I felt Him say to me, "Valerie, if I care enough to find you a Christmas tree, don't you think I care enough to get you back to El Salvador?" With tears running down my face I repented of my lack of faith about our finances.  Six months later we boarded a plane, with our finances raised, and headed back to the land of our calling.
      There are still times when I find myself worrying over things in my life. However, when I do, I think about my miracle tree and again count the many blessings that the Lord has done in my life. The Lord has never failed me and His word promises that He never will.