Lost in Saint John


A street in Saint John

If you have ever visited a big city for the first time, you probably know what it's like to find yourself so lost that it seems like you're driving in a maze! And you can probably relate to my family and I when we arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick. Oh, we had a map, and we had directions to the campground. We even took the indicated exit, the one not only suggested on the map, but also posted with campground signs! But despite all of this, we had barely left the highway when all signs of our destination seemed to evaporate into thin air, and we found ourselves, trailer and all, pulled to the side of a busy one-way street in downtown Saint John, trying to figure out where we were, all the while hoping those who were coming up behind us would be compassionate! As the band of honking horns bustled around us, there was only one thing we knew for sure: We were NOT on the right road to the campground! I'm not sure just how we did it, but many "about-faces" later, and we finally found ourselves setting up camp.

We had no idea that this was to be an omen of what awaited us throughout our stay in this busy New Brunswick city. Want to find a grocery store? No problem. Welcome to the world of the lost ones. Need to locate the Toyota dealer in order to have a scheduled maintenance to our van? Lost beyond hope. Trying to follow the signs to the Carleton Martello Tower National Historic Site? You guessed it! Back tracking through a maze of senseless, tortuous streets.

Our most memorable "get lost" event is when we were attempting to return to our camp from visiting the Reversing Falls, a phenomenon that occurs where the Saint John River empties into the Bay of Fundy, and only made possible by the magnitude of the Fundy tides. We had struggled manfully (or womanfully, as my wife was driving!) through the maze of roads; but the streets of Saint John weren't cooperating. You see, the street names and city indications didn't match what we found on our map! And we soon found ourselves utterly lost, again, only this time it was in a lugubrious section of town! The houses that weren't completely falling apart had their windows and doors boarded up, and other than the homeless who were wandering the streets, there was no other soul to be seen. It seemed that the more we tried to figure it out, the more we found ourselves lost in the grip of this dim side of town.

Once again we pulled over to the side of the road, and our now well-used city map again appeared spread out over the dash board as we tried, unsuccessfully, to figure out just WHERE we were! A few prayers were raised heavenward, for after having had plenty of practice at getting lost that day, we personally knew the nervous breakdown that was awaiting us! All of sudden, a city bus appeared from around the corner, slowed down and stopped right beside us.

"Oh great!" thought my wife as she dutifully rolled down the window. "Am I parked in front of the bus stop?" she called up to the driver, fully expecting to be yelled at.

But to our amazement, the driver was smiling. "No!" He answered in a pleasant tone of voice. "Just thought you might need some help! Are you lost?"

"How did you know?" asked my wife, still in shock that a bus driver, on duty even, would care about a vanload of tourists.

"I saw your Ontario plates and your map!" he said with a grin. "Besides, anyone finding themselves in THIS part of town MUST be lost! Where are you heading?"

We explained where we were going, and he told us to follow him. We did, and he led us to the next bus stop where he got out of his bus, came back to our van, and proceeded to shed some much-needed light on our map. He then told us that he drove a Toyota too, and always had a soft place in his heart for fellow Toyota drivers. We were left wondering, however, if he didn't have a variety of cars at home, and if he didn't have a soft place in his heart for drivers of ALL makes and models! In any case, he made us feel that we were the highlight of his day, and his huge smile made us feel welcome in a city that, up until then, hadn't seemed to greet us with open arms!

There are so many lost people in the world. Maybe they aren't lost on the streets of Saint John, New Brunswick, like we were. Maybe they are lost in the maze of this world. It doesn't matter. It only took five minutes for this man to make a huge difference in our lives. Are we willing to do the same for others? Are we willing to help them find their way home?

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Phil 2:3-4 NIV)

Look at those people. They seem lost! Will YOU take the time to help them out?

Rob Chaffart

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