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Saint of the Day: St. Toribio Romo González
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Encountering Grace in the Thrift Store


Laura Yeager - published on 05/24/16

I was only looking for second-hand costume jewelry, but left with so much more

I was at the thrift store to look for a fake gold chain for a pendant I liked to wear with brown outfits. The jewelry was kept in trays in a showcase and you had to ask the clerk to bring out the trays so you could examine the jewelry.

“May I see that tray?” I asked.

The clerk brought it out and I began to scan the jewelry. Nothing. I looked back through the showcase glass. There in another tray was a gold chain that had a sand dollar pendant on it. “Perfect,” I thought. I could use the chain and throw the pendant away.

“You can put this tray back,” I said to the clerk. “And may I see that one?”

The chain I desired was only $2.00. Sold!

Then, I noticed something else I liked, hiding in the velvet-lined tray: a silver wishbone on a silver chain. Another woman saw it too. “What is that?” she asked me in a thick accent.

“It’s a wishbone. You know, the kind in meat that you dry out and break in half for good luck.”

“What nationality are you?” she asked.


“No, where are your ancestors from?”

“Germany, France and England,” I said. “Where are you from?”

“Colombia. Do you want the wishbone?” she asked me.

“No, you can have it.”

“Thank you so much!”

We each got our jewelry and moved on to other parts of the store. Soon, I found myself in housewares. The cutest set of pizza dishes caught my eye: triangular plates in the shape of slices. Six dishes for only $6.00.

“I thought about buying those!” said the Colombian woman who’d bought my wishbone necklace. There she was again.

“Do you want them?” I asked her.

“No, you take them.”

“We have similar taste.”

“Yes, we do.”

“I’m Laura,” I said.

“I’m Vilma. This place is great.”

“Yes, wonderful. Lots of great, cheap stuff. So this is your first time here?”


“Well, I hope you find lots of bargains.”

I began to walk away.

“Good bye, Laura. Pray for me.”

“I will.” I didn’t find the request strange, being religious myself. I made a mental note to add Vilma to my prayer list.

We met up again in the lady’s plus-size department.

“Vilma.” I was glad I had found her. I needed to ask her something.

“Yes,” she said.

“Would you pray for me, too? I have breast cancer.”

I’d gotten the news only three days before: my breast cancer from five years ago had returned, re-developing because of the radiation treatment I’d been given to cure the cancer from before. The treatment to heal me had made me sick again.

“Oh, my goodness,” she said. “I had breast cancer in 2005. Of course, I’ll pray for you.”

We parted ways again.

Soon, I was ready to check out. As I was being rung up, Vilma approached me again. “There you are,” she said. “I’ve been looking all over for you. I want to pray over you.”

That Wednesday, I was going to have an MRI, and the week after that, a surgeon was going to remove the cancer. But this woman, this lady from Colombia, Vilma, wanted to pray over me in the middle of the thrift store.

Not surprisingly, I was game. I certainly needed prayer. And Vilma was sincere and sweet.

After I’d paid the clerk for my items, Vilma and I moved into the aisle by the second-hand artwork. There, she began to pray.

“Dear Jesus, we pray that you heal Laura’s cancer.” I could sense that we were drawing attention to ourselves. A little crowd formed around us.

Vilma moved between Spanish and English. “By your blood, Jesus Christ, heal Laura’s cancer.”

I began to cry. “Hallelujah,” I whispered. I couldn’t help myself. The words just came out of my mouth.

From a corner of my eye, I saw the manager watching us. It seemed like she wanted to stop what was happening, but was torn because there weren’t really any rules on the thrift store books against praying for Jesus to heal someone’s breast cancer in the aisle by the used artwork. In any case, she let Vilma and me continue.

When Vilma finished praying, I hugged her. “I love you,” I said. If she could perform a prayer ceremony over me, I could tell her I loved her. I did love her. She was truly blessed with the kindness of Jesus Christ.

“Thank you,” I said, trying to be a bit more formal.

“Here’s my phone number,” she said, writing it on a tiny slip of paper.

“I’ll let you know what happens,” I said.

“Good. I’ll wait for your call.”

The little circle that had formed broke up as Vilma and I parted ways.

I felt better already.

What happened in the thrift store was the most spontaneous religious experience I’d ever had. I praise God that He appears to us when we need him most. He appeared to me in the form of a Colombian lady with similar taste to mine in a thrift store in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, in the middle of May of 2016.

There, I was gifted with God’s grace.

And I knew I was going to be OK.

[Editor’s Note: Take the Poll – Have You Ever Met Your Guardian Angel?]

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