I know, I know! I know what you’re muttering to yourself: another article on letter writing! How do I know that you are saying that? Because I’ve said it myself a hundred times over the years. You know–when that little nagging voice in your mind keeps telling you, “I need to write them a note; I really need to write them a note.” But you keep putting it off because you don’t have time, letters are antiquated, and nobody writes them anymore; I’m too busy; it won’t make any difference; they know I appreciate them; etc., etc.
Well, I’m not here to beat you over the head, but to share with you some of my experiences over the years in which the Lord has used my willingness to be available, frequently to be a blessing, but sometimes to remedy situations that needed to be repaired. I’m not an expert on this subject by any means. Even though Scripture says that our words can be a blessing and a curse, too often I make mistakes with my words. But I’m here to tell you a few specific instances where the written word made a positive impact in my life and in the lives of others.
Just recently the Department of Public Safety (DPS) finally implemented the parent-taught driver education in the state of Texas. My son had been anxiously awaiting the passing of this program into law because he is an apprentice and was not able to attend the standard driver education school. We sent off for our packet from the state and breathlessly checked the mail daily as we waited for it to come. Finally, the day arrived! We carefully studied the materials, and then my son and I went to our local driver licensing station, prepared for him to take his test to receive his learner’s permit.
As we arrived at the local driver licensing station and began the process of trying to get him a permit, it quickly became evident that we were the first family to appear before them with these documents and that these DPS employees were not sure of how to handle us. They sent us away, telling us that we had to teach for the required 32 hours before we could appear before them. Having already had a daughter go through a local driver education school, I knew that could not be correct, because she had gotten her permit on the third day of school. As we went home and perused the literature, we found the clause that states that you can teach the seven hours of driving lab concurrently with the hours of study lab required. A minimum of six hours of study is required to get the permit. My son had already completed the six hours of study required, so we returned to the driver license station.
When we returned, they started the process of issuing the permit. The DPS employees began to check through our paperwork to ascertain if all was in order. It was. They then began to administer the written test to my son. I went out to the car to wait, secure in the knowledge that all was in order and that my son would return soon, permit in hand.
Alas, it didn’t work out that way. When my son returned, he did not have a permit. The employees said they couldn’t issue him one without the papers that were supposed to arrive from Austin.
My son was very disappointed and he didn’t understand what was happening. Well, when I went in right away to find out what was going on, the sergeant in charge of this local DPS station said he didn’t realize that they couldn’t complete the permit process without these papers from the state that had to be filled out in triplicate. He had no idea when we could expect them to arrive and explained that they would call our home when the papers arrived.
Needless to say, we felt like we were getting the run-around. Nobody knew what to do, where our paperwork was, how long it would be before they would receive it, etc. My son had already taken the written test and passed it, we had all the paperwork we needed, but they told us that he couldn’t receive his permit until they received extra paperwork from the state and they had no idea how long that would take, never having done this before. The state had just implemented the law a week before. On that same day that we were trying to get the permit, the bill to repeal parent-taught driver education was defeated on the floor of the House of Representatives. It appeared that the state had been anticipating that the law would be repealed and that they would never have to implement it.
Well, what would you do in such a situation? I was desperate. My son was extremely disappointed, and I didn’t know if I was being told the truth. I didn’t know who to turn to get answers, but I didn’t want everybody else to have to go through this rigmarole as well.
I decided to write (fax) to my representative … and my senator … and the governor … and the head of the Texas DPS, etc. I wrote to everyone I could think of, telling them my story and asking them to help.
Do you think I got results? You bet I did! The next day I received a call from my representative’s office, asking me to clarify the situation and to tell them what they could do to help. His office got to work immediately, calling the people in charge and questioning them about what was going on. I got calls from the state DPS assuring me that those papers would be out as soon as possible or they would drive the papers to Lubbock from Austin themselves! Sure enough, the following Monday the local DPS office called to tell me that the papers were in. My son is now driving, thanks to my letter, which helped get things going. Also, I think that my experience helped smooth the way for others.
But it’s not just important to complain; it’s also important to praise. A story that really illustrates this happened a couple of years ago.
Our home school group in Shreveport, Louisiana, had a field trip, which I had set up, to Mansfield Commemorative Park. When we arrived, we were a small group and we were the only people in the park. The park ranger had dressed up for us in a Civil War uniform and he took a long time explaining each piece of gear and allowing the children to handle it. He fired muskets and guns and allowed the boys to fire them as well. He took us all around the park, explaining about a battle that had taken place there in Civil War times and what happened where, etc. He spent a few hours with our group, and I felt he really went out of his way to teach our kids. We were all very impressed.
I felt led to write to him and thank him, but not only him. I wrote to his superiors in Baton Rouge. I explained how he had taken so much time and had really gone out of his way to give us an educational time.
Well, the upshot of it all was that he wrote me back some time later. He told me how much it had meant to him to receive our group’s letter of commendation, but how much more it had meant when his superiors from Baton Rouge had personally come down to congratulate him and had presented him with a certificate of commendation, as well as a raise! He said that he had been so glad to find out that they really cared and noticed the work he was trying to do. He was really grateful. That was a time when I could have kept silent, but I really felt he deserved to be praised for his extra effort.
The bottom line is that we need to be salt and light in our communities, letting our views be made known in a manner which brings glory and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ. When we stand up for what is right in that way, it will get results, and people will pay attention.