Longtime restaurant customers tip server with new car as ‘gift from God’

Longtime customers of an Arkansas restaurant tipped a server with a new car that she called “a gift from God.”

David and Sheila Harrison gifted Maria Elena Barragan, a server at Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant in Rogers, Arkansas, a new 2019 Buick Encore on Aug. 2. 

Barragan told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette that the Harrisons told her God led them to give her the car. 

"I didn't take it as a tip. I took it as a gift from God,“ Barragan said.

Barragan said she’s been serving the family for 13 years, ever since she started working at the restaurant. 

“We just became friends and I always share with them what God has done in my life,” she said. 

Two months ago, Barragan was at the altar of her church when an old lady prayed over her, she said.

“I went through a lot of stuff a long time ago and someone prayed over me that my God will be my protector, that he’ll be my father and my kid’s father,” Barragan said. 

That woman told her that God said even though Barragan doesn’t have a man standing right next to her, “He himself is standing right next to you.” 

Then around two weeks ago, on Aug. 2, the Harrisons had lunch at the restaurant. 

“They were done having lunch and they called my manager that they want me to talk to them. Then, they called me to the table,” she said. “At first, I thought I was in trouble because my manager was kind of serious. They called me and I sit down and they said that they wanted to say thank you and that I’m special to them and they wanted to give me a gift.” 

Then, they gifted Barragan the new car. 

“I told Mr. Harrison that I couldn’t take it, that they have blessed me so much,” she said. “And he said that God was leading him to do that.” 

David told her that with his obedience to God, “they decided to bless me with the car,” she said. 

“I feel like it’s been a dream, it’s just unbelievable,” she said. “We are so happy. My kids and I, we can’t believe it. Each time we get in the car, we just say, ‘This is insane!’ It’s incredible. We are very blessed.”

She said she’s very happy to have people around her that use their obedience to God to bless her and her family. 

Barragan said the new car will help her tremendously, as her old car was breaking down and had turned off on her a few times.

Her previous older vehicle was a 2005 Trailblazer, according to the Gazette. 

When she drove home in the new car, her children “thought they were getting kidnapped," she told the paper with a laugh. 

"When I stepped out of the vehicle they couldn't believe it. They thought something had happened to the old car and that it was a rental or something. They thought I was kidding. My kids are still in shock."

Daniel Cavazos, a manager at Abuelo’s, said Barragan is a humble, loving and caring mother. 

“She had bought herself a new car and gave it to her daughter, because her younger daughter needed a car,” he said. “And so she was driving the older car... putting her daughter through high school.” 

“God blessed her with a new car, because he saw her heart,” Cavazos said. 

This story was reported from Los Angeles.