Doug Tales 24: Heaven Took Notice

“Because the people gave of themselves, wanting nothing back, Heaven took notice.” Doug Mendenhall shares the backstory to the unique Country Gardens restaurant on pages 3-6 of I See…Arise! (2016). Around 15 years ago, this restaurant in Sanpete County, Utah, hosted six families who served the local community without any of the workers being paid, and “Heaven took notice.”

Around 2005, while I was traveling north to do a seminar, the Spirit told me to make a bid to take over a restaurant in Fairview, Utah. It was a place that my daughter and her husband were running for his parents. They were in the process of closing it due to many months of losses.

The Spirit told me to approach five other families and ask them if they would like to take over this restaurant and work it for the Lord, and no one would be paid to work there—not one dime. I had no idea how these families would view what the Lord was asking us to do. They still would need to work their normal jobs so they could provide for their families in addition to covering all shifts at the restaurant.

All five said they would do it. One said they would do it for me. That didn’t sit well with me, as I knew they needed to do it for the Lord and not for a man. Nevertheless, I made the offer to take it over, and it was rejected. As I knelt on my knees that night, I reminded the Lord that this was His deal, and it had been rejected. He told me to have patience and wait.

The owners called three days later and said they would accept our offer to just take it over; no money involved in the transaction.

The five (later six) families ran the restaurant, Country Gardens, for two years. We learned much. We fought, cried, laughed, learned, worked very hard together, loved and hated each other, and yet we tried to obey the Lord in what we were doing. Country Gardens was His restaurant, not ours. It was hard to put in forty hours there and then work another forty hours or more to provide for my family. But the lessons learned were priceless, and little did we know how Heaven felt about it.

We started each day with prayer. Shields were placed around the restaurant to keep darkness away from it. Love was consciously put into the food as we cooked it. For Thanksgiving we fed anyone who wanted to come for a free turkey dinner. At Christmas time we fed fifty needy families a free Christmas dinner of any item on the menu that they wanted to eat, including dessert. There was a Christmas room upstairs loaded with purchased and donated toys, clothes, and other items that were given to the families for Christmas. Some families that came had up to twelve children. It was an amazing time and incredibly hard work. I remember leaving the restaurant many nights at one in the morning.

One family that worked with us, the DeGraws, dressed up as Dickens Carolers and sang Christmas Carols in the restaurant and also outside at a Nativity we had built. We gave away free hot chocolate and apple cider.

One Thanksgiving when we provided the free dinner, we stayed open until 3:00 p.m. and then shut it down so we could clean up and go home to enjoy the rest of the day with our families. At 3:10 there was a knock on the door. I opened the door, and there stood a man and woman, a husband and wife.

The man said, “We’ve been traveling and tried to get a Thanksgiving dinner at the restaurant in Mt. Pleasant, but we got there at 3:05, and they wouldn’t feed us, so we traveled here and found you. Could we get a meal here?”

I told him sure and asked them to come in.

We sat them in the booth near the register. They both ate two plates of food and dessert on top of that. It was fun talking to them because they had really “different” accents.

My daughter, Denise, sat over in the corner and just watched and smiled.

After the couple left I called our friend, Kitten, who has spiritual sight and asked her if she noticed anything about the restaurant as she had driven off with her husband. She had left as they walked up to our door. She stated that she had seen a huge light descend on the place but had been told to keep going home.

We asked Denise about them because the Spirit had told us that it had been the Lord Jesus Christ and his Wife that had come to our restaurant. Denise laughed and confirmed that, indeed, it had been Them.

We felt Their presence for weeks, and some of us found ourselves sitting in that booth whenever we could. We marveled that They would come to our little place. Why? And then we’d ask ourselves if it really was the Lord and His Wife. Then the Spirit would confirm it all over again to us.

Later at Christmas time as we were feeding the fifty families, They came back. They listened to the DeGraws sing carols for thirty minutes inside the restaurant, carols to Him, about His birth, as He sat there. Then They went outside and listened to the DeGraws and others sing carols at the Nativity we had built.

Once again it was confirmed that They had come back to see the restaurant.

Years later a good friend called me and asked me to tell him of our restaurant experience.

“You mean my monumental failure?” I asked him.

“No, it was not a failure. It was a piece of Zion here on the earth for those two years, and Heaven took notice,” he responded.

He went on to say that Heaven took notice because a group of people listened to His voice and worked a restaurant for two years without pay, doing much good for the community while learning many lessons themselves. Because the people gave of themselves, wanting nothing back, Heaven took notice.