I’m an Airbnb host. Which means I host strangers in my home. As a single woman, it gives me an additional income above my normal job as a teacher. Frequently I’m asked by other women if I ever worry about my safety. The answer is no. Sometimes, I question the judgement of people. Such as super late arrivals, not cleaning up after themselves, and using my home for college age ‘meet ups.’ I much prefer the simple, ‘I’m here for work…wedding…traveling through’ and such.
There are times when a person comes through that makes me remember how much God is in control. The girl that arrived in an Uber, went to her room, sat on the bed, and cried…was one of those.
The Fourth of July weekend had just passed and my home was quiet. I had one guest staying; a night nurse who was sleeping through the day. It was early, I hadn’t even gotten out of bed when my phone alerted me to a new booking for that day. It was followed up by these messages.
Hi Rebecca! I’m stranded here in Longview cause my car broke down on a road trip I’d like to check in asap.
Sure. I am home.
Now here sat a slender girl with bright red dyed hair in pigtails, tattoos on her arms and legs, a small nose piercing, and ear gauges making pinky size holes in her lobes Celeste, from Pennsylvania, had just walked into my life for a day.
A California road trip with a friend started the journey. Later, the two friends decided to part ways because of incompatibilities as the trip went along. The evening of July 1, Celeste was in Shreveport, LA when an accident occurred between her and another car without insurance. Since, I don’t know the details, I’ll leave it there. She had her car towed out of Shreveport. When I asked her why didn’t she find a garage there, she said, “Have you seen Shreveport?” I’m guessing it wasn’t the best part of town. I asked her later, why Longview and not Marshall? She said, she didn’t even see Marshall on the map. She saw Longview and that’s how she came to be in our town. She spent three days at Motel 6 waiting for the garage to open after the holiday weekend. Running low on money, she decided to see if she could find a cheaper place on Airbnb. She found mine.
Now, here she sat on her bed with her door open trying to get the ‘garage’ to answer the phone. Once they did and found out she only had liability insurance, they weren’t being very helpful. That’s when the tears started flowing.
I invited her out to the front porch to calm her. We talked and that’s when I found out a bit about her. It didn’t come out at once, but as the hours passed over lunch, sitting on the porch, and listening to her talk with her grandma on the phone. I pieced out that she was the oldest of six kids, being only 21 herself. Her mom wasn’t talking to her because she reported her mom for neglect of her siblings. Her own dad had passed when she was very young, she absolutely loved her sisters and brothers from her mom’s second marriage, and her grandma was her rock.
After she recovered enough to have a conversation instead of crying, she returned to her room to call her grandma. I continued to sit on the porch and think, ‘what could I do to help her to make the situation better?’ Immediately, I thought of my friends Tiffany and Mitch. Tiffany has a heart of gold and Mitch knows all about cars. Mitch didn’t disappoint, but stepped up with the idea to meet us at the ‘garage’ at 2:00, so he could take a look at the car and give his opinion. I trust Mitch’s opinion because he has a kind heart and comes up with solutions. Plan made!
As the morning passed, we looked at pictures of her family and her cats, as she described each one very affectionately. We laughed and talked about her trip. In Georgia, her car broke down and needed expensive repairs. So now fixing it again wasn’t in her budget at all. It is an older model car and putting money into it, most likely wasn’t a solution. The car was in her mom’s name, and the mom wasn’t answering her phone, but luckily, her grandma was being the information carrier between them. The decision was made to simply abandon the car here.
Celeste’s grandma offered to pay to get her home. I could see the relief in her eyes. The conversation went from a train trip or a flight home, trying to decide what would be more feasible. Grandma stepped up and bought her a plane ticket. I offered to take her where she needed that would be helpful. She immediately started searching our thrift stores to see what we had in town. We drove to one to find suitcases to pack some of the items from her car. Thankfully, two large suitcases were found for $10 each.
We met Mitch at the ‘garage’ and as usual, he was his stellar self making the situation easy. He offered to come pick up the car on a trailer and transport it to his own shop at home to get it off the lot and see if it could be repaired. The major problem simply taken care of by a man after God’s own heart.
We watched Celeste decide what to pack into those two cases and what to leave behind. The inside of her car looked like she had been living in it for the three weeks she had been on the road; trash, blankets, stuffed animals, etc. I looked at Mitch about its contents and he just shook his head and nodded. He would clean out all the junk that was left inside. Communication without words is the best!
Back at my home with the problem solved, Celeste gathered her book and walked to the park to read. Later that evening as we were sitting on the porch, enjoying the hot breeze blowing through and the quiet neighborhood, we started discussing kids and parents. I shared about my own son, Cam. She shared about her family. We talked about mom figures and how God places us where we are needed. It was a good day.
Mitch took care of the car the next day.
The next afternoon, I dropped Celeste off at our airport in town. Her backpack on her shoulder and the two suitcases in tow behind her as she smiled and waved. One girl going home without her car. The car played an important part in our meeting, but it only appeared in our story for less than half an hour. I’ll remember Celeste fondly…petting my cat…the absolute bubbly personality and laughter…her bright red hair…but more importantly, I’ll remember that God places people where they are needed at the perfect time.
The next day, I received this text…
‘Good morning Becky, I am home safe and sound with my cats. I’m just elated to be home. I wanted to text you to emphasize one more time how much your kindness means to me. You’re certainly one of the moms the universe sent my way in a time of need and I’m eternally grateful.’
Yes, I’m smiling.