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In 2005, my husband and I packed ourselves along with my 97-year-old mother into our van to head to the mountains where my sister and brother-in-law lived. As soon as I heard the word “devastating” in Hurricane Katrina’s forecast, we knew we had to leave lower Mississippi. After a tiring 8-hour drive and mom asking, “Are we there yet?” repeatedly, we arrived only to discover my niece, her husband, and three children were also on their way to stay in the two-bedroom cabin where my sister and her husband were temporarily staying while their new home was being built. Fortunately, my niece had prepared to sleep on the floor and brought sleeping bags for their family. Within two days of trying to sleep in crowded conditions and having to eat at the small dining table in shifts, I began praying, “Lord, we can’t continue to live like this. Mom has no chance to take a nap with two young children and two dogs running in and out of the cabin constantly.” Towels were piling up in the one small bathroom. “Somebody’s got to take these into town to the washateria,” my brother-in-law announced. Immediately, my husband spoke up. “We’ll take them.” It would be good to get down off of the mountain and be alone, I thought. We packed the three laundry baskets into the van and headed down the long gravel road six miles before meeting the highway that would take us into town.

 

After finding the laundromat, we hauled the baskets inside and began loading multiple washing machines. I noticed a strange looking man standing some distance away watching us. His silver hair and very white skin stood out amidst the other Hispanic customers. After several minutes, he walked up to me and asked what we were doing. I began explaining that we had escaped the storm and were staying up on the mountain with family members. “You know,” he began, “The State Park up here is taking in people from the lower coastline.” Really?! I listened intently. “In fact,” he continued, “I work at the State Park and can put your name in there. The cabins are going fast.” I hesitated at first but soon gave him our name and cell phone number. Could this be what I had prayed for? We hurried to pack up the dried towels and headed back up, going as fast as we could.

Doug then called the park’s registration. He learned the park had no cabins left but offered us a motel room with two beds and a bath. Yes, we were interested! First, Doug had to use the computer to fill in pages and pages to obtain a FEMA number. After what seemed like an hour, he had completed the necessary information only to find his submission rejected due to his social security number. Once again, he filled in page after page and this time the processed pages were accepted, using my social security number!


Mom didn’t protest as we said we were leaving for other accommodations. We said our goodbyes and once again headed down to the main highway. When we

arrived at the Lodge, the registration went smoothly. A worker pointed to the door at the side of a long building with multiple rooms. What would this be like? Had the stranger really entered our request? Where was he? Well, we would take time to look for him later. When we opened the door, there were two queen-sized beds and a bath with a large sink, shower, and tub! The end of the room opened onto a large deck overlooking a wooded area. Heaven! We had found a paradise!

 

The next day we walked to the Lodge for breakfast. Doug stopped at the desk and asked about Vern, the man who had guided us to this place. The concierge shook her head. “We have no one with that name working for us,” she said. Doug repeated the name. Again, she shook her head. Who was that white-haired man who spoke to us? Where did he come from? Where did he go? We shook our head and headed to the buffet awaiting us: scrambled eggs, biscuits, coffee, grits, and bacon! Wow! We ate, feeling so blessed and thankful for all the comfort and provision. How was it possible that someone could see our need not knowing who we were? How was it possible that we were now enjoying a place with serenity and space to sleep without disturbances? We wanted to find the man who had helped us but he seemed to have disappeared. Silently we thanked him, and we thanked God most of all.