Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels with out knowing it.
Louisiana is accustomed to holding tight and gripping hard. Winds blow in a familiar breath-holding way. August 29th, exactly 7 years ago, a category 5 foe named Katrina made her way. She upheaved the ocean onto forbidden banks. Infrastructures of protection could not contain the mountains of wet forcefully dumped in the southern region of our country. Floods came. Tears ﬂowed. Life lost. Hope on hold.
When Katrina decided her visit was done, she left behind her haunting ﬁngerprints of destruction. The misplaced ran to the Superdome in the heart of their city. Hundreds of thousands of people were bussed to Houston and San Antonio. Churches ﬁlled and school cafeterias turned into make shift bedrooms, one cot at a time. As the busses rolled down Interstate 10, jammed packed with passengers that looked like they were being shipped from war torn countries, San Antonio prepared. My husband is a ﬁrst responder. The ﬁre department committed hundreds of its best to greet the stranded and organize a small city of the displaced within a gigantic city of generosity.
Sometimes when the wind blows it is more than a rustling of trees. It’s a movement of God.
My phone rings. A stranger on the other line. Frantic and far away, a voice asks, “Is this Stacy Buck?” I say yes. She says, “My name is Rachel. I met your husband at the evacuation center. I can’t ﬁnd my family. My husband and mother-in-law are lost. I was separated from them in Houston. I am tired from searching. It has been two days without them. Five days since leaving Louisiana, no shower, no privacy. Just noise.” The phone gets quiet yet the buzz behind her echoes. She tells me she’s taking a cab to a hotel. Desperate, weary and alone a total stranger continues, “Mrs. Buck, your husband said you would help me. I just need a few hours of sleep, will you come get me in the morning and help me look for my family?”
The lost gets found.
A day passes, my church adopted a shelter designated as “Senior Shelter”. I drop my child at mother’s day out and my gut tells me to go. I hold my breath thinking of Rachel and her distress. How great the needs must be. I enter the shelter seeing many familiar faces. My church. Not the four walls, but the hands, feet, and heart of my church. This shelter is cot-to-cot full of the elderly. My heart beats. I don’t really know what to do. A question runs through my mind, “What is your greatest need?” I began to ask.
To Edna and Arlene (a 50 year old daughter and an 80 year old mother), I ask, “What is your greatest need?” They were without some hygiene products. We drove and got the items needed. We stopped at Sally’s Beauty Supply so they could get their minds off of their loss. A thought moved through my heart, “They care about their hair but God cares about where they lay their head.” With my husband’s permission and the permission of the shelter, we brought this mother and daughter home. A quiet place, a shower of their own, a real meal around a real table. A soft place to lay their heads. Less than 24 hours later we were taking them to the airport for waiting family members in Las Vegas. The plane tickets purchased by a passerby who asked me, “What is their greatest need?”
This same day, I also met Katherine, 75. She sat outside with her hands over her ears. I ask her the question I was becoming more comfortable with, “What is your greatest need?” Tears fall. “Quiet. I need quiet.” With permission, I took Katherine to my favorite place of refuge, my mom’s house. We stopped and purchased clean undergarments and clothes. She asked if I could assist her with a shower. She whispered, “I can’t afford to fall.” I held my breath. My mind raced. I am a total stranger, unskilled in this area, untrained in assisting those needing this kind of assistance. Her eyes pleaded yet her head hung as she gripped on to dignity. God was near. Katherine clean and quiet, slept. Hours passed. Peace came.
There was one section of the shelter where 12 residents from the assisted living, Mederie Manor, huddled together. They were anxious, clinging together the way a family clings to their beloved. I remembered I had met two representatives from a local nursing home earlier that morning. I found them and told them about this group of 12. That afternoon, the 12 loaded a bus and made it to a quieter, more private temporary placement. I can still see them waving out their windows.
There are angels among us, don’t miss the opportunity to entertain them. There doesn’t have to be a hurricane for us to ask, “What is your greatest need?” and do our best to meet it.
This post is part of our Hospitality series, featured at Mom Heart throughout the month of September. Click on the Hospitality image in the sidebar to see all the posts in this series so far!