Jacksonville Florida, what a change! The humidity hit us like a wall! The bugs! The strong sulfur smell of the St Johns River! We arrived late after a stormy flight from California. Lightening zig- zagged the sky creating crazy illumination within the plane. We were delivered to our hotel on the beautiful but stinky river by a stiff and grumpy cabby. He didn’t seem appreciate our over-size luggage each weighing over 100 lbs. Little did he know that they contained all our household goods, clothes and baby clothes!
The Navy had on base housing… but not for students… Don was there for training. We got a newspaper, made some calls to get pricing and locations. We bought a map. The challenge was to find a rental within walking distance to a bus stop and one that actually went to the naval base without too many transfers. Since we knew nothing about Jacksonville, buses, or the military base it was pretty overwhelming. Next morning we took a cab to look at some of the units in our price range. It was sad. They were all small, ugly, dirty and gloomy… After looking at five different apartments, we asked the cabby to just drop us off at the nearest park. We were pretty overwhelmed. Neither of us had ever spent much time in a large city. Growing up in a small Northern California town had not prepared us for City life especially without a car.
I remember sitting next to Don on a bench with tears of despair getting the better of me. Eight months along, and no place to live… Then I thought of the Christmas Story. I thought of Mary and Joseph, how they didn’t have a place, and how God provided. Don reassured me, “Ingrid – we’ll find something. Let’s go back to the hotel and start fresh in the morning.”
Next day we called another cab, and explained our need and asked him to take us to another rental. This one too was ugly, dirty and dark… but then as we drove off this cabby who was more understanding, mentioned that he thought he had seen a 4 rent sign a couple of streets down.
True! There was a sign on a lovely two-story Victorian home. We said, “Why not check it out?” This turned out to be our home for the summer. It was a lovely little apartment. Clean and bright and in our price range. There were three other building occupants. The first was the widowed landlady who inhabited the entire ground floor. Then on the second floor, with us, a lovely spinster lady in her 70’s had a room, the other apartment was occupied by a seamstress lady in her late 50’s or early 60’s. All three ladies reminded me of the sleeping beauties fairies. They hovered around us. It was like we had three grandmothers all awaiting the birth of our baby. They were so sweet helpful and caring – just what this teenager needed.
One day after our daughter was born we were taking a nice walk to the park, we walked around and I sat on the bench looked up and realized it was the exact bench where I had shed the tears of despair and then trusted God to find us a home. Knowing that as His child He would not desert me.
Oh, and the bus Don needed to catch every morning at 4 AM stopped RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE HOUSE, no transfers required.Now that was a wow! God truly IS great!