I have now been on the road for exactly one year, and each day is always unfolding new challenges. Yet at the same time each day is opening new opportunities to bless those around me as well as being blessed myself. This journey has really shown me the true essence of real authentic hospitality. Many people know how to host someone, but few people know how to be hospitable. I guess what also helps in the situation is being able to see Christ’s hand in the matter as well. So let me tell you about a time when I had no place to stay for the evening and a radical situation presented itself.
These days my main thought is, “How much longer till I am finished?” It has been a struggle to focus on the current moment at hand. This particular day I was biking from Santa Maria CA, and venturing to San Simeon CA. I had tried for weeks to find a place to stay, calling churches, trying to network, hopped onto CouchSurfer, and even reached out to Facebook. Nothing was coming through, but at the same time I had no worries about it. I have been tested so much on this trip that at this point I just throw my hands up in the air and said, “Alright Jesus, your turn!”.
This day was a long coastal ride along Highway 1. Over giant cliffs, and what seemed to be a perpetual incline, slow motion ride. Two men walking across the United States caught my eye, so I pulled over and talked with them. They had no food, and we're very low on water, so of course I gave them two cliff bars and the rest of my water. I figured, I would be in a town before them so I could refuel much sooner. They allowed me to pray for them and give them words of encouragement before we parted ways.
As the day progressed on I finally get to a town called Cambria, CA. Which was about 8 miles from my intended town San Simeon. But I remember hearing God saying, “Go here”. As I am making my way to the fire station (because that is normally my go to if I don't have a place to stay for the night) I come across a church that is having people walk into it. Now this seemed weird to me because it was a Tuesday night. My curiosity got the best of me, so I waddled over to the people and asked what is going on. They proceeded to tell me that they are having a dinner, and that I was more then welcomed to join them. My thoughts were simple, “Food!”. They stopped me for a second and in sort of a whispered tone asked, “You do know this is a church service right?” not knowing my Christian background and possibly mistaking me for a new aged hippy or a dirty wonderer. But I couldn't help it, I blurted out, “I love Jesus!” and with that we were family.
Now this community was a little seasoned, so being the youngest in the room by a couple World Wars sparked many people's interest. The congregation gathered around me asking if I had gotten enough to eat (as my plate was piled high and I couldn't dig into it because there were so many questions going around). Eventually the pastor got up and stated talking, but stopped as I was mid mouth full and asked me to stand up and explain to everyone what it was that I was biking for. I jumped on the opportunity so quick that I still had my mouth full of food while I was speaking.
Once the service was over, and the organ recital was over (as my Grandpa puts it, referring to older folks talking about their kidney failure, or lung and heart problems) it was time to pack up. As I was leaving I was approached by a lady who asked if I had a place to stay for the evening. I told her that I didn't but I had planned on going to the fire station. She lite up as bright as a light house and insisted that I come stay with her and her husband at their house. I wasn’t going to turn down a comfy bed, so I agreed.
Once I arrived to their house they were welcoming with open arms from the very beginning. They made me feel as if I was their own son. They were offering me food, talking with me and inviting me to watch the women’s basketball final, giving me ice cream, and diving deep into theology and their life story. The conversations could of gone on for days.
This is where true hospitality lies. Laying down all of your own personal needs to make someone, whether a stranger, friend, or a family member, feel like they are the only thing that matters and you go above and beyond the call of duty. These people had never met me before, never heard about me, have no friends that know me, didn’t ask to see my website or any form of authentication about my nonprofit, and yet they saw a need and fulfilled it.
I wish that I could talk about all of the wonderful host because this is just one story of hundreds that I have experienced, but that will just have to wait till I write my book!