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New Kid on the Block
When we moved to St. George in January of 2017, we didn’t have a place to live. We’d seen options online that seemed probable but realized quickly that property managers often use old pictures to advertise homes. So many houses are gorgeous right after they’re built, but a few years’ worth of renters living in them resulted in dirty, unkept places. The smells within these homes ranged from strong pet odors (and hair everywhere, even in air return vents in the ceiling!), to obvious moldy/musty smells.
So, our home for the first 8 weeks in the southwestern desert was in a hotel. This arrangement with a 5-year-old was less than ideal, although it did force us to get out and spend time exploring area parks. And it was expensive. God has provided for our needs, but living in hotels eats through resources pretty quickly!
It was at this hotel that I met my friend, Linda. I had seen her once or twice around the hotel, but I distinctly remember seeing her and her husband on Valentine’s Day. In this city where we knew no one, my son, E. didn’t have any friends to share his little Spider Man valentines with. My suggestion to him was that he share with the housekeepers, who had now become quite familiar to us, as well as other people working in the hotel.
We were on our way out of the hotel and E. was delivering his valentines to all the “workers” that he saw along the way. (“Workers” is his term for employees of any trade – if we have a question about something, we better go “ask the workers”, since certainly they will have a solution to our problem.)
We got to the front desk of the hotel, and E. gave the girl at the desk a valentine. “Happy Valentine’s Day!”
At that same moment, this lady who I had seen earlier as well as her husband were there, retrieving a large package from behind the front desk. It was so big and heavy that they had gotten one of the hotel’s luggage carts to carry it back to their room. Linda’s husband interacted with E. and made a comment about the valentine.
My honest thoughts when I observed Linda and her hubby were, “Wow, she is SO thin, just like me. I wonder if she’s a mold avoider.” And, “That box is really big, I wonder if it’s an air purifier!”
The funny thing is that both of those “wonderings” were spot-on, as I would soon discover.
A day or so later, I was sitting outside by the pool at the hotel, soaking up some sunshine. February sun in southern Utah feels warm, and most days a light jacket is all that’s needed to stay warm, if that. Linda was also doing the same thing. Another “Hmmm…” in my mind because she also was just a sun bather and I never saw her swimming.
As we were sitting in our sun chairs, someone came out to enjoy the hot tub, and turned on the jets. Now the strong smell of chlorine blanketed the area where Linda and I were sitting. Each of us got up and moved to the other side of the pool.
“Okay, that’s it,” I thought, “I am going to say something.”
“Are you sensitive to chlorine?” I asked her.
“Yes, I am! Are you?” she replied.
And thus began our friendship!
I learned that Linda moved here from North Carolina where she and her husband had retired and purchased a nice, new home. Linda had been volunteering and mentoring women in a nearby prison when she started to get ill. It wasn’t until a vacation out west when she felt so much better that she began to put pieces together about her health and what was making her ill.
She feels that the mold in the prison made her very sick, although they had issues in their home’s crawlspace as well.
And the best part? Linda was a Christian, a sister in the Lord, who I could freely talk to and cry with about these challenges we were facing that virtually no one understood.
I shared with her my life and ministry woes. She shared with me the sadness in her heart at having to leave the women she was mentoring and telling about Christ. We had so much in common, even though she was a bit older than me — her son is two years younger than I am!
Linda and I kept up our little visits in the sun around the hotel pool as the weather allowed. I found out that, indeed, the large box Linda received was an air purifier for their brand-new home that they had purchased. Everything going along fine with their home purchase until Linda went furniture shopping. Overwhelmed with the strong chemicals in all the new furniture, Linda suddenly couldn’t handle the off-gassing in their new place. So, she purchased an air purifier and other products to help mitigate the VOCs from the off-gassing furniture and carpet in their new home. After running the air purifier for several weeks, Linda was finally able to move into her home and out of the hotel that had been their abode for 4 months.
Eventually we were also able to find a home, and for the past year and a half, Linda and I have enjoyed a friendship based on understanding each other at a level that is unsurpassed by most other relationships that we have. Sarah has joined in with our more recent get-togethers as she’s been able to, and Linda has even cared for Sarah’s children during hospital stays with Jotham. Linda and her husband have been such a blessing to both of us!