I awoke early in the morning to people outside in the courtyard. I overheard someone saying they needed money to get a part for his car.
I washed up in the bathroom and packed up the buggy. At 6AM I headed into the cathedral.
It was quiet and peaceful. I found the man who needed money and was able to help him out.
After Mass I talked with Fr. James and thanked him for all the help. I also asked him for a blessing.
Outside Gulfport I met Floyd. We headed to McDonald’s for some cheese burgers. Floyd was headed to the bank to cash his paycheck. I gave him some money for bus fare. He was a really cool guy and I really enjoyed hanging with him. He told me to be careful in New Orleans, a thing I have heard over and over again the last few days. He also told me he would be worried about me. I gave him a prayer card. We exchanged information and parted ways.
I met Rick.
He had passed me earlier in the day on bicycle. I said hello but he kept going. We met again outside Burger King. He told me he thought I was “tripped out” earlier and kept riding. I was actually on the phone with a friend. He asked me if I was a christian. We headed into BK and got a meal.
Rick is from Seattle and has been on the street in Gulfport for 3 years. Before that, he was traveling the coast just after Katrina hit. We talked about the aftermath and impact of the storm. Rick pointed out Katrina displaced a lot of people from their homes, and some are still homeless. He told me people in the area needed prayers.
We talked about all kinds of things. We had a great time. Rick gave me pointers for the road ahead and told me to be careful in New Orleans. He also told me he would be worried about me. Its pretty moving hearing that from complete strangers out on the road. I gave Rick a few things and we parted ways.
I put in the miles as the sun went down. I was on sidewalk, so I didn’t mind traveling towards dark.
At 8:30pm I arrived at Holy Family Parish just off the beaten path. I think its the latest I have arrived at a church without getting in touch with someone first. I was a little hesitant going there, but I’m glad I did.
I met Joe, the youth minister as he was leaving the property. He asked me if I was OK, and I told him my circumstances. He immediately gave me permission to camp on the property. He also assured me he would let the pastor know, as well as the church ladies for the morning! I was so thankful! Joe gave me his phone number in case of an emergency.
The grounds were beautiful, and I set up my hammock near a fountain in front of the church. A friendly neighbor wandered over on his golf cart. I told him I had permission to stay and asked if the spot was OK for him. He told me to “chill man, you’re cool.” I think I needed to hear that. He also told me I had a great spot.
He doubled back on his beach cruiser bicycle and we chatted. His name was Richard and offered me whatever help I needed. Shower, food, clothes. It was late, and I needed rest. Richard told me maybe we would run into each other again.
I fell asleep in my hammock. I can’t even remember when I last slept in it. I think it might have been in Alabama!