…. Heavy equipment and men wearing safety gear covered the northeast corner of Landbank’s parking lot. The pink foamy earplugs kept in my dash dulled the jackhammers reverberations but could not stop the construction dust.
The sign-in area on the first floor was managed by a sole security officer. 12th on the list, I noted the time as 8:15am. I rode up the elevator alone and stopped in the restroom. The gray walls, gray lights, clear mirror and clean stalls looked unchanged from my visit on February 15th. My face had healed some in that time, but my reflection still surprised me.
Everything looked faded, even my brightly colored outfit. I fixed my hair and washed my hands before going into the office.
The receptionist calmly sat behind the desk as an older lady in her Sunday clothes cussed about how the program was not helping those who needed it the most. “These houses should be available to the people who have lived here their whole lives, not just folks who want to come in and change everything.”
Pulling her elbows back from the counter she had been leaning on, she turned and pointed at no one. “You are giving money to folks that aren’t even from here, this just doesn’t make sense!”
I stepped up and asked for a new application from the same receptionist I had seen on February 15th. Her nametag said Shurlanda. I smiled at her and followed the woman out who was still yelling, but now using the name of Jesus in a disrespectful way. I began to pray for wisdom on what to say during the elevator ride with her. The first floor button was lit and I said, “You know, all things work for the good of those who love The Lord and are called according to His promises.”
All the frustration and anger over not qualifying for a home she may have once lived in showed as she turned her attention towards me. “They did not even give us a chance. How are we ever going to get ahead if we never get a chance.”
“Can I pray for you?” I asked?
She said she did not care. I waited until we had both signed out at the security desk. “Father, thank You… hear Your daughter’s prayers… provide a way for her and her family… thank You for protecting Your daughter from what could be a money pit.”
She cut my prayer short and said, “Money pit, yeah, I like that, those houses are just going to be money pits. We don’t need that, let someone else have them. You can have all those money pits.”
I got it, she did not feel like blessing me or anyone else with her words. She was hurting like I would have been if my parents had not stepped in financially.
I called my parents back with my bank routing information and drove to my home bank. On the way my tire light came on. I thought, even if I get a flat, AAA can get it changed in an hour or less. I am not going to miss anything. I nervously told the teller why I was there. She had me take a seat next to a table with coffee and Little Debbie cakes. A loan officer said it could take up to four hours and to either sit in the waiting area or come back later. For the next two hours, I filled out Landbank’s paperwork and checked my texts. The money had been sent, I just had to wait for its’ arrival.
The bank did not have wi-fi and I was getting hungry. I did a search on my phone and found a service shop that honored my tire warranty. It was 6 minutes away and next to a Mexican restaurant serving a good enough lunch to draw a crowd. While they worked on airing, balancing, and rotating my tires, I enjoyed an above average burrito with a couple glasses of water.
My lunch took as long as the service and when I walked back into the bank a half hour later, the same loan officer said the moneys had just come in.
I sat in a chair facing her desk as she made notarized copies of the deposit. The woman handed me a copy of the transfer with a separate copy of my bank statement. She was gracious enough to give me an old folder to place everything in and I thanked her for all the help.
I could not stop smiling as I drove towards Landbank. The tire light that had been on earlier was now off, my belly was full, my paperwork finished, the money was in the bank, and my parents were standing behind my decision to renovate Primrose House.
When I got to Landbank, the construction workers were taking a break in the portion of the lot they had sectioned off with caution tape. I found a place to park in the back and hurried in, grateful there was no dust. I just felt grateful regardless and smiled at the men behind the yellow tape. It was a good day to be at Landbank, it was a good day to be alive.
…. To be continued….