If almost being deported wasn’t bad enough, upon my successful entry into the UK, Andrew’s and my next task was to find the supposed apartment I was renting for my time here.
I had seen the ad for this apartment on Craigslist (already this sounds bad, but stick with me) a few weeks before. It seemed legitimate. And, honestly, I was desperate. I’d been looking for a place to stay for months. Nothing had worked out or seemed to be what I needed. I was so excited to see this ad. I emailed the owner asking if the apartment was still for rent. This “Steven Coalson” responded the next day with pictures of the apartment and more information. It seemed perfect. I was going to have internet, TV, a nice bathroom, even a heated towel rack! Now, for those who have been to England, you know. A heated towel rack is nice. So we went through the negotiations of rent, etc. It’s difficult trying to rent an apartment from out of the country because I can’t meet with the owner or view the apartment ahead of time. I am exactly in the kind of situation that makes me vulnerable to scam artists. And I totally fell for it, because there’s really no way to have prevented it. I sent him my 600 pound deposit (almost $1000), and never heard from him again.
So Andrew and I showed up where the address of my apartment was supposed to be. There was a 22A Leinster Gardens, but not a 22 Leinster Gardens. Sneaky, sneaky scam artist. Unsure whether or not that “A” made a difference in the address, we tried ringing for the porter and calling the individual flats at that address, but no luck. The rest of the street was entirely little hotels. We didn’t think it would be worth it, but we went to the hotel across the street to ask if the concierge recognized the address or owner of my apartment. He didn’t, of course, but he let us use the internet to see if the owner had contacted me (we were hesitant to believe that it was a scam–maybe he was on vacation and hadn’t seen his emails???) and he kept our luggage in the hotel’s luggage room while we again ventured out into the street to try every single address. As expected, nothing. No one knew of a 22 Leinster Gardens or a Steven Coalson.
Thankfully, we knew of a couple staying in London and Andrew had had the foresight to get their phone number just in case anything went wrong. The first hotel’s concierge, Angel, was so sweet. This time he let us use his phone to contact Leanne and Milo, and when we got their address he printed out maps for us and told us the best way to get there.
The concierge’s name was Angel. This was not a coincidence. Before I had left, my mom sent me an email saying that her verse for me while I was gone was Psalm 91:11: “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” I am not very superstitious, and I am exceedingly skeptical about things like this, but I just can’t believe that Angel was a coincidence.
Weary of our travels, Andrew and I left the hotel with our luggage once more and journeyed to Leanne and Milo’s house. We arrived exhausted from an emotional and physically demanding day. Leanne and Milo took us in and gave us the first food we’d had since the plane ride. Another couple, Sarah and Jimmy, whom we know from APU, happened to be staying at Leanne and Milo’s as well. We were suddenly welcomed into an environment of friends and comfort. I know my parents and friends were praying for us, and I just know that God’s angels had guided our travels that day so that in the end we arrived safe and in a better situation than we had anticipated.