Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How to Get a Free Hotel Night in the Scottish Highlands!

We were traveling through Europe doing some different ministry when we headed up to the Highlands of Scotland on our way to their Outer Isles for our wedding anniversary during a short window of time we had available.

You just have no idea how interesting something is going to be when you stop to take a look, which is what happened when we decided to go to Stirling Castle on the way. What was planned as a quick stop for a couple of hours turned into the whole day when we discovered how much there was to see there, including the history of King James whose name became synonymous with the King James Bible.

Our extended visit at the castle, along with a quick look at old Nessie on Loch Ness, put us into dire straits when we got deep into the Highlands. It was high summer when the sun way up north there only dips a bit around the horizon and never really goes dark. Losing track of time in these conditions is really easy, which we did and found ourselves in the middle of nowhere late at night—though you couldn’t tell it was night—with that sinking feeling all hitting our stomachs. "Man we haven’t eaten anything all day!" Caught up in the activities and adventures we just forgot to eat.

Things were not looking good as we were hours up into the wilderness with nothing around and time was slipping away. The hopes of coming across anything that might be open in these remote parts to grab a bite seemed extremely dim.

Praying for something to alleviate our growling stomachs didn’t seem to bring much relief; no manna flakes appeared on our windshield so we drove on heading north towards our destination. Right before the road was about to take a steeper hike into even higher mountainous country I noticed a little dwelling we passed on the side of the road. There was no sign or anything so I didn’t have any idea even what the place was—it just looked like an old home or building--but the Holy Spirit impressed me to turn around and go back to it.

I had no idea what to expect. If anything, it could be empty. It turned out however to be an old B & B that had formerly closed, but just had been bought by a young woman and her husband that very week who were renovating it and had just happened to have put up a couple tables for eating.

We asked if they were open for dinner but we were out of luck. But then the woman there remembered that she had made some soup and happened to just have a few bowls left of it if we were interested. Anything tastes great when starved so I don’t know if it was some of the best split pea soup we ever have had or that we were just so famished that it seemed like it. Whatever the case, we filled ourselves with as much soup and bread as we could and then God opened up a door as the young lady sat down and talked with us. The Lord gave us a great opportunity to interact and share Christ with her for some time in a pretty relaxed atmosphere. God had obviously had more in mind for us than only food and we rejoiced at His hand displayed in the situation.

When we shared where we were headed she gasped and said, “You best be moving on. You have a lot of territory to cover to make it that far while it is still today.”

We rejoiced for a while at what the Lord had just done while we drove and drove towards Ullapool, Scotland where we had a room booked for the night. But then rejoicing turned into yawns after a while when extreme road weariness set in.

We arrived after 11:00pm looking forward to a good night’s sleep but no one would respond to our knocking on the door of the hotel and the door was locked. Nor could we get an answer when we tried calling the clerk’s personal number that had been emailed to us with the reservation.

We kept trying for quite some time to no avail. We decided to get out of the cold and huddled in the car but it didn’t take long to realize we’d be dealing with hypothermia in these northern conditions (we were near almost artic territory) if we slept in the car.

I got out and started walking around in the parking lot praying in tongues hoping to get warm and get some kind of answer from on high.

After I walked around for a while I sensed the Lord leading me around to the back of the hotel where I found a back door slightly ajar. I pulled at it and it opened and next thing I knew I was inside the hotel. I walked up to the front desk and there lying on the counter was a paper with our names on it, and a key to the room we’d booked, but no clerk.

I called Mercedes and Patrick in and we decided to just head to the room since we had prepaid anyway. We actually got a good night's sleep in spite of the weird conditions of no desk clerk anywhere to be seen.

The next morning we ran into the chagrinned desk clerk who asked if we were the Marleaux’s. “Yes” I said, and then I asked “and so where were you last night?” He profusely apologized and then confessed that he had drank a bit to much beer and fell asleep while stepping out for a moment over at a friend's, basically totally left his work post, he explained, as his face turned as red as a boiled lobster.

He then asked quizzically, “But how did you get in the room?” “Well, that was a God thing,” I told him as I explained what happened while witnessing to him.

He looked quite amazed and didn't know how to respond really and then just said “Listen, everything is free for you: Your stay--we'll refund the whole thing--go eat all the food you want. Just sit down and order breakfast—eat all you want; it’s all on the house.”

Those Scottish breakfasts aren't cheap and are more like a dinner with more food than you can imagine: Eggs, sausage, potatoes, vegetables, beans, bread, juice, coffee and on and on. We ate our fill and rejoiced in how the Lord had turned two tough situations into major blessings: meeting our needs at the renovating B&B and now giving us a free room and food there in that hotel in the Highlands of Scotland—Highlands can also mean high-priced so a little divine comp on food and stay here and there is certainly welcome. The Lord met our needs and turned everything around for good and then some, while opening the opportunity to witness about His grace as well.

Glory to God !!!