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‘I’ll be home for Christmas’

Bus driving in the snow

In part two of this true story, Cheryl Bistayi reflects on her brief encounter with Vincent and wonders if he ever made it home to Honduras.

Allendale: Valley UMC

To read the first half of this true story, click here.

It’s Christmas, and I am home in my jammies with the fireplace on and ever so grateful to be where I am right now.

We have been on the road, blessed to have places to go and people to see, but it is okay now to sit still. When I sit still, I ponder. And I keep thinking about Vincent David.

All the folks I have met and been in ministry with through the years have touched me, but Vincent keeps nudging me for some reason.

It was heightened by the last call when the social worker said that Vincent said I was his amiga and had invited him to spend Christmas with us.

The part about the invitation was not true. He was in New Jersey, and we are in Michigan.

We were not even going to be home on Christmas as we were planning to go to our son’s home.

But among the untruths were many true things, so I said what I initially believed. Vincent was not malicious but misguided, so I supported anything that got him somewhere warm and safe.

The social worker in New Jersey helped Vincent get a ticket to Florida. I had hoped that would happen. I hope he is there now. But I do not know. He was traveling on Christmas from one home-less place to another because he is homeless.

So, sitting next to the fireplace, my mind wanders, and he lingers in my mind and heart.

He lingers there as I again hear the Christmas story of a shelter-less man and a pregnant woman looking for a place to stay for Christmas without anyone offering.

I feel like all those people who did not offer their homes because I am one of those people. I did not offer Vincent a home.

I wonder what would have been different if I had said, “Sure, he’s my friend. Here’s his ticket. Tell him we will be at the bus station!” We will never know.

In this Christmas story, someone else was the innkeeper.


The phone rang last night. It was an odd number, so I didn’t pick it up. No message was left. The same number rang this morning, and there was a message.

“Cheryl, this is Vincent David.”

He then proceeded to speak in Spanish in what I believed, after many replays, was an explanation of his journey followed by a thank you!

But I needed to be sure.

I called the Holy Family Catholic Church in Novi because they minister to Hispanic and Latino communities. I asked if someone there would listen to and verify my message. They agreed, so I went over there, and my interpretation was pretty accurate.

The message explained where he had been, where he is now, and where he is headed.

He made it home to Honduras!

Vincent then ended with what I thought I had heard . . . with thanks and love, with wishes for my husband and family. It was the same spirit I sensed in him when we first met.

This deeply affected me, deep enough for tears.

Vincent gave Cheryl this necklace pendant before leaving Detroit. ~ photo courtesy Cheryl Bistayi

Countless people have touched me over the years, but meeting Vincent in a short hour or two seemed to touch something deep within me. I saw a vulnerability representative of too many people on this planet. I did not know how to respond to it. I did not know how he became so vulnerable. I did not know what his role was and what was mine.

I just knew we both needed to do something!

I might have always wondered if what I did at that bus stop in Detroit was a help or a hindrance.

But this phone call told me that what we did together was hear each other’s hearts. And I hope to rest in that truth.

So, I end as I began:

With his half-English and my half-Spanish, we met in the middle and found each other, and what we found was a fast friendship that I shall never forget. I am pretty sure God was our interpreter.

Thank you, Vincent David. I will not forget you.

Gracias. Dios bendiga. Vaya con Dios.


Last Updated on January 9, 2024

The Michigan Conference