I had a chance to wear my pastor hat briefly yesterday morning. I worked on Sunday’s teaching from the time I woke up, about 5:30 or so, to around ten. Then I had to kind of slap the Dad hat on top of the pastor one when Nathan and April stopped by to talk with us.
When they left I switched over to the disaster relief hat, and we headed to Alvin to check on our Seaside team that has been working there every Wednesday since the storm. I finally heard the “Why Alvin?” story. Seems our team leader Stephanie was driving up Highway Six, praying for just the right place God wanted the, to focus ministry on. In Alvin, they stopped at a red light and prayed again. Then they saw a police officer, and in a flash if insight decided to follow him. He apparently went inside a bank, so they followed him right in and asked him where he thought the most help was needed in Alvin. He directed them to this particular neighborhood. Sounds like a God thing, doesn’t it? Yep.
I finally met the pastor of the local church there in the Alvin community. I have spoken to Pastor Domingo on the phone several times, and we have texted information back and forth, so it was good to put a face with the voice. I let him know that we now had access to some work teams through the North American Mission Board’s Send Relief organization that could help folks in the neighborhood much out their homes. He invited me to join him in a drive through the community to look for people working. He showed me the church and the issues it had. Contractors he has talked to have told him it needs some more structural posts in the center of the building. Perhaps the biggest concern is that the sub-floor on one side of the room appears to have begun a collapse. The entire side of the room slants downward from the center. Not sure what it will take to get that fixed. Next door to the church was a family hard at work on their house. Here was a home that needs serious help with being cleared out and gutted. However, they also need a loving hand.
On the one hand, here at around four weeks after the storm they have still not been able to remove everything from their home, much less get the moldy walls down. Why? The husband and provider works in Afghanistan and had to get special permission from his company to come home for a few days to help. He is only there for a few more days before he has to fly back. Any heavy lifting that has been done began a day or so ago when he finally got home and a family member was able to come help. It will stop when he leaves, because like him, everyone else in the family has to return to work. He asked me if I wanted to see the inside of the house, so I joined him on a personalized tour.
The house itself is in really bad shape. There are even holes in the floor that they had nailed pieces of wood over because they had nearly fallen through. Lots of furniture was still inside the house, with belongings piled high on top to try to keep them out of the flood waters as they rose. All evidence of the need for some serious, strong help. As we entered one particular room I could sense a change in my host’s demeanor. A large piece of plywood separated the room from the rest of the house. A hospital bed piled with belongings was the focal point, and the other bedroom furniture appeared intact, carefully protected in place. Sports memorabilia from the Rockets and Astros still hung on the walls. With a tear in his eye my guide told his story. Their son had been in an accident and was confined to bed. This bed. They had cared for him for ten years here in their home, and about a month ago the son died. They are reluctant to let anyone else touch the room’s contents until they have a chance to go through everything, piece by piece. Hence the need for a loving hand as well.
The family does have a very large yard, so they would like for a team to help carry out the precious belongings and place it in the yard so they will have a chance to go through it as they can. I understand that desire. I recall the days we spent after Hurricane Ike, in the front yard of our house and in the garage of the homes we stayed in, painstakingly sorting through “new discoveries” of our own precious memories. I am praying that the team to be sent over will be gentle and caring as well as burly and strong. And I’m praying that Pastor Domingo will be able to find some more specific homes that are willing to accept the help that is being offered to them.
I have to say that I am very proud of our Seaside Team. They fed 150+ people. In some pretty extreme heat. Some they gave out plates to while parked on a street corner. Where it was pretty hot. Then they moved to the parking lot of the local washateria and gave out some more. Oh and did I mention that it was hot? And then they hand-delivered meals to three different apartment complexes. They also gave out cleaning supplies and personal toiletries like soap and toothpaste and deodorant. Oh and hugs. They handed out hugs freely, too. Sweaty hugs full of love, because, you see, it was hot. 96 degrees hot. On their way to the site Stephanie told me it was threatening rain, so she prayed that God would send his sun to shine down all day. It would be enough to ask for a nice cloud cover and a cool breeze with no actual rain. He often does get specific when he answers prayer.
Next Wednesday the plan is to continue with food and supply distribution, but they will also bring an extra trailer with clothes and a few more volunteers to man it. The people are beginning now to ask about clothing, so it is time to initiate that portion of the relief effort.
On our way home we stopped by the Boyer’s house in Dickinson to check on them. As we drove up a wrecker was loading up Rita’s car. The insurance company had just officially totaled it. Don is already driving a rental, and she is now fourth in line for a rental, but until then she is figuring out “alternative means” of transportation. She has a great attitude, though. One would think she just might know Jesus …
Different hat. While at Rita’s I got a call from the fire department. Two of our crews had just been on a pretty horrific accident call. Trish was just letting me know so I could check in on them when I can to make sure they are effectively processing it. I’ll have to keep my ear to the ground on that one.
Switch hats. We stopped by Sam’s and WalMart on the way home to pick up some specific supplies uncovered by the Alvin team.
Switch hats. After a shower and some supper I settled in next to my wife to try to stay awake long enough to watch some of the Astros game. That was … a full day.
2 Peter 3:8-9 says, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Father, be with the relief team sent to the Alvin home today. Endow them with supernatural strength laced with supernatural compassion as they deal with that family. Amen.