Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Response - A Very Good Day

It's been 11 days since Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. We've all seen pictures that were hard to comprehend and our hearts have gone out to the people who's homes have been damaged.

Samaritan's Purse had disaster relief units heading North while the storm was still raging. Now they have 4 sites where they are working to help homeowners clear out the debris and find hope in the midst of despair. They are in Teterboro, Tom's River and Lynwood, New Jersey and in Lynbrook, NY on Long Island.

We were part of a group of 8 from our church who arrived in the NYC area last night to volunteer in the Long Island area. Thanks to our sister church, Queens Alliance, we are staying in a vacant house about a half hour from the Samaritan's Purse (SP) site. We're basically camping in this house but its warm and we have food and hot water. That's more than I can say for many who live in the affected areas! We are thankful!!!

Our 2 drivers have never driven in NYC before so that alone has been an adventure! I'm willing to let John do the driving! We have seen many gas stations that are closed and some with lines and police cars to keep order but it hasn't been as scary as what I'd heard. Maybe it's because things are getting better or maybe we just have t seen the worst of it.

This morning we drove to Lynbrook where SP is set up at a local church. We handed in our paperwork, had orientation and received our bright orange shirts. They say, "Helping in the Name of Jesus". After being assigned to a team leader and loading tools, we were off to our assignment for the day. We worked in a home about 6 blocks from the ocean and 2 blocks from a canal. Apparently, the canal flooded and the water came up about 5 feet high on this street. Every home in the vicinity got flooded.

Do something for me. Go out in your front yard and measure 5 feet from the ground and look around. What would be under water? Your car? All the cars in your neighborhood? Probably a good portion of the stuff in your garage? Your basement, certainly! Everything in it would likely be lost. Did it come high enough to enter your living area? What was lost there? Appliances, clothes, electronics, keepsakes? What are you going to do and how are you going to get everything out? Do you even know what needs to be done?

This particular homeowner lost his car in the storm. They also had water at about knee high on the main floor. They had already cleared out much of their furniture but we took out what was left and started cutting out the walls at 4 ft. high. We go higher than the water so we get everything that soaked up water and 4 ft is easier when putting in new Sheetrock. We took up the beautiful hardwood floors and piled everything on the curb. Our team of 15 worked all day to clear everything out.

SP has a saying, "The Quality of our work is our witness." We do very good work! Every exposed nail is pulled and the mess is swept up. There is even a team that comes in to spray everything to kill mold. We do our best to leave the home ready to be rebuilt. If we do a poor job, our witness for Christ is tarnished because we make it clear that we're there in His Name.

When we are done at a home, everyone on the team signs a study Bible which we present to the homeowners. We talk to them about why we are there, usually explaining the story of the Good Samaritan and how that Jesus told that story and then said to "go and do likewise".

As we pray with the homeowners, they are usually overwhelmed with the love that we've shown and the gift that we e given them. See, it isn't about the work we've done. It's about the love that we've shown by coming alongside them when they've felt alone and hopeless. The most important thing we can do on a job site is put our arm around them and hug them. Or ask, "Where were you when..." Or listen to them talk about how they're feeling. Quite simply, they are overwhelmed by Christ's love in us.

Today was a good day! We worked hard and have the aches to prove it!we went from being a group of people who attend the same church to being a team who respects and lives each other in a new way. We were given the opportunity for God to grow us - not everything on a job site I'd easy. Sometimes, God teaches us patience and grace for others! The best part though, was that we were able to show His love to a hurting family. A family that had problems (just like us) before this storm. My prayer is that the seeds we planted today will bring this family to Christ. As I told the homeowner before we left, "Jesus can heal anything!" I am praying that he learns that for himself and his family very soon.

Yes. Today was a very good day!

1 comment:

  1. Kim - You are so eloquent - I couldn't have said it better myself! Thanks so much for organizing this trip. I feel very blessed to have been a part of it and I know I will be volunteering again. God is good!