We all know the devastation that can come with a hurricane, and we all know the destruction that came to eastern parts of our state just weeks ago. Last weekend, a group from our church joined a larger effort to bring help and encouragement to fellow North Carolinians whose homes and lives have been severely affected by hurricane Florence. Fran & Craig George were among those who went. I asked Fran if she would write about the experience in this week’s blog post and she agreed. So much more could be said, but here is a glimpse…
Mrs. Doris’ house was a moldy wet mess. Everything had to go. Thankfully, some items had been saved as the family realized the waters were going to swallow the house, but of all that remained, almost nothing was left untouched by mold. The kitchen table, though badly damaged was still usable so we moved it to the carport, and on that one kitchen table were collected all the items we could salvage from inside. An entire house on one kitchen table. Everything else ended up in two very large piles in the front yard – floor boards, dry wall, insulation, the list goes on.
There was so much black mold that the entire team had to don breathing masks the entire day. Dry wall which was still wet and dripping, soaked insulation that looked more like pink raw meat than fluffy insulation filled every nook and cranny behind the walls. Hard work? You bet! But worth a Saturday in October? You can only imagine. And then suddenly, at the end of the day, in the midst of all this work to reduce the house to the studs, there stood Mrs. Doris on the threshold of the house she and her now deceased husband had built so many years ago.
With tears in her eyes she looked on as the last bit of dust from the torn out walls and floors was swept away. I walked out and talked to Mrs. Doris as the team finished up and she told me her story which included how her husband died suddenly from a blood clot in his lungs. She told me how the hardest things to lose in the house were her Sunday dresses. She told me how she was a country girl like me and we regaled each other with our own stories of big tractors and bushhogs and mowing pastures and loving Jesus. Amidst it all we laughed and cried.
As the sun began to set and our work was done, I saw a beautiful and strong Mrs. Doris, our new friend and sister. You see, Mrs. Doris loves Jesus. And that makes all the difference. What matters most to Mrs. Doris is not located in those piles in the front yard but her inheritance in heaven, kept eternally safe by the nail scarred hands. By then, the work was done, the house was empty and we gathered under the carport around Mrs. Doris to pray and say goodbye.
Brian Dixon read Psalm 46 as we all stood in a circle, arms around each other, sweaty, covered in “house”, loving people from Christ Baptist, people we usually only see in the choir or ushering or headed to student group or in the orchestra, all squeaky clean and well-dressed. As Brian read, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam…God is in the midst of her and she will not be moved. Be still and know that I am God…” as those words were read with Mrs. Doris in our circle, tears of gratitude flowing from her and from us, we realized a more beautifully dressed group of believers there had never been. This is the body of Christ. This is the loveliness of the One who loves us so. This is exactly what we wanted to the world to see. Mission Accomplished.