Friday, June 13, 2008

In just one week

So much can happen (or change) in just one week. A week ago I was looking forward to all that Summer brings and the many plans I had made. Today I am just thankful. Thankful for so many little things.

Last Tuesday morning, our community experienced a horrible and much more devastating flood than anyone expected.
I have lived through the effects of earthquakes, wild fires, and even riots, but never a flood. There is something very very different with water flowing wherever it chooses to go and absolutely nothing anyone can do about it.

My husband and I moved about the community on Monday evening trying to reach everyone in our church who lives in the flood zone. It was amazing to watch the community work together to help one another prepare their basements, empty their refrigerators before losing power, sandbag their property, and safely evacuate their homes. It was also difficult to watch families leave their homes not knowing what they would find when they returned.

Monday night we had trouble sleeping. We prayed for those we helped that day, for those we didn't, and for a community we are trying to reach.

Tuesday morning we awoke early. There was one family we had been concerned about. We threw on some clothes and headed out the door before our children were even awake to check on them. We spent most of the morning helping to keep their garage from flooding. At one point I was carrying flood water saturated sandbags being brought up from their already flooded basement out to their garage. My friend looked at me when I went to grab the first bag as if to say, "oooh, don't get yourself all wet and ucky" and I quickly told her, "give me the bag and don't worry about it." I told her, "there is nothing else I would rather be doing". Her basement was flooded along with her washer, dryer, and freezer, I had nothing to complain about.

We spent the rest of the day delivering water, retrieving ice chests and ice for neighbors, and checking on others whose homes we could get to. We invited an older couple from the church over for dinner who had been evacuated from their home. After dinner my husband and I went back to relieve the family we had been with earlier in the day from watching over their home so that they could go and shower.

On Wednesday morning my husband and I again woke up early, dressed and jumped in the car to see what had happened over night. Much of the water had receded quite a bit, and the news of the devastation was just beginning.

My husband spent some time in prayer that morning. I loved what he shared with me. He said, "God has called me to be a shepherd. This is exactly what I plan on doing. I will continue to go out and try and get to as many people as I can. Yes, there is much opportunity for ministry at times like this, but it is not my title or even some organized church effort that is needed, but instead the ministry is to be like Jesus and truly care for the people one by one and let the church be the church." And that is exactly what he has tried to do and what the church body (both ours and others in the community) have done.

Our phones have rung constantly over the last three days of people who have been blessed by others in the church or by those who are looking for someone to touch.

The difficult thing is that we are going to flood again, probably on Saturday evening. We are praying it won't be as bad and that the rains stay away. Next week, the cleanup will continue. Some have a very long road ahead. We will take every effort as a church to bring some relief. I was in contact with two women today who I could see the weariness on their faces over the uncertainty and the huge work that was in front of them all while not living in their own home. I agreed to walk alongside them through prayer and cleaning throughout the weeks to come.

I have been praying Psalm 33 today...

1 Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
2 Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
3 Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.
4 For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.
5 The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.
6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars ; he puts the deep into storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him.
9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.
10 The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
11 But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.
13 From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth-
15 he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.
16 No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.
20 We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you


Judy said...

I love the passage. Thank you for sharing.

Susanne said...

Chris, I'm so sorry your town is going through this. Praying for you and your hubby as you minister to those in need.

Lori said...

Oh Chris I weep when I read this, but I see God's hand working through you and your husband so I rejoice! I pray for the many family that are affected.

Beth@playinwiththepaulsens! said...

thank you.

Linda said...

Oh Chris, our hearts ache with yours over such loss and devastation. We will hold you in our prayers as you minister to those in need. And we pray that there will be no more flooding.
Blessings to you dear one.

Sarah@Life in the Parsonage said...

Praying for you and all yours too. Thank you for sharing that Psalm, I'm gonna start in on that one :)

Lisa Spence said...

A true shepherd's heart...

May the Lord use you, your husband and your church family to show the love of Jesus to those enduring the flood. May the physical flood be a metaphor for a spiritual flood of His presence and power and may many seeds be planted to reap a great harvest for His kingdom!

Mocha with Linda said...

I've had you on my heart every time I've seen Iowa on the news this week. I love your heart and your ministry of walking through this with those affected. I pray your ministry and that of others like you will have an even greater impact than the flooding did. It touched the possessions - you are touching the soul.

Much love,

Melissa said...

My town has endured 2 floods in 6 years. It was devastating. But I saw God rise above the flood waters. Thankful that He's using His people to reach out to others. Recovery is long, but God is good!

Mrs.Naz@BecomingMe said...

I am so sorry Chris. I am praying and thank you for sharing your beautiful scripture prayer.

Cyndi said...

Oh, my word! We have been watching this and praying for all involved. I will continue to pray for all of you who are serving, that you will draw on the 1 Pet. 4:11 "strength that God's supplies" as you minister to the flood devastated areas. From how you described your actions and your husband's insights, it's easy to see that you are there for such a time as this. Much love to all of you. {{{hug}}}

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing. My extended family all lives around Iowa City and the stories are just heart breaking to me.

kari and kijsa said...

thank you- for all you have said and reminded us of

kari & kijsa

Christine said...

It's times like these that the feeling of community gets so much stronger. No one wants to go through that, but the church and your neighborhoods will hopefully be closer on the other side. I was in Miami in my sophomore year of college during Hurricane Andrew in '92 and I saw that firsthand. I will pray for your community.

Jenileigh said...

I am so sorry that you and your community are experiencing this. I love however the spiritual eyes that you and your husband are looking through. Your outlook through Christ is so strengthening to us viewers. What an awesome example you are setting. Many prayers and big hugs!