Louisiana Flood Relief Team Update
Before two feet of water rushed down the street and filled every room, a family had grown and flourished here. I could almost see it. Even as it now stood empy. My suspicion was later confirmed as I shook the hands of Chuck and Mary Ann, 83 and 79 years old. They have been owners of this home for over 40 years.
They smiled and thanked us heartily for being part of putting their home back together. Throughout the next three days I watched them pick pieces of glass out of their lawn, heard the story of their evacuation, witnessed proud smiles as they told of their four daughters and swapped stories of God’s faithfulness in hard times. We also shed tears together over all that was lost: recipes, Bibles, furniture. But the thing I will remember most was the life that still remained in each of their eyes and in the Louisiana orange tree that stood proudly in their backyard.
Received as a Christmas gift and planted together by the couple, the tree remained rooted in the midst of sadness and loss. It still bore fruit. As the orange juice ran down my chin, I was struck by the simple ways that God reminds us of His faithfulness and the miracle of bolstered faith in those that suffer. Even as Ms. Mary Ann and I sorted through the options for paint colors, God was there.
My impact on the Barnard’s house was small, mostly painting and sweeping, but the impact of this couple on me was huge. At the end of the week, we hugged goodbye and Ms. Mary Ann spoke words of life and encouragement as she tucked another perfect orange into my backpack for the road. Although their house won’t ever be exactly as it was, it’s being restored as God provides emotionally and physically for them. And my new friends Mr. Chuck and Ms. Mary Ann are like a trees planted by streams of water, which yield fruit in season and whose leaves do not wither—just like their orange tree.
Jess Giah is Executive Assistant to Pastor Paul Schoolmeesters. She was part of the November 2016 Louisiana Flood Relief Team. Jess is also passionate about staff development and creating systems that empower people and make us more efficient in our work of spreading the gospel.
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