Disaster Results in Unity
Merle went with Samaritan's Purse to Man-o-War Cay and Elbow Cay in the Abaco Islands, Bahamas, to help with clean-up and repair to some churches and homes affected by category 5 Hurricane Dorian from September 2019. It was hard work. Additionally, his phone died the second week (there wasn't much internet anyway), and a friend was able to give him an old replacement phone when he returned. Unfortunately, he lost important information and photos.
"On Man-o-War Cay, I learned the three denominations of churches on the island had been meeting together under the one roof that was still standing. When speaking with one of the local church members, he told me the storm had brought a deeper level of unity. In fact, he was suggesting to the leaders that perhaps they should continue to meet together once a month to hang on to the new level of unity that had happened as a result of the disaster. We were involved in debris removal up and down the streets, including 10 feet off the street. We would clean whole lots of certain people. There are so many needs, it must be difficult to decide who gets help. There is no power on the island and all electricity is provided by individually-owned generators.
In Elbow Cay, there had been teams before us that had already cleaned up the exterior of the church, put on a new roof, and replaced windows that had been blown out. Pastor Ricky, the pastor of the church, and his wife were sleeping in the church because their home was being gutted due to water damage and mold. Previous teams had put blue tarps on the roof of his parish home to keep out rain. We cleaned up the inside of his home, which is next to the church, picking up and piling debris into a huge pile twice as big as your kitchen in the yard to be picked up and hauled away. I climbed into the attic to clean out little styrofoam balls of insulation from the rafters. We had to take up the laminate floors, carpet, ceiling tiles, insulation, spray for mold, brush, spray, clean, and spray again. They were finally able to have their church service again, four months after the destruction. Pastor Ricky requested that the team put together the first service, which we all helped to accomplish. He was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and service for him and the church." -Merle
Merle will go again to bring aid, traveling to other places in need, and will be gone until mid-February. I don't like being left behind and I miss him when he is gone, but this is only a temporary situation. I am taking a class at church, practicing my piano again, and working on my book. The Temples are very generous to house us and we appreciate them so much!
The girls had fun looking through some of their tubs from growing up. Hannah was tickled to get her old paints and stamps for crafts. Reading some old journals was insightful.
We were able to move all our belongings stored in boxes and tubs to our lone garage with the blessing of using Jeff's trailer and Scott's extra van. Unfortunately, I don't know where anything is! I feel very disorganized. Please pray that God protects these things from fire, weather, or rodents. It certainly gives a new spin to Jesus having no possessions and no place to lay his head. I want a home base with my "stuff" organized so that I can find what I need, but that is just not how it is at this time. This current lifestyle is truly a challenge for me.
We also visited with our neighbor, both in the hospital and now at home, and she was very happy to be back home with her kitty (above). We thought she might die before we returned from Bosnia last November, and so I purchased a different ticket to return early, but as other neighbors who are also helping her, moved her to a different facility, she improved dramatically. We are working together to address her needs and serve her the best we are able. "Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world." James 1:27
I went up to see Luke for his 20th Birthday celebration dinner at Paradise Mountain Ministries where he lives, played a game, and Luke and Lydia painted. Then Luke was off to Chicago and Minneapolis to snowboard with friends for the weekend. During her semester break, Lydia and I decided to try our hand at watercolor painting, and played Bananagrams and Code Names. We enjoyed having time together, especially eating milk shakes at Chick Fil-A! It was wonderful to spend time together, and Hannah came one weekend, too.
The kids really miss the snow of Sarajevo. But not the smog! The air quality there was the worst in the world this month! It went into the 600's! With diesel cars and burning coal for warmth, the mountains trap the air and it just sits in the valley of the city. The air is stinky and dangerous! Jeff and Beth show us their masks in Bosnia. I am glad we are not there in the winter!
Hope your New Year's resolutions include reading the precious Word of God that has been preserved for us through the sacrifice of many lives and reputations. When Gutenberg developed his printing press, he first printed a Latin Bible. The Bible far outsells everything else and is in high demand in places like China, but against the law. Ever wonder why? Jesus split time and though he never left his home country, he has impacted lives all over the world for over 2000 years. Read it for yourself. The Bible is good for the soul. ❤️