–I stopped asking WHY long before the hurricane hit. Instead, I ask NOW WHAT? Or simply WHAT? What is it I need to learn? Change? Adjust? Delete or modify? Especially now that it’s a new year. I latch on to the feeling of a blank slate and endless possibilities. I sometimes sit with the weight of the uncertainty of our lives and just sit. Without trying to do anything other than BE. Be in this moment of our lives fully. Feel it all, deny nothing, accept everything. Surrender. TRUST.
We may never know the WHY of things in life. Our minds are too limited to understand the divine order. But before more time goes by, I want to write down details about the heroes that have shown up in our life after Harvey. Maybe we had to lose everything to gain a new perspective, to see the orchestra of angels God has planted in our lives to help us in times of dire distress.
Fourteen days after the hurricane, on September 10th, 2017, we were finally able to walk through ankle-deep brown water and slushy ground to get to our flooded home. We could only imagine what it would look like. We wore masks, goggles, gloves and white protective suits. I turned on the video on my phone as we walked, breathing heavily into my mask, wanting to record the moment. For myself and for FEMA. Here’s the video:
The smell wouldn’t be imprinted on the tape but it would penetrate every crevice of my being, towards my brain, to file it under one of the most foul scents I’ve ever smelled.
We got through the initial shock of seeing our home blackened, violated, like a horror movie, as if someone had shaken the ground and muddy rain left mold on everything it touched.
We walked outside to BREATHE. Then my husband got a phone call from his brother who had an emergency and he had to leave. This meant that I was left alone on our front lawn, wondering what to do next. I thought about leaving. I couldn’t handle going inside by myself to move or document anything. And then it was my turn to get a phone call. My high-school friend told me that two men from New York had driven down to Houston to help wherever they could. She had given them my address and they were on their way. WHAT???
I paced in my front lawn and spoke to a few neighbors who also seemed pale and shocked at the trauma of seeing their home in such a rotten state. And then, the New Yorkers from Rockaway Bay arrived in a gold pick-up truck. They got out and walked towards me. I dropped my mask to hug one of them and I couldn’t control my tears. “We are here to help”, John said. “You’ll get through this”, George assured me. Both of them, blue eyes, rosy cheeks, honest smiles, looking at me as if I’d met them before. I trusted them. I felt like I would be ok. They stepped into action quickly, asking me if I had tables and chairs to set a staging area. They came from St. Francis Church. My dad’s name was Francisco. I got the connection right away. My earthly father and Heavenly Father were working together up above to send help our way!
John and George had gone through the devastation of Hurricane Sandy five years ago, so they knew first-hand what we were going through. They worked for days to gut our house and help heal our souls. They brought supplies and gift cards. They even brought underwear! 🙂 What heart and humor you guys instilled in us! Thank you Rockaway Bay! You’ll forever be weaved into our story! And after sweating in the foul-smelling heat of my home to clean it out, they gifted us the pick-up they used to drive down to Houston! Numb, in disbelief, feeling unworthy, I took the car keys they offered me. How does this happen? What a tremendous blessing! Thank you guys for an indescribable sense of peace that you brought to our lives. And thank you to my sweet friend, Samantha, for sending them our way!
They were the first angels that came to our aid. We’ve had many after them, and we don’t take for granted that it’s God’s love and grace being sent to us through them!
We also received tremendous help from all of you who made donations. Wow! We cried almost every day with your generosity, with the gift cards, the packages, the offers we got from friends of friends willing to help… the lemonade stands your kids had were heart warming and inspirational Shelley and Mary Frances! My Duchesne high school friends/family started a youcaring account and took care of us with meals and gift cards!! You guys are amazing! My sister started a gofund me account! We got checks and cards from people we’ve never met, and cards from those who have also experienced the wrath of a hurricane. We are deeply grateful!
Here is a quick recap of other angelic experiences we’ve had. (I hope you don’t mind I use your names! And I have Harvey brain, so I’m sorry if I misspell or forget someone!)
-A volunteer who came to spray our moldy studs told me that he came in the name of Jesus. A lady I just met during the storm told me God loves me. Another volunteer handing our popsicles reminded me I’m not alone. A man who power-washed our driveway told me he served God by serving us. A lady passing out hand-made cards from her kids at school hugged me and said I was going to get through this.
-Chip and a 2 rugby players also showed up the first day of “cleaning our house” to take everything out. Compassion and love on their faces.
-Ninfa and Monica came the second day. Ninfa saving my dad’s night-stand, cleaning the wood and treating it, (which has now become my only piece of furniture to survive the flood). Beyond touching. And Monica carefully took out everything from my drawers in my bedroom, closet, and stench-infested bathroom. I couldn’t get myself to do much of that. Too gut-wrenching.
-Trey also came the second day. Confident, strong, and faith-filled. He had helped many other families from St. John Vianney and I felt like he knew exactly what he was doing. He came every day. My heart can’t tell you enough how grateful we are to you and Christine!
-Jayro, a family friend I hadn’t seen in years, showed up the second day too. His muscles and heart helped tremendously! Juaquin and Charlie came after work. What man-power and support they provided. Thank you!
-And on the third day, a large crew of my girlfriends came. Crissy, Gabi and Monica came smiling early in the morning, followed by Sandra, Victoria, Maricela, Eu, and Elsa (who later brought her powerful cousin Nabil). The ladies took care of my kitchen dishes and china that survived. They laughed in the sunshine and filled tubs of bleach and water to wash all my things.
-The following days, Gonzalo, Elisa, Michael, Sherry, Allison, Joyce, Marianne, Ivonne, Marina, Gaby, Father Eamonn, consecrated women Charlene and Kathleen, Ramon, Maria Laura, Marga, Liam and Marie…and many husbands, neighbors, and volunteers came. Gracias!!!! If I didn’t mention you by name. You know I love you and truly couldn’t have done it without you!
– Our church St. John Vianney has been unbelievably supporting through prayer and donations… and the mamas from St. Anne’s brought us lunch almost daily. What a treat! You truly made a difference in our day! And the volunteers from SJV who came on Saturday. Moved to tears!
-Our families were constant rock of support. We couldn’t have survived without your jokes, company, shoulders to cry on, and your home Sofi and George!! Thank you!!!
-Churches from all over Houston, Alabama, and South Carolina came daily to provide man-power or prayer. Thank you!!
-Those of you who couldn’t come help in person, but reached out in other ways, made phone calls for us, sent help our way, and showered us with love from afar.
I could go on and on because truly so many amazing things have happened… I simply wanted to focus on all the good that has come our way after such a tragedy and focus on THE GOODNESS and abundance and joy that remains and always will reign over us thanks to you all and God’s love. Cheers to rebuilding one day at a time. Next blog, I’ll explain what exactly we have decided to do after changing our minds a hundred times. Thank you!!!!