Robert and I are active members of the Fellowship Class. It is our Sunday morning home. Our class consists of families with children of all ages. We, like many other families at St. Luke’s, are very involved in our children’s activities and it makes non-Sunday gatherings quite a challenge at times. That is, until Harvey. As the roads dried up and the reality of the destruction set in, we all had one goal —to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Immediately. In addition, there are only so many days of cabin fever you can take when you see your neighboring communities get destroyed.
The members of our class who live in Meyerland were already hard at work. It was not their first rodeo. Those of us who were not in Meyerland got together and would meet at a given address. Whoever could make it would just show up, with or without tools, eager to help… to do SOMETHING. We moved furniture, removed very wet carpet and mucked out strangers’ homes. Some of us even got our kids involved. Yet the takeaway was not the physical labor; it was the emotional work that touched our hearts and will not be forgotten. The fellowship, the conversations and the laughter are what I will remember the most.
The power of fellowship and camaraderie was organic and unified. We saw it all over the city, all over social media. In my own experience, we worked on one house with a small group from Second Baptist. On another day, we mucked the house of a non-believer who was referred from another church. We helped a Westbury UMC family on another day. Discrimination was nowhere in sight.
Classmate Jake Decker shared that what struck him was “the vital role that leadership plays in a crisis.” From Dr. Pace on down to the crew leaders, from St. Luke’s to Westbury UMC, and many other churches across Texas, these leaders continue to work around clock to organize volunteers and supplies for all the families affected by the flood. We could not have done it without this superb organization and leadership, and we are grateful for the leaders’ time and energy.
The most important lesson I learned during that first week of clean up really moved me to tears. It involved going into strangers’ homes and seeing firsthand the stages of grief. Classmate Greg Young talked about the emotional phases a family goes through when their home floods. Shock and denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. We witnessed them all in some form or fashion. Greg believes that one of our greatest achievements was helping families transition closer to the acceptance stage. He states, “It was truly humbling to see how appreciative the recipients were of our collective efforts. With acceptance came relief, and the realization that they were not alone. A healthy dose of relief was the thing they probably needed the most.”
Classmate Kevin Labban recalls that everyone is at a different place in their faith journey but serving together as a group helped us all enrich our walk with Christ. We can “see His work being done all around us… in the faces and actions of everyone there.”
I will probably never name any pet, plant, stuffed animal, or car “Harvey” after this disaster, but I will remember that this experience helped us all dig down deep and open up our souls so the Holy Spirit could get to work on the Texas Gulf Coast. All the things I mentioned in this article, it wasn’t me… or my Sunday School classmates… or even Dr. Pace and the leadership…. “It” was all Him. What an honor to be the vessels that show the world what The Holy Spirit can do through us. Thanks be to God.