9.24.2008

IKE STORIES: The Good Out of the Bad

Ok, I can't tell you all that other stuff (in my blogs below), without sharing the good stuff. First off, if you want a laugh, go check out Donald Butler's Hunker Down reports we taped the night of the hurricane. I stayed with him and Gretchen and their children to ride out the storm. I think we used humor to cover the fear. For some good fun and a few great laughs, check them out here. You might have to scroll back a few posts to get to the original one titled: Hunker Down Houston and then follow them back up to Hunker Down 7.

Ok, so the Hurricane hit on Saturday, and we still had church on Sunday by generator and candlelight. It was really cool. We had 2 services and about 1,000 people came. It was a really sweet time for us to come together. Laura Shook told us a story, and I'm probably gonna do it a giant disservice because my memory is terrible, but here's the gist of it:

There was a pastor who was helping his church coordinate a community fair. They wanted vegetables at the fair, but had nowhere to get them other than the "butcher." The Butcher was a guy that everyone was afraid of and no one associated himself with. The pastor decided to go and ask the butcher if he could get vegetables from him. So he went to the butcher’s house and the butcher met him at the gate and growled at him, "what do you want?" and the pastor told him he wanted vegetables for the fair. The butcher replied, "Can’t you see I'm busy. I can't help you." The pastor asked what he had to do, and the butcher said he had to clean the pig trough. The pastor said, "I want to help you," and so he did. (I know I'm getting the details of this story wrong...but oh well). Then the pastor went back every day for 6 weeks and cleaned the pig troughs. After 6 weeks at church one Sunday, the butcher walked in the door and everyone was afraid. The butcher went up to the pastor and spoke of how much what the pastor did in cleaning the troughs did for him to change his life.

Mark and Laura talked about how now was the time to serve our community. Serve it in the good times, but also in the tough times. That's what Community of Faith is all about; to serve your community, no matter what.

We had sign up's at two separate tables in our foyer; One table for people to list friends and neighbors of theirs that needed help. The other table was to sign up to help. I had the privilege of helping coordinate these teams. I think I took over 400 phone calls to my cell phone between Sunday and Wednesday of that week and sent and received no telling how many emails and text messages, all to/from people wanting to help. I am astounded at the kindness of people. I think that's why I've been so emotional about it. I talked first hand to quite a few people who lost everything and were so amazed that people would help them without even knowing them or being a member of their church.

We moved several families completely out of their houses, we cut down trees and cleared debris, we fixed roof's and fences, we distributed MRE's, ice and water at the FEMA PODs (Points of Distribution), we worked for the Houston Food Bank, we delivered meals to people in the meals on wheels program that couldn't get out of their homes, we helped at the George R. Brown Convention Center putting together care packages to those evacuated to shelters and lost everything in Galveston, we delivered hot meals to those who just needed to feel like "home," and to be reminded that everything was gonna be ok. Our church also funded and sent out a mobile feeding unit out to the hardest hit areas, and probably countless other things that we'll never know about.

I'm not saying this to be bragging, please don't read that into it, I'm NOT saying that. I'm saying this to give the positive side to the devastating thing that has happened to this area. Texan's are helping Texan's. Churches are being what the church was meant to be...we are BEING the church. We were even privileged to run into a guy and a few of his buddies that just got in their car and drove from Georgia to cut down trees. We used them to help clear trees from several of our church member’s roofs.

I am reminded of a guy in our church who had signed up on the "needs help" list and also the "I'll help" list. He got called up for the "I'll help list first." I called him up to help deliver a hot meal to someone. He never spoke at all about his needs at his own home. He delivered the meal and called me to tell me that he'd do it every day this week if I'd just give him a name, number and address. The next day, I flipped the page to my "needs help" list and saw his name there, his house had a tree on the roof, a hole in his roof, gutter damage, etc...and he never mentioned a word to me about it and was so thrilled to help out after the storm. Then we were able to turn around and serve him. It was a cool experience.

A few years ago a bunch of my friends and I were hanging out and talking, I had recently moved to Houston, Texas from Mississippi. I had only been here a couple of years and my native Texan friends said that you couldn't be called a "Texan" until you meet specific guidelines (this was all in humor). I can't remember all the rules, but it was something like...you had to live here at least 10 years to be able to refer to yourself as a "Texan", or you could "marry in" if you married an original Texan and after 5 years of marriage you could claim the name early. To hold your name as a Texan, you had to proclaim it to everyone whenever you went out of state, "I'm from Texas" (and be PROUD of it). There is a traditional love of state and if you attack a Texan, you draw fire from all Texans. There were a bunch more, but I can't remember them. But in chatting with them this past week after the storm, I've been told that if you "hunker down" through a hurricane and survive it, you automatically become a Texan for life! So I guess I finally made it! LOL!

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