This past Friday night, our city and surrounding areas was ravaged by a huge wind storm. As far as I know, it was out of nowhere. The aftermath was similar to that of a small hurricane: trees crashing down into homes, twisted up power lines, and power to half a million homes was lost, including ours. (if you're interested in seeing pictures of the damage, here ya go.) And soon after it was all over, it was evident that the restoration efforts were going to take days, not hours.
We are thankful that our home did not experience damage, but there are so many people who are suffering now and cannot say the same. My heart is hurting for our city as I type this.
There's so much I could tell you, like how scary the sound of 80 mph winds were as they howled outside our home and how frightened I was as we pulled Caroline out of bed to take shelter in a closet underneath our stairs.
I could go on and on about the devastation in our community, and what mayhem has ensued as people are (still!) desperately trying to survive the triple digit heat for days on end, how this has thrown our community into crisis mode: hospitals full, stoplights out, spoiled food in the fridge, hotels with power booked solid, a 1000% increase in generator sales at Home Depot, etc. etc. You get the picture.
Need I say it's been very hard? Hard to endure the record-high summer temps without air conditioning, hard to find food and ice, hard to get out and know where to go, hard to live. When darkness was approaching, our only hope was a flashlight or a candle, and that's not an easy thing to experience with a 4 year old who cannot relax herself enough to sleep.
It's been much like Little House on the Prairie around here. (except that they were probably a bit more prepared for this than we modern-day people are.) Makes you realize what people throughout history and all over the world experience each day.
When it was clear our power would be off for days, my first reaction was we've got to get out of here!! (well, that was if you could've un-curled me from my fetal position!) In NO way did it seem possible to stay under these conditions. Most families that I know headed out of town to stay with friends or family to get out of the heat. As Marc and I, in our state of shock, were wandering around trying to collect our heads about what we should do, it wasn't difficult to see that I was determined to leave and he was determined to stay.
"I would just feel like I'm leaving my post," he told me. "I'm going to take care of you girls and if we can just get a generator, we can be here to help people." I thought he was a crazy man. But now I've seen the kind of stuff he's made of.
This "crazy" husband of mine has proved to be a hero in my eyes! As have so many of our area churches who have given endlessly of themselves, offering food, water, ice, and "cooling centers" and overnight sleeping quarters to our community. People that don't have power THEMSELVES working tirelessly for others in need. It has been amazing to watch the Body of all denominations share in people's sufferings and offer rest to the weary and helpless.
Of course this was great timing for our family personally, as we are in the middle of our kitchen renovation.(!!!) But I guess you could say we were already used to camping out in our house?!?
Marc quickly went to work devising a plan for us to stay. Thankfully an old friend of his that lives 2 1/2 hours away met us halfway with a generator the next day. That allowed us enough electricity to run extension cords into our house and cool off our fridge, freezer, as well as run a fan and have a lamp. It also allowed us to run a long extension cord to our next door neighbor's house to provide them with some wattage also. Enough to survive, and we were grateful.
It made my heart glad to provide for our neighbor. It helped me settle into the idea of staying, and it gave me purpose. We began figuring out how we'd survive this new kind of life... FOR THE NEXT 7 DAYS. (that's what the power company told us to expect.)
Somehow we began coping with laughter and innovation, as many of you saw this picture of me on facebook cooking on the back of Marc's truck:
This brings a whole new meaning to the word "tailgating."
Like the self-made laundry hanging line behind me? See the blue extension cord going to our neighbor's house? The old cabinets under the carport is a nice touch, too, eh?
After checking around on many of our RUF students still in town, five of our RUF students quickly found their way to our basement, which was alot cooler than their sweltering apartments! (We are still praying they will get power again soon, though it has been so much fun to be in close community through this together!)
Then finally, on the fourth day, without a warning and in an INSTANT, all of our toil was over.
Power! We jumped for joy and screamed in celebration! All three of us.
Since then, we've loved having a house full of people to enjoy and care for. And getting power freed up our generator to give to a dear friend for the night until her power came on the next day. Had I skipped town like I wanted to do, I would've not experienced the beauty in providing for those in need. It has filled me up. Thank you, dear husband, for challenging me. I have learned so much about the Lord's provision and the need for holding one another up through this experience.
But even though the story is looking up for us, our community is still very much hurting.
We would appreciate your prayers.
Pray for the young family with the autistic boy who is running the halls of the church screaming uncontrollably, unable to cope with the stress of the situation.
Pray for the 10-day old baby who stopped breathing for fifteen minutes and almost died.
Pray for those who are struggling to survive and don't have anywhere they can go.
Pray for the people pouring into churches desperate for food and shelter.
Pray for the 2,000 power company workers, as they work around the clock, many of them returning to their own homes without power for a few hours of sleep.
Pray for the man who was shot by thieves who were trying to steal his generator.
And pray for the body of believers (and me individually!) to love our neighbor at this time.
Though today, July 4th, is a celebration of INdependence, I am so clearly reminded of how DEpendent we truly are... upon our Creator, upon each other, and upon the power company.