The sound of my alarm went off at 3 a.m. with a loud “Bee-dee-dee-deep!” As my eyes struggled to open, I lay in my bed, anticipating what the next week would be hold.
Five hours later, a group of students and I traveling to Houston, Texas, to do relief work for those impacted by Hurricane Harvey, made it to the airport. When we got to the church in Hamshire, Texas, at 11 p.m., I was still unsure what this week would be like, what God would do through our team – and if it would even make a difference.
As I reflect back on those fears, I find it foolish that my heart was in that state; but throughout the week, God moved in me and in those around me. God used our small team to make a significant and positive difference in the community of Hamshire. Many people who were affected by Hurricane Harvey fixed their homes as soon as they were allowed to, but those without any insurance fled their homes, left everything in them and were forced to let the water turn into black mold.
After abandoning their homes, these homeowners didn’t have the funds to pay for their houses to be fixed, so our primary mission was to tear down the homes to a fixable state where the homeowners could then work toward moving in and living their normal lives again.
As our team suited up for our first demolition day, we tore down the insulation and drywall that was consumed by black mold. We ended the first day exhausted, but ready to tackle the next house, hoping to put a family back into a home.
Throughout the week, we worked on more houses, completing nearly three houses by the end of the week. The best part? We were able to meet the homeowners and see their appreciation for the work we were doing.
On the second day, we were able to meet a lady by the name of Arline. She had five grown sons and was known as the neighborhood mother who would stop at nothing to take kids in and feed them a home-cooked meal. When the hurricane hit, Arline and her husband were forced out of their home and taken in by one of their sons; while living in a fairly small house with her son and grandchildren, Arline was grateful for the time she was able to spend with her family.
Two months later, Arline’s husband died, and she was left with a grieving heart and no home. Despite the pain Arline went through, the 75-year-old woman had so much positivity and love for those around her.
As the week progressed, our team developed a friendship with the leader of Cajun Army, the organization that was helping us renovate houses. She went by the nickname “Fuzzy Bear,” and she showed us love through her actions and words. When we met Fuzzy, she was a non-believer, but as the week progressed, she started joining our Bible studies, joining us in prayer and even requesting to play specific worship songs.
Spending the week with Fuzzy was by far the best part of the trip. I remember asking God to impact at least one person, and as I reflect on the trip, I can see God intended for that one person to be Fuzzy.
Seeing God’s hand in every action and every discussion was inspiring, and it gave me hope for the people of Hamshire.
Knowing that God’s hand was so prevalent in our trip was the thing that kept me in awe of Him and of the work we were doing. It was an honor to be God’s boots on the ground and stewards of His work.
As the week ended, I was grateful for the opportunity to grow with students, help people in need and be changed by the people I met.