Pause to Help

destroyed house with a sign that says, "Michael Who?"

31 Days of 5-Minute Free-Writes

Day 22: Help

Today I am again taking a break from my usual book-baby shower theme to share a long overdue update on the help that has been extended to the dear folks in Panama City, Florida. On behalf of those who live in the wake of this storm, I wish to thank everyone who has reached out with the love of Christ to help in any way they could.

My husband and I had an opportunity to drive to Panama City on a Tuesday right after the storm struck, when he was off work. We delivered a load of groceries, took a couple hundred photos, and got to know a few of the people who were directly impacted by Hurricane Michael, particularly the pastor and his wife at Victory Baptist Church in Panama City. We were kindred spirits, and we bonded right away.

When my husband and I returned home, I made a plea for others to help by either donating needed items or by going with me to help clean the church the following Saturday. No one was able to go, as the commitment would have required the entire day, but the response for supplies was overwhelming. My SUV was filled to the brim when I returned to Victory Baptist Church that weekend. And the people kept giving, as our home church was also collecting donations in cooperation with the local fire department.

As it turns out, the folks at Victory Baptist didn’t need my help with cleaning because they had decided to hire a professional restoration team. So the pastor’s wife and I instead turned our attention to the tremendous supply of donations they had received. She had already set out tables and begun sorting the items, and together we got them better organized so she and her two adult sons could begin filling boxes to meet the needs as requests began coming in.

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The first time we there, we took pictures of the devastation left behind by Hurricane Michael, but we forgot to take pictures of the supplies we had brought. This time I remembered to photograph the supplies, but never thought of getting a picture of me. Yes, I was there, but I stayed safely behind the camera.

The nice thing about going alone was that I did not feel rushed to return home. In fact, most of the day was characterized by fellowship. We began with a hearty picnic lunch under a tent in the yard—complete with cookies and milk. Then later, when we were satisfied with the way things were arranged on the tables, we sat down on the floor and talked, getting to know each other better. I don’t know what Katrina thought about our “down” time together, but it meant a lot to me. In fact, to me, it made the trip worthwhile. I wished I lived closer and could go out there more often. It’s normally only two hours away, but I stayed so long that I had to sit in traffic with people who were on their way back to motel rooms after a long days’ work at restoration. It took an hour to drive one mile, but after that it wasn’t too bad. I had sermons to listen to, so I didn’t mind the delay. If my schedule allows, I’ll go back a third time, and a fourth.

The need has not gone away, and there is still much work to be done. If you live close enough, I encourage you to donate of your time and resources. If you live further away, you can still give a cash donation that will help. There are plenty of places to donate, including the Red Cross. And wherever you are, you can pray for these things and more:

  • daily strength
  • continued hope
  • health and safety
  • good food and water
  • power to those who have yet to be restored
  • new growth for businesses that suffered loss, especially the small ones
  • opportunities for believers to share the love of Christ with their neighbors

Unless you live in an area that was impacted, Hurricane Michael is a thing of the past. But for many, this storm is still impacting their daily lives. Please do what you can to help shoulder the burden, whether by praying, giving, or going to help.

Thank you!

Back in October, Kate Motaung, host of Five-Minute Friday, challenged us to 31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes , in which we were to explore the telling of our story. Writing every day got to be a bit overwhelming for me, and I fell off the bandwagon. But in the true spirit of my stick-to-it-iveness (i.e. stubbornness), I am hobbling to the finish line, with a new goal to be done by the end of November. In reality, I will finish when I finish. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

For a list of links to all my posts for this challenge, click here.

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