I recently had the opportunity after leading a training session with my husband for Pastors and their wives to help with some much needed hurricane relief in Panama City. Hurricane Michael ripped through that part of the country 7 months ago. I was shocked by the amount of work that still needs to be done. Blue tarps on roofs, debris in piles, businesses closed, and still no power in some of the homes. There were 8 of us in our group and we were unsure of what we would be doing for the day. We ended up at a woman's home to help with the yard work that was totally out of control. The weeds had taken over (think jungle like) and she did not have the energy or strength to tackle the project. She is currently living with her son because they are waiting to see if it is possible to make all the repairs necessary to her home or if it needs to be demolished and rebuilt. She longs for the home to be able to be rebuilt, she has lived there for over 40 years and wants to stay. There is still no power, and no roof, and yet what was needed most the day we arrived was yard work. She and her son were there to greet us, and we each got a hug. And we got to work. 4 weed trimmers buzzing, rakes, clipping and ripping out weeds by hand. It wasn't long and you could start to see a real difference. We found the stone path that led to the front porch, we went around to the side yard and cut our way through the massive weeds, and you could once again reach the deck. The homeowner kept coming out and she was thrilled at how much progress we were making. You could literally watch her hope being restored. She knew the name of every plant and laughed saying the most pervasive weed was called "wait a minute", you wait a minute and it grows right back!
As the sweat was dripping off my face and my hands were beginning to hurt, I thought for a minute, the weeds are all going to just grow back. What is the point of this? But that thought left very quickly as I stopped and talked with this dear lady. She kept saying how thankful she was that we were there. How much it meant to her to have found one of her favorite plants actually blooming underneath the weeds and broken pottery. She said how faithful God had been to protect her and provide for her. How grateful she was at the sunflower that was growing so the birds could be fed. She told me because she had been living with her son for the last 7 months, she was now taking 4 little children to church with her every week that may have never had a chance to go if she wasn't there. I was humbled and amazed at her attitude. And it didn't matter if those weeds grew back, because just for that day, her hope was renewed. We laughed, and cried a little, hugged some more and then we all gathered around her and her son and we prayed. God has not forgotten about her. He has been with her each and every moment. He knows what she needs and will provide for her. She was such a blessing to our team, it was worth every minute just to share with her a little fresh hope.