As I am writing this, I am watching two twenty-something-year-old guys with chainsaws traipse through a maze of fallen trees. They are desperately trying to get an elderly man out of his house who has not been able to leave his property since the hurricane hit eleven days ago. Just behind them is a man in his thirties, driving a tractor. He and my husband are clearing the debris around the house so that when the driveway is cleared, they will be able to get the man’s truck out from behind a giant, fallen sycamore.
These guys are not anybody special; they are farmers and machine operators by trade. But today, they became an old man’s hero. The only thing that makes them stand out above the rest is that they all simply said, “Yes.” They said yes to a two-hour drive and yes to bringing their equipment. They said yes to helping a stranger that they may never meet again. Their yes may be the one action that makes the difference in someone’s life forever.
Do you know what else I saw today? I saw men, women and children toting limbs, hauling trash, and salvaging homes. I saw men and women organizing and distributing resources to community members in need. I saw everyday people cooking and feeding a countless number of folks. I saw so many others talking to and encouraging victims of this horrible tragedy; developing friendships, hugging necks and shedding tears. Everyone I saw today was a normal, hard working person; teachers, city workers, secretaries, policemen, nurses, factory workers, farmers, and preachers. White collar or blue collar, it just did not matter! Today, what mattered was helping our neighbors.
Last week I encouraged you all to step up and do something. I want to encourage you again and remind everyone that there is still so much to be done. If you have air in your lungs, there is something that you can do to help. Bring a group and haul limbs to the road. Load up tractors and chainsaws and go door to door. Help a church or agency with intake and distribution of resources. Deliver coolers of water and cold drinks. Sit on the front porch with an older lady and learn about her life. Watch someone’s children so they can go help. Donate supplies and money. Offer medical assistance to those in need. Pray for those who are assisting others. Cook and package plates of food for those in need.
Really, all we need to do is show up. Not once did I crank a saw on Saturday. Not once did I drive a tractor. But I toted limbs, talked with families, and made new friends. I carried water to the saw hands and made sure my group had permission before working at a home. Every little thing we did made a difference. “Yes” seems to be the only requirement.
If you need a place to start, Altha First Baptist, in Altha, FL, is coordinating resources and sending out folks daily. Please contact me or someone you know for more information.