How are you doing?
I am feeling safe, comfortable, protected, and happy. And I am so incredibly grateful for that.
This past weekend, many in our family traveled about two hours north to Midland, Michigan to help with flooding that happened there last week after the failure of two dams. Wixom Lake, which one of the dams created, has basically disappeared. And several hundred homes were either destroyed beyond repair or severely ravaged.
We belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and have been known in many volunteer arenas as a great force for good. We joined several hundred of our brothers and sisters in helping over 400 homeowners muck out basements, clean and disinfect, and carry ruined furniture, carpet, drywall, doors, cabinets, appliances, and other personal possessions to the curb for eventual pickup.
The damage was unbelievable.
The things we saw, the stories we heard, and the homeowners we spoke with all told the same thing – Nobody saw this coming, the devastation was great, and lives were changed forever. Homeowners had a hard time making decisions about what to do because there was so much to do. But we could see over a few days, the hope that came back into their hearts as the volunteers came and did what they did best.
I overheard one homeowner talking to her insurance adjuster about how very grateful she was when we showed up and got right to work, doing in an hour with 10 people what would have taken their family all day. The man she was speaking with told her he had seen these people all over town, everywhere he went. I was so happy to be associated with such an outstanding group of people.
How did they know who we were? Because we all wear these yellow shirts. It might seem a little hokey to broadcast who we are, but I think there is a wise purpose in it. First, we are identified right away as volunteers, even from far away. Second, the shirts identify the Church and instills confidence in others that we are here, organized and ready to do what needs to be done. And third, most importantly, we are serving in the name of Jesus Christ, whom we love. Like we find in Matthew 25:40, “…Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of theleast of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”, we choose to strengthen our relationship with Christ as we care for, lift, and serve others.
Would I have preferred to stay home and relax? You bet, but only if the flood hadn’t happened. I felt privileged to be healthy and strong enough to spend eight hours helping families clean out as much as possible before things started getting moldy, making a terrible situation worse.
When all was said and done, the “Mormon Helping Hands” filled 2049 service shifts totaling 12,600 man hours in the the three days over the weekend.
The whole experience made me really appreciate the things I choose to own. I am sure many of the basements we cleaned out had things in them that were not very valuable to the owners, and probably many forgotten things among the treasures. There were so many homes that had damage on the main floor, too. Things that are used often had to be hauled out to the curb, and it was hard to see that happen over and over. In the end, very little was salvageable. The things that were loved and the things that were forgotten all ended up heading to a landfill.
Something to think about, right? When I got home, I walked around my house thinking of the damage I saw and what that might look like, what things would have to be thrown away. I’m grateful to be able to edit in a time of calm what we keep. Just like those in Midland, we cannot see what may be coming, but I like knowing that I have control over what comes and goes from my home today.