A group from our church spent a Saturday about a month ago on fire recovery efforts with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. We were assigned to help rebuild one of the many homes that were destroyed in the wildfires near Bastrop, Texas last year. While others in the group sanded the sheetrock upstairs to prepare for painting, I listened to Laurel’s story. She is a woman of grace and courage with more grit than I can imagine exhibiting after losing every worldly possession. The day was full of unexpected blessings—the norm for such mission trips in my experience. One was the loan of painting equipment from a group of Mennonites from Pennsylvania, who had travelled to Texas to work. They had worked during the week and shared their equipment that Saturday so we could paint the outside of the house sunshine-yellow, work that was especially important to Laurel.
The most amazing experience of the day for me, however, was getting to know Bud and Alex, who came and spent Saturday afternoon with us to watch the house after Laurel had to leave and to lock up after we were finished. Bud was a long time friend of Laurel’s, and Alex was his friend. Alex joined us in the painting while Bud entertained young Henry, who had accompanied his mom on the mission trip. Bud’s patient interaction with Henry was a gift, but what really impressed me were the cloths he provided when I asked if he knew if Laurel had any paint rags we could use. I told him I did not want to use anything in the house that might be important to her as she had already lost enough. He left for a few minutes and then returned with some black rags, which he had cut from the shirt he was wearing. I regretted my request and told him I had not meant for him to use his shirt. He said he also did not want to use anything of Laurel’s that might be important to her. What an amazing testament to friendship. I wonder how many of us would cut the shirt off our backs to take care of a friend. I was reminded that saints still walk the earth in our time, and we encounter them if we have eyes to see and ears to hear.
Grace and Peace,