Hurricanes R Us – Adventures in Florida

[if you can’t see the Wauchula video, click here]

{Sunday morning, September 10}

People in Wauchula, Florida, are waiting. They haven’t met Irma, but they know she is on the way.

In the next 24 hours, Irma will storm in, announced but uninvited. She will blow limbs off trees, throw debris into roofs, and soak Florida with more water than it can hold.

She will try to extinguish all light.

And temporarily, she will succeed.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

{Sunday morning, September 24}

Two weeks later.

It’s 5:30 a.m. It’s pitch black in Huntsville, Alabama.

One set of headlights made it here before us. We wait together in darkness for the rest of our team to gather.

We are strangers this morning. We’ve seen names on emails. But no one knows everyone. We wonder who we all are.

Almost 700 miles away, another small group of people are also wondering who we are.

In Wauchula, they are waiting to see if we’ll really show up tonight in our church van and flood trailer as we promised.

The people in Florida are tired. For two weeks they have been locals helping locals. But the needs exceed the hours.

It can wear a body out. And a soul.

Others in Wauchula are also wondering, but not about us. They don’t know we’re coming. Instead, they are thinking . . .

  • about the mold creeping up daily on their walls,
  • if their ceilings will pour water when it rains again,
  • where the money will come from to fix or replace what Irma took.

They don’t yet see the light. So they work and they wait in the dark.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

{Monday – Thursday, September 25-28}

We are in the heart of Wauchula.

Our PAR (Prepare and Respond) disaster relief team meets their Send Me Missions team.

par and send me missions

Together we nail the classic blue tarps (or whatever is available) onto roofs. We listen to homeowners repeat their stories. We hand out Red Cross cleaning buckets and give out local help numbers and extend bottles of cold water from our coolers.

But we also want to hand out hope.

  • Hope that help is always on the way.
  • Hope that God never abandons anyone.
  • Hope that it will get better.

We all need that hope.

Whatever our storms, whether a leaky faucet or hurricane winds, hope revives our spirits when they begin to sink low. Hope lights up dark places.

And hope often arrives in a human body.

Unlike the ultimate Hope that arrived in the flesh 2,000 years ago, our arrival hasn’t been prophesied for centuries or greeted with the brightest angels singing our praise.

But each of us can embody the hope that breathes life into the fainting by simply showing up.

wauchula florida

Our work in Florida may not look like much to the human eye.

We pitch water-logged mattresses into a garbage pile; we document tarped roofs that still need fixing; we cut half-down trees off of driveways.

Much work still needs to be done.

We must keep showing up wherever we are. To do things we’re good at. And to occasionally do things (like, stand on a roof or meet new people) that make us uncomfortable.

jeff on roof

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

{Friday, September 29}

All 11 of us have loaded our suitcases and are on the road by 7:05 a.m. We leave behind our new friends Jamie and Hank and Bill and Amy Jo and Pastor Jeff.

We don’t know when we will show up again in person in Wauchula.

But we can show up in our own towns . . . for our next-door neighbor who needs a wrench or a Walmart clerk who needs her story heard or a sick aunt who needs a hot meal.

God wants us to show up with hope. Wherever we travel. To whomever we meet.

We will continue carrying hope with us for the people of Wauchula as we pray, as we remember, as we tell.

We saw Jesus there. He had been there the whole time. He has declared us family. And so we are. We are strangers no more.

The van pulls into the parking lot late Friday night. We throw away empty water bottles and Pringles cans and used napkins from under the seats.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

{Now}

But we keep our hearts full.

  • Of new friends.
  • Of inspiring stories.
  • And of hope that can never be blown away.

Light always finds a crack to shine through.

It’s who God is.

And it’s what He wants us to do.

* * *

In 2011 we had our own natural disaster in a series of horrific tornadoes. Who showed up to help? Unbeknownst to us until last week, one of the groups were the good people of Wauchula, Florida. Isn’t that just like God?

More stories to come. My heart is still processing.

Who needs your hope this week? Where can you show up? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

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49 thoughts on “Hurricanes R Us – Adventures in Florida

  1. Debbie Putman

    Wow, Lisa. I have goosebumps reading your inspirational story. But mostly the hope you offer in word and deed. I look forward to reading more as you write it.

  2. Valerie Sisco

    Hi Lisa,
    Of course I was drawn to your blog post title but I didn’t think you lived in Florida! How wonderful that you and your team arrived to help and share encouragement and support! Hurricanes are emotionally exhausting too and I’m can just imagine how your helping hands and wonderful words assisted those you encountered! xo

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You were right that I don’t live in Florida, Valerie. I live in Alabama. But we are within driving distance so we drove down for the week. Natural disasters are definitely exhausting. I remember how strange it was after our tornadoes in Alabama in 2011. I didn’t have much damage at my own house but just being without electricity for a week and seeing all the devastation around us was such an emotional time. I’ve never lost everything like so many have; I can’t even imagine how that feels. 🙁

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Michele. The sad thing is that if I knew our main assignment would be tarping roofs, I might not have signed up to go. So thankfully I didn’t know that until I got down there! ha. Because I would have missed out on huge blessings and new friends.

  3. Lesley

    I love your willingness to go and help and share hope, Lisa! It’s so true that “hope often arrives in a human body” and we can all play our part in sharing hope with the people around us.

  4. BettieG

    Dear Lisa,
    What a wonderful story of God’s Grace and Hope being shared! I loved that little surprise that God had waiting when He showed you the connection from years ago!! Your way of living in Hope has been such a blessing to me also. Yesterday when I had a small test at the hospital, that took longer than expected, I remembered your story of how you were able to practice your Centering/Silent Prayer when you had an unexpected extra procedure. And then Jesus met me in my own time of Centering Prayer with Him there at the hospital also! So thank you for always sharing your heart of HOPE from the Lord!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, we were all so pleased by God’s surprise of how Wauchula residents had previously helped us. It just goes to show: we never know what season is next, so we need to be proactively helpful when we can. And be willing to receive when we need to.

      How encouraging to hear how aware you could be of Jesus’s presence even in the hospital for your test! He is quite amazing. Hopefully both of us are finished with that kind of test for awhile. 🙂 But it’s nice to know we are never alone in it. Praying you hear good results.

  5. Trudy

    This story of showing up with hope for the hopeless really touches my heart, Lisa. Thanks for the video, too. The song is so fitting. Yes, God wants us to show up with hope wherever we are in whatever way we can. Love and hugs!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      The song in the video is one that we sing often with our church. It fits so well whatever our situation: “We will rise above.” Thanks for stopping in, Trudy!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Sometimes just “showing up” is all I can do, and then God shows me that it is enough because He shows up too. Thanks for faithfully showing up each week as our hostess at Porch Stories, Kristin!

  6. floyd

    True love always shows up in action. Words are good, but until they meet action they mean little.

    Thanks for being the heart and hands of God. So, so encouraging.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Floyd. I didn’t personally do much on the trip in terms of fixing roofs, but I was definitely blessed getting to meet the homeowners and hearing their stories of the hurricanes. Made me feel even more grateful for what we’ve been given.

  7. Betty Draper

    Showing compassion with your hands and skills is powerful. I am sure that was a trip you all will never forget because what the eyes see affects the heart. Bless you.

      1. LisaNotes Post author

        I’m glad that ministry can come in different shades. I didn’t get up on most of the roofs, but I could throw water bottles to those who were up there. 🙂

  8. Linda Stoll

    Once again, you’re showing up, turning lives upside down, making a difference in ways that will impact for eternity.

    Thinking of you this morning, Lisa … grateful for the example you are in my life.

    Bless you, girl …

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I don’t deserve your sweet words, Linda. But I am grateful for all that God showed me on the trip and I’m glad I can pass along a little of it to you all. Blessings back to you.

  9. Sherry Stahl

    Lisa,
    What a God story! I love it! This is my favourite line:
    “God wants us to show up with hope. Wherever we travel. ”
    Praying you have a blessed day!
    Stopping by from #heartencouragement
    ~Sherry Stahl
    xoxo

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Sherry. I am indeed having a blessed day so far: I started it by eating pancakes this morning at IHOP with my daughter, sister, and a friend. 🙂 Taste and see that God is good; I believe in that verse. God does show up everywhere!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Sarah. I sometimes get weary of my human flesh when it hurts, but I know it is our traveling companion that gets us to places we need to be, so I thank God for it.

  10. Brenda

    Awe, love this, Lisa. And, love that they were the same group who helped y’all when y’all were in need. Yes, that *is* just like God. He’s the best. Thank you for sharing your stories. Look forward to hearing more. xoxo

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, God is indeed the best! I shouldn’t be surprised by his surprises, but he still catches me off-guard with his goodness, even after all these years.

  11. Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Lisa,
    God bless you and your team. Having my mom and two cousins who live in Florida, I really appreciate your work. Fortunately they all survived, this time, with not too much damage beyond some leaks in the roof, but in a previous hurricane, my cousins had half their roof lifted off and a lot of water and mold damage. It’s ironic that through natural disasters, we often see the best side of people come forward. Thank you again for being the hands and feet of Jesus.
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad your mom and cousins didn’t have much damage this time! We worked mainly on roof damage where we were, but did see a few places that were pretty much totaled due to flood and mold. 🙁 It really breaks your heart. But yes, it does bring out the good in people as well, and that is always a blessing.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I agree, Kiki! At last night’s PAR meeting we got to tell a little about our week and hear about the previous teams. I’m so thankful for all that we got to do in Wauchula.

  12. Alice Walters

    Dear Lisa, what a tremendous ministry! I love that the folks who came in your time of need are the ones God sent you to. Thank you for your willingness to serve others and share with us. Blessings upon your team!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I think it was especially sweet that the ones who helped us were ones we got to serve in return. The big beautiful cycle of life! Thanks, Alice.

  13. Laura Thomas

    Wow, Lisa! Hands and feet of Jesus. Thanks so much for sharing and inspiring us to look in our own neighbourhoods for opportunities to love people in practical ways! Stopping by from #FaithFilledFriday 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I agree, Laura; there are always ways we can help. Wherever we are. We don’t have to even leave our neighborhoods to find people in need (or to find someone to help us when we are the ones in need).

  14. Elizabeth

    These hope-filled stories of people being the love and light of God in these hard times are what we need to see on the evening news. There should be a law, for every hopeless story they have to show one hope filled report! Wouldn’t that be awesome!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I like how you’re thinking, Elizabeth. I’d love to see more good news instead of mainly bad news. We need to be reminded of all the good things that “ordinary” people do every day out of love for Jesus and for each other!

  15. Betsy de Cruz

    Thanks for sharing your story of hope. Yes, hope does sometimes show up in a human body. Thanks for showing up in Florida last week. Hope will get us through so many difficulties, won’t it?

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, I think we often discount hope. I know I haven’t given it enough credit in the past, but hope is one of the gifts that God gives us so that we can get through things easier. Thanks for pointing this out, Betsy!

  16. Deb Wolf

    This is truly beautiful, Lisa! I love hearing stories like this in a time when negativity seems to dominate the day. In God’s economy, there is love and friendship as we work together to help one another. Blessings!!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      We do need more good stories, I agree, Deb. There are lots to go around, they just don’t always get told. So grateful that I was able to see this story lived out!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      We were blessed to see a different part of Florida than anything we’ve seen before. They told us this was the “real” Florida as opposed to the Disney/beach parts that most people see. 🙂


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