Friday, July 25, 2008

Two Days After...

Just like two days after surgery is the most painful, two days after a hurricane the overwhelming impact of what you've just survived and what is left to deal with hits. I have no real mental focus for my business, although I want to work to have something different to focus on than what is around me here. Sort of a different version of Paul's statement of old, "the things I wish I could do, I can't, and the things I wish I wouldn't do, I find myself doing."

The media heard about our church building's destruction and came to the church to interview Russ and get footage for the evening news. It should be on video stream at:

The parsonage is like Grand Central Station with phone calls, planning meetings, and emergency prayer requests. I'll be honest and say I've had to pray for God to give me grace because even though I'm a people person to the max, I also like a certain amount of alone time each day to decompress.

I'm grateful, though, that we have a place we can use for God and for our community, to reach out to them in their time of need. We will have at least one house guest spend the night, and others coming for a meal tonight, and perhaps a quick shower. And of course, those without power have been invited over to watch the news coverage of our church loss. I'm making a big pot of chile verde because it will feed a crowd and I don't need to fuss in the kitchen all day with it.

The insurance adjuster will be coming on Monday to do the appraisal, and she gave us permission to go ahead an start the clean up work since we have documented everything with photos. So, we will be able to remove the foul-smelling ceiling tile (it has been getting wet for years and years, so you can imagine...) and the soggy carpet. We'll also sort through the hymnals and pew Bibles and separate the damaged pews from the decent ones. Of course, we don't know many churches with mismatched pews, so they will probably count it a total loss since it would be near impossible to find pews to match today since these were quite old. Tomorrow we are calling for a work day for anyone who can come out, but we aren't expecting them to if they have health ailments or their own emergencies to tend to. But there are a few members who really want to have a part in the clean-up, so this will give them a chance to get the church ready for services on Sunday.

Russ and a couple of other guys (thanks Rich and Jesse) already set up the Fellowship Hall for church service on Sunday. We still don't have power, but we are prepared to have at least an abbreviated service no matter what because we don't want to allow the devastation to get the better of us!

So many of you have asked what you can do to help. I know we have cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer coming. We will know more what we need after the adjuster gets the appraisal complete. There will be deductibles to meet for sure. We will be meeting in the Fellowship Hall for several months while the repairs are going on. I'll keep you posted. We are just so blessed to report that as far as we know, no lives were lost in our area due to this horrific storm, and the rescue teams that came in to offer aid to our community were quick and efficient, ready to offer ice, water, and food rations (RTE Army-style).

My odd sense of humor kicks in at the strangest times. Like today when I read that Hurricane Humberto was the last Texas hurricane of 2007 and Dolly the first of 2008--and we experienced BOTH of them. We had Humberto on our way down here to try out for the position. And we warned the people here that extreme weather follows us wherever we go. And then now we have Dolly. "We told you so!"

We aren't discouraged. We have a great God. And we know things could be much worse. And we also know that the church is the people, not the building. But there's just something sacred about that sanctuary, so to see it destroyed really knocks the air out of you when you first walk in.

In fact, when we walk our church members through to tour the damage, it is very similar to being at the funeral home and meeting someone at the door who came to the viewing, and walking them up to the casket telling them all the good memories of the deceased and helping them gently walk the walk of grief to say their good-byes. Those first moments for anyone seeing the damage are very somber.

Thank you, THANK YOU, for your many notes of kindness, prayers, and support.


Vonda Skelton said...

Dear Friends of Raymondville FBC,

Please know that we are praying for you here in SC. We, like you, are shocked at the power of this storm and the destruction it left in its wake. But, like you, we also praise God for His protection.

James 1 tells us to count it all joy when we face such trials. I know that's easy for me to say here in SC, away from all the mess, but I also know that His word is true and does not return void. His word says that through these trials you will persevere and that perseverance will lead you to maturity and that you won't lack anything. What joy it will be to watch what God does through you in this trial! What joy it will be to praise Him in the results of your faithfulness!

Oh, how I thank God at every remembrance of you and our time together!
Vonda Skelton

Anonymous said...

The photos of First Baptist Church of Raymondville brings tears to our eyes. This church is where we grew up and attended. I was Mary and my husband played the part of Joseph when we were still in high school. We were married in the church along with my sister, Brenda and brother-in-law, Jim, my daughter, Jill and her husband Jay, my nieces, Wendy and Jamie. My mother, father, mother-in-law and father-in-law's funerals were held in First Baptist Church of Raymondville. It holds so many fond memories of church members and pastors along with events. It breaks our heart to see it after Hurricane Dolly. Our prayers are with you and sweet members of First Baptist Church of Raymondville. God Bless, Lucy and Dellis Prater