I am the lighting designer most Sundays here at Grace. I love serving in production here but recently my family and I got to serve in a whole new way. My parents are part of a disaster relief organization called Samaritan’s Purse. When a disaster happens, this organization will put a call out for help. It’s a very unique organization that distributes Bibles to homeowners who are experiencing tragedy, prays for them, and when dealing with a fire, sifts through debris to try and recover meaningful items that may have survived the disaster.
Last month, my parents received a call to go and help with efforts to clean up from the fire in Paradise, California. Over 18,000 homes were destroyed and many lives were lost in that fire. When my parents looked at the timing of when they could go, they realized I would be on break from school and asked if I wanted to go. My initial reaction was no because I’m committed to being here on Sundays. Time passed. They again asked if I was sure that I didn’t want to join them and I agreed to pray about it, but wasn’t convinced I should go. My mom encouraged me to ask for the time off and she promised me it would be a blessing for me to go. Just a few days before they left, I got word that I was not on the production schedule during the time they were going, so I felt like God had opened the door. I decided to go.
Our time there was spent meeting with homeowners to sift through debris in an effort to help them find things that are meaningful. What I found is that being with people who are sad is hard. Sometimes I experienced guilt that others are hurting at a capacity I could never imagine. It’s interesting to see and hear what people going through so much loss want to find in the ashes. What really impacted me was how quickly what we hold on to can be gone. While I hope something like this doesn’t ever happen to me or anyone else, it gave me a new understanding of what matters. People matter. Their pain matters. How we show up for people matters. Ultimately it’s not about what we find, it’s about who we choose to be for these people. I’m really glad I went.