Sunday, January 18, 2009

Notes from my journal this weekend

Hurricane damage in Galveston, TX four months after Hurricane Ike hit. Yes, that is a boat crushing a truck in a store's parking lot. Within 0.5 miles on this road, there were four boats in different parking lots and many had been tagged either by angry residents or gangs.

September 13, 2008
My sister and I packed our bags and left Kauai for Oahu. In the back of my mind I knew Texas' coast was going to be battered by Hurricane Ike, but I didn't know how bad it would be. Galveston - demolished. Only one house standing for miles.

November 7, 2008
John and I drove to New Orleans for a mini-vacation since neither of us had gone before. On our drive out there, we still saw overturned boats in the bayou and houses falling halfway in three years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. New Orleans painted a different picture. The B&B we stayed at was in a dying neighborhood. Businesses vanished; the homeless and unwanted (there is a difference) were on the streets. I was haunted by the newspaper images of doors with orange spray painted numbers indicated the number of dead in the home. Homes where all walks of life had lived. A city that is still recovering.

December 13, 2008
John and I split. He told me that in the long run he would hold me back from my dreams, and in the end I would hate him for it. John believed it was in my best interest; I believe it was in his, so I wouldn't tie him down.

The loneliness has been unbearable at times. I gave him everything I had - emotionally, mentally, and physically. In my mind the two of us were no longer individuals, but rather a couple. In the end, he still rejected me. I wasn't good enough. I began to question who I am and what I am about. Who am I? What causes do I believe in? Do I truly believe in God? Why is it so hard for me to let go? Can two people form one union but still be unique in their identities? Why have I lost hope in the human race? Are people really that materialistic and conceited? Do I expect too much? Do I live too little? Will I ever be content and happy? Will I ever stop fearing? Why can't I just stop thinking and start doing? What keeps me from going all in?

My soul is unsettled, and I need to find peace with the decisions I have made this past year. From this day forward it is my quest to find myself in the rubble.

January 16, 2009
I drove with two strangers for five hours to Galveston. Excitement. Nerves. Anxiety. Ninety-five people from Austin, Dallas, Houston, and Mississippi united and got their hands dirty together. I am amazed at how generous and helpful people are in a time of need even when they are in need. Survivors of Hurricane Katrina, people who still need help rebuilding, have helped us rebuild from Hurricane Ike. It comforts me knowing that there are strangers who can give unconditionally and without expectation. While the number of selfish people in this world still outnumber the generous, my faith is slightly restored in humanity.

January 17, 2009
Jenny, her mom, and I got up early to walk on the beach and see how bad the damage is from the hurricane still. The one thing that affected me the most was the door frame that stood where a mobile home once did. While we took the opportunity for a photo op, it felt creepy to do so. Somebody's life was destroyed because of the hurricane.

We went back to the church for breakfast and prayer followed by going to our assigned houses. Before we left, this man in overalls and long hair drove up on a scooter, handed a Valentine's bear to Jenny and a school bear to Aletha, grinned, and left without saying a word. We ended up calling the episode "the teddy bear drive by." Later in the evening, a lady who has been serving with Mobile Loaves and Fishes said a guy looking exactly like our teddy bear driver went up to their trailer as they were handing out drinks and food, told them he didn't want anything (by answering all their questions with one word) and threw five dollars at them. This mystery man will always make us wonder what his intent and purpose was, but he put a smile on our faces with his random act of teddy bear kindness. He will be in my prayers.

When we got on-site, we were debriefed about the two houses. Both owners were disabled; one rented the house to her sister who nearly destroyed the place. The lady's mom was never supportive and she only made $200 per week while living in California, yet she is putting her niece through college. I was happy to see the owners contribute to the cleanup. In the morning, a neighbor offered drinks out of the generosity of her heart.

The lady across the street came by with a walking cane. She had stayed with her son for a few months and had to gut her downstairs. She was still recovering from the storm and was glad that we were helping her neighbors so that their living conditions could improve and they could move back.

The three of us from Austin Christian Fellowship (ACF) worked with a team of 18 from Long Beach, Mississippi. ACF has a long relationship with that community in Mississippi as we helped them rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. I have never worked with a greater group of people. And the kids who were working with us were so well-mannered, open, and generous. I hope someday that my kids are exactly like that.

January 18, 2009
Somehow hope still exists in this Galveston community. I think people bring hope to the city; we brought hope. The hope is not just that someday their city will be back to normal, but also that people care. Hurricanes destroy; people rebuild. I could never be able to, yet I keep destroying my life to constantly have to rebuild. I have the hope that I can rebuild my crushed heart and soul. This trip was the first step.

Admist the rubble, just a door stands from a mobile home.


Scale Junkie said...

What an amazing post. I've never looked at it quite that way but you are so right. There is enough devastation in the world without us causing destruction to our own bodies!

Erin Toberman said...

Thank you so much for helping us here in Galveston! Where did you stay?

Teale said...

This was an amazing entry!