Friday Morning at 6 a.m., 11 Trevecca students and faculty loaded up and headed for the 13-hour trek to Orange, Texas, to serve those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Little did we all know, this would be a fall break filled with hours of hard work and sweet memories.
The first morning that we were at Orange First Church of the Nazarene, we rolled out of our cots to head to breakfast. We were greeted with 15 men of the church who gathered together for men’s breakfast. Once the pastor gave a devotion, he asked the men to go around and share how they have seen the hand of God in their lives recently. This is the part of the trip that blew me away. Several men stood up and shared how even through the tragedies of the flood, they still saw the hand of God in their situations. You could tell that these sweet men were exhausted. Every time they stood up to spoke, their eyes would fill with tears but they still proclaimed how God was in their midst of their crisis. Specifically, one man said that the flood gave him the opportunity to pray with his dad, which he had never done before. He said that the flood was worth it all because he had the chance to pray with his 84-year-old father. As soon as he said that, my eyes filled with tears—talk about an emotional morning! It was so incredible to hear these men and be face-to-face with someone affected by the flood, but they were still so joy filled. The pastor was smiling as he told us he lost everything. Smiling. What a testimony of where their joy comes from, am I right?
After breakfast we grabbed our facemasks and gloves and went to work in the church where we were staying. We spent hours sanding the walls, washing the chairs that the congregation would sit in and mopping the floors. Orange First Church was completely gutted and had to start over. Even though we weren’t contractors, we served by doing the little things that would add to the overall transformation of the church.
On the second day, we went to a distribution center and saw the faces of those who were in need of help since the hurricane. We gathered in a warehouse and assembled boxes filled with canned goods, toothpaste, toilet paper, and other household items. Along with a care package, we gave out four cases of water per family who came. In the 90-degree heat, we stood outside as hundreds of cars lined up to receive help. As each car lined up, we greeted them and filled their car with the boxes filled with items to help meet their most basic needs. If we weren’t helping load cars, we were sorting clothes and getting those ready for yet another distribution day. The generosity of others was apparent in this warehouse. I was blown away by the cases and cases of food and water that were donated to help the people of Orange County and the surrounding areas. When we came to the end of getting rid of the donations, we sadly had to turn cars away, but as soon as we ran out of donations, a semi truck from Wyoming pulled in and unloaded pallets and pallets of food, furniture, school supplies and so much more. We all stood there amazed at how good God is and how He always provides. It was like we were experiencing God feed the 5,000 when we saw that semi truck pull up.
The third and last day that we were there, we went to a Nazarene church that had been completely flooded. We pulled up to church pews crumbled up in the parking lot, along with the rest of interior of the church. Our job was to go through the bases of the wood and pull out every single nail so that way they could literally rebuild the inside of the church. The church that we were working with is not only trying to rebuild themselves, but they are also trying to keep their sister church from being torn down and are sending teams there to serve as well.
During the hours of sweat and hard work, Orange First Church was seriously so hospitable to us. We had members of the church come and bring us snacks, make us dinner and ask if we needed anything. I was taken aback because we came all this way to serve them, and yet here they are serving us. These people have lost everything, yet they are so generous.
This trip was just a beautiful picture of what the church looks like. Generosity is an incredible thing, and I am so thankful Trevecca allowed me the opportunity to go and be the hands and feet of Jesus.
By Kelly Hall, Senior