After the hurricane
In the aftermath of Harvey, it was my opportunity to reach out
By Cindy Lawson
In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, there was much destruction in the surrounding neighborhoods where we live in Houston. Fortunately our subdivision didn’t flood, but for miles in either direction, other neighborhoods weren’t so fortunate.
Our neighborhood women’s club wanted to reach out to a subdivision in which 85% of the homes flooded. First, there was a call for furniture donations and household goods. With my husband Gary, we decided to give away four maple chairs and table, a child’s wardrobe from my youth, a desk, and an end table. What I thought would have a sentimental reluctance was just the opposite. We were joy-filled as we thought of this giving as an opportunity to love our neighbor concretely.
Then there was a new email asking for help providing meals for flooded families. The names in need were listed, and the families were matched by those willing to participate. Looking over the names, I recognized many who already were matched. I also noticed a Middle Eastern name with the restriction of “no pork” that was not yet assigned a donor. I thought that this would be my opportunity to serve Jesus in the other. Each week I carefully planned a menu that would be appealing and delicious for this family of four — parents, a three-year-old and a six-month-old infant.
Hanieh would pick up the meal on her way home from work. She would always text her appreciation of the meal and her gratitude for my efforts. Each week we had a brief opportunity to visit. Hanieh shared about her concerns on whether she and her husband should rebuild or sell, about parenting tips, her husband’s family and hers, and their work.
Hanieh indicated her interest in meeting other young families in their old neighborhood. Since our daughter and her family have four young children who also live in the same area, I thought that it would be a good opportunity to have a Halloween dinner together. At Christmas, Hanieh gave us a beautiful crystal cross as an appreciation of the meals made and given.
Even after the meal sharing had ended six months later, our friendship continued. We invited them to a fun evening at a fundraising dinner. Just recently we had a pool party with our daughter and family with Hanieh and hers.
We still share texts updating each other on their house remodel progress, the children’s health, and work. Sometimes she asks for prayers for their situation and asks the Almighty to bless our family and me.
She recently had a chiropractic conference in Dallas where there was a discussion of people who bring joy, light, and encouragement to others and what a difference these individuals can make to others. She said that she immediately thought of me and thanked God for our friendship, a friendship which began by reaching outside of myself and loving the other during a personal and emotional upheaval.
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