“God chose you to be able to help me.” That’s what Alfton Turner, LSG Specialized Foster Care Recruiter, said about our group’s presence in Albany, GA helping with the recovery effort following Hurricane Michael. She wrote,
When the storm happened I was very overwhelmed because I did not know what I would do in regards to getting the trees up and the house fixed. After the storm I really felt helpless and after this experience it really made me feel as though I was at alone. To have you guys come help me really showed me that I am not alone and I am loved. When you all were helping me you showed genuine interest and wanted to help and we even had a great conversation. I love each of you and I am thankful that God chose you all to be able to help me. It means so much!
~ Alfton Turner, LMSW, BSW (Lutheran Services of Georgia, Specialized Foster Care Recruiter)
Here’s the update from John Osberg about three days in Albany with Rob, Bob, and Tim.
This was one of the most fulfilling and meaningful experiences of my life. I have never felt so loved by so many in one place in my life! Some of my personal highlights of our mission trip were:
- Enjoying fellowship with 3 great friends that came together to serve others. Clearly we accomplished so much because we worked so well together. And we accomplished a lot – Clearing a downed forest at 5 homes is a real feat! Our personal skills, capabilities and gifts complemented each other’s so well. Part of our cleanup consisted of removing debris, trees, branches, etc,. that came down in the hurricane. It was hard physical work with poison ivy, fire ants and other “land mines”. But more importantly as it turned out, we did a lot of trying to restore hope and faith that was shattered in the lives the victims of the hurricane. And we did that well. Not only for homeowners but for 2 church communities that needed to have someone from outside the community show concern, compassion and encouragement. We gave a lot of hope too. We did all that and probably a lot more. Rob and Bob were amazing gifts to all the homeowners—from passing the football with a young son, to ministering to the quadriplegic, to listening when Alfton told her story. She is an example of a survivor that is just determined to do more with her life than so many others can appreciate. Tim quietly guided me throughout the cleanup effort, and was constantly innovating ways to be more efficient – quicker. Huge cleanup was done in half the time any other team we saw or worked with would have done it – again, because of his creativity and, oh yeah, a very strong back.
More importantly as it turned out, we did a lot of trying to restore hope and faith that was shattered in the lives the victims of the hurricane.
- Sharing a prayer offered by Carmalete after we had cleared the massive downed forest of branches and trees from her back yard. I closed my eyes during her prayer for us, and went into a place of kindness and comfort she created in her prayer. When I opened my eyes I saw that Carmalete was so touched by the moment that she was tearing. Big tears. Elephant tears. Her words of kindness for us were amazing, but I’ll always remember how she was also so overtaken by our gift of service to her. That’s Carmalete in the picture above.
- Being recognized in the church service Sunday morning. Every member seemed like it was important to them to introduce themselves to us, and let us know how they appreciated what we were doing. I was totally overwhelmed by the kindness and caring of the 2 churches’ leadership and membership that hosted us. Anything we wanted they accommodated. Over and over again.
- Having the choir select at least one song that celebrated us and our efforts. After the service I was told by a choir leader that for the offering, they selected a song for us, and one that was their first or second all-time most favorite song. Not knowing that during the service it was still the most powerful moment of the day for me. And I cried elephant tears because the song and their beautiful voices touched me so much. It was the only time this weekend I really lost it. I think one of the lyrics went:
Let the rain come down, that activating rain,
That causes us to change
From glory to glory
- The box lunches that were prepared for us on our last day in Albany. I have never had a sandwich put together so carefully. And obviously with so much love. (actually we got 2 sandwiches in each box-I ate both. I never eat 2 sandwiches for lunch).
I can go on and on. Many thanks to the people of LCR who donated so generously to support this work. Because of your generosity, many needy families got a little more hope in their dark time, and some security!