The pervasiveness of Hurricane Harvey is such that everyone in the area has been affected or is closely connected with someone who has been affected emotionally and physically by its devastation. In Richmond, Texas in southwest Houston, members of the Richmond 1 and 2 wards in the Richmond Stake, rallied around fellow saints including Tace Hart, whose home was impacted by the flood waters brought on by the 50 plus inches of rain dumped by Harvey over 5 days.
Hart, his wife away in Bolivia, reported waves of feelings wash over him. “I feel helpless, beyond my control. I’ve lost it several times today. I thought I could do it by myself, but I can’t,” he said as the sheetrock, then insulation was pulled out down to the studs, the carpet and wood flooring ripped up and belongings carried out to the mound of debris growing by the street and over the sidewalk.
And then Hart declared, “It feels wonderful to have help. I got to help others last year, this year I’m getting the help.”
Members from all walks of life participate in the cleanup. Moms, dads, stock brokers, mechanics, surgeons, hospital managers and teens. All feel the love of God through service.
The fact that there is a constant ebb and flow of giving and receiving, serving and being served was not lost on Liz Pabst, who was among those that dispersed after a brief sacrament meeting to render assistance and to help families feel love. “How do you know what people need? You don’t. You just show up, then you will see the need and you can meet it,” she said. “God can use any tragedy to bring about his purposes. Engaging, feeling, interacting, loving, the Lord will put you to work… making sure we are always in debt and always giving. Even my son with a disability was able to do some good today,” Pabst said.
Bishop Ralph Crane saw those that hadn’t been flooded really wanting to reach out. Those who had been flooded were humbled as they look for help, look for the love of the Savior and then come to the realization that they can make it as a family, both individually and as a ward. “We are here to help everyone, neighbors helping neighbors,” Crane said. “There is a man here who has 5 feet of water in his house – so when the water goes down we will go in and help him.”
The Elders Quorum President from the Richmond 1 Ward, Travis Larsen said, “This is how we grow as a brotherhood, this is where we bond as members of our quorum.” He spoke of the high emotions felt as they gathered around Hart. “This is devastating. But it gives the opportunity to rebuild physically and to rebuild spiritually. We are very blessed that this disaster helps us understand what is truly important,” Larsen said.
At age 15, ward member Ralph Niko felt glad to serve. “I really want to help. It feels good, actually doing something to help. It makes me want to get off the couch and help more. It is nothing like on TV – you can see it – smell it – taste it,” he said.
Larsen disagreed with some current sentiment that the younger generation is disinterested and self-centered. “We like to include our children in service so they can have empathy for those who are suffering. Our kids are resilient. If we show them how to work and give them opportunities, they will step up,” he said.
In times like these, opportunities abound and lives are reshaped.