day 3 // hurricane relief.

What a day.

The morning comprised of waking up, eating a quick breakfast, packing lunches, and filling up the am for our first day of work at the site in Rockport, an area that bore a lot of the brunt of Hurricane Harvey.

Before hitting Rockport [about a 30 min drive away], we stopped at a nearby church, St. Peter’s By The Sea where we were treated to the warm hospitality of the staff there [SO many doughnuts omg], signed some waivers, and gathered our tools/protection for the workday ahead.

We were given a bit of a status update regarding the area, and we learned that there was an estimated 3.2 million square feet of hurricane debris.

…Which sent my mind to our car ride over to the church. As we zoomed along the highway in our twelve seater van, Queen blasting from the backseat, our attention was jerked quickly from the road and to the sides and the medians, which harbored ginormous, hundred-foot long heaps of hurricane debris.

It was probably that moment, observing those monstrous piles of trash up against the overcast sky where it sunk in: this is where it gets real. This is why we’re here.

Walking in to St. Peter’s was a mixture of oddness and hope. It was a brand new church [evident by the rush of new-wood/new-paint smell] amidst the remaining wreckage from the hurricane. The architecture was very open, very simple. I love rooms that are 50% or more window [which is what the sanctuary seemed to be].

Once we gathered all of our things, we hopped back in the van to head to the worksite, which we later found out belonged to a woman who has, since Hurricane Harvey hit, spent every day taking care of the animals/livestock of her loved ones and neighbors, cleaning up the debris, dealing with family in the hospital, and helping her family and friends put their lives back together. Needless to say, she’s spent so much of her time giving and doing for others that she has left her home, which was ruined by the hurricane, by the wayside for the most part. One of the sweetest, most humble peoples I’ve ever met, this veterinarian has practically given her life to her community, so the fact that we’re able to pop in for a week and help restore her house is a real blessing.

The water damage was evident in all parts of the house, even the upstairs. We worked the whole afternoon on bringing down the drywall [have you ever felt the insane amount of powerful, “hell yeah” feelings that come with lobbing a sledgehammer at a wall that buckled under your might? Yeah. It’s great.] and removing the insulation [which is not pink cotton candy, btw].

We took a lunch break and some subsequent water breaks, during one of which we found a DONKEY wandering behind this woman’s house [she already had multiple chicken coops behind her house, filled with rogue chickens laying their eggs everywhere, it was great]. We named him Jesus and he was very friendly, allowing us to pet him and fuss over him unnecessarily. He was very thiccc and looked well fed, but we still wondered where he came from.

We made significant progress both upstairs and downstairs, and when we ran out of bags for debris away, we had to stop to clean up and save our work for tomorrow.

On our way home from the work site, we made a much needed pit stop at the Gulf of Mexico at the Rockport Family Beach. The water was so warm, so shallow, so delightfully teal. When we arrived at the beach, however, the guy manning the desk to pay a per-car fee told us to be careful as there was still debris in the water [another somber reminder that, even months later, there are still environmental repercussions from the hurricane]. It’s true what they say– after a major hurricane, nothing is really ever the same, and recovery honestly can take anywhere from 5-7 years [or even 7-10 years. I mean, look at Hurricane Katrina affected areas– they’re just now starting to reach a point of near complete restoration].

We arrived back at the church homestead hot, sore, and exhausted. We all showered right away and prepped for dinner. It was our turn [our priest and I] to cook dinner, and we made tacos followed with Bluebell ice cream [which is, by the way, some of the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten. 13/10, would recommend!!!].

Dinner and dessert was followed by a lovely yoga session led by one of the other mission trip leaders, and followed by a meditative bout of Compline, followed by some delightful fellowship with members from the other groups, an episode of Friends and then and uncontrollable bout of drowsiness that begged our bodies to sleep [we had to be up at 7:30am the next morning anyway].

It was such a productive day, filled with eye-opening moments that made me count my blessings, realize my purpose, realize our purpose. The cool thing?

We get to do it all again tomorrow.


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