Mrs. Williams (second from left) lost everything she owned in the storm, yet she still thanks God for his persistent love, abiding presence, never-failing faithfulness, and even the “terrible storm.” She frequents our distribution center where one of her daughters serves as a full-time volunteer. She wrote the following letter and I wanted to share it with you.
To the churches and volunteers who have come down here to help us with food, clothes, blankets, towels, all the things we so needed and had taken for granted, I want to express my heart-felt love and appreciation.
You have done so much, and helped for so long, you never gave up on us. There can never be enough said about all of you, about how you have taken care of our needs, down to paper and pens, books, crayons and toys for the children.
We never had any idea that it would take so long for us to recover, and yet, you come! I’m beginning to think we aren’t recovering, but we are starting over. Without each and every one of you, I don’t want to even think about what it would be like here.
I am a 66-year-young grandmother of eleven grandchildren; I have five wonderful daughters that I thank God for. I am very blessed. When I left here to escape the â€œstormâ€, we all thought we’d be home in a couple of days; we took the bare necessities, just a few clothes, and those not the best, some blankets and pillows. I took two changes of clothes, my comforter off my bed and one of my Bibles. Everything I owned had been given to me by my loved ones over the years, nothing fancy, nothing expensive, but now and then I remember a special keepsake a loved one now passed-over had given me or a picture of a special day or smiling children looking down on me from pictures on the wall. These special treasures we all have, just look around, you’ll see what I mean, treasures that bring back sweet memories.
It took us a while to come back, but I wanted to come home. My grandparents lived here, my parents, aunts, uncles, my family. This is our home. It is hard to see everything destroyed. What I do is concentrate on every good and wonderful thing that is being built back. At first, just the clean-up was a wonderful thing to see, then to see the homes being built back, one at a time, our home town. Thank you all!
One of my daughters and I go to the beach three or four times a week. We want to thank God for saving our souls, our lives, our loved ones. We walk, we sometimes take nets and catch a few crabs to boil and eat later. Mostly we just sit on the sand and watch the waves roll in. It’s strange how the same waters can soothe us that once destroyed our towns with such fury and we can still say thank you God, for loving us so much to give us such beauty to enjoy. And thank you Lord for sending your sons and daughters here to lift us upâ€”to help us to become strong. So much to be thankful for! God tears down, God destroys, God restores and saves our souls.
If you asked us, who know the Lord, would we want this storm never to have come, we would have to say this storm destroyed our world, the lives we were accustomed to, it knocked us down, and we couldn’t get up, not without helpâ€”you are that helpâ€”you are God’s hands, His strong arms, you are God’s love to us. I thank God for â€œKatrinaâ€; I see God’s love in all of this. Yes, thank God for the terrible stormâ€”for God is in the midst of the storm, and He has never left us, or forsaken us, even now. My love for God is even greater now, for I have seen the truth of His Word down here in the trenches. His love is there, He never takes His love away. Things come, things go, but God is faithful through it all.
We pray and know God is blessing every one of you.
Thank you and God Bless you and your loved ones, wherever they are.
Brenda J. Williams and Family