FISHing – was this really only one week?

By Peggy Hahn

Cora Margaret and Jacob Dylan

On the Sunday we baptized Cora Margaret (my 3 month preemie granddaughter who is now seven months old) the Bastrop County and Lutherhill Wildfires started.  Everyone did their best to respond in some way.  On Wednesday baby Jacob Dylan was born (my 1 month preemie grandson.)  By the way, I’m no longer a believer in due dates.  On Saturday 70 volunteers came together as a church to care for people in need.  WOW!

Faith fluency – The feeling of watching your son making promises at the font to share his faith with his niece will take your breath away, trust me.  There are those moments when you are raising your children when you wonder how they will live into their faith and their adult life – do you know what I mean?  And then there are those really holy moments when you see how God is working in your own children’s lives.  It’s true what they say – our children really do catch the faith from the parents – generation to generation.  All of this makes me want to strengthen my faith practices to increase my influence on my own children.

Bastrop County fire

Interdependence – There is nothing like a crisis to bring people together.  But it’s not as accidental as you might think.  Take the wildfire response we just shared.  We could do what we did (work with the Bastrop, Smithville and La Grange communities) BECAUSE we were somewhat prepared, (24 hr Lutheran) BECAUSE we have a strong network (Lutheran Campus Ministry, Lutheran Outdoor Ministry, Synod Staff, Congregational Leadership, Ecumenical Partnerships, Lutheran Disaster Response and Lutheran Social Services)  and BECAUSE we showed up.  None of this would have worked without some level of preparation, connectedness and leadership.  I’m writing this to point out the obvious – we have a proven system of relationships that can get things done when we work together – the strength of the church is the spirit working through the networks.

Smithville Day Camp - over 1500 families lost their homes.

Sending – Seventy volunteers showed up with three days notice.  Are you kidding?  I guarantee these people were not just hanging out looking for something to do – they changed their lives to show up.  As we were intending to host two day camps as a pilot for a first-response to a disaster, we called on our trained young leaders – and they came!  We didn’t have time to equip people to work with children so we used our networks.  Imagine the response if we had just said “We need you!” to the whole church.  In case you ever think no one cares, I am here to say, the church does care and they will come.  Thank you so much for your response:  Brazos Valley Campus Ministry, Texas Lutheran University, alumni staff at Camp Lutherhill, Camp Chrysalis and Camp Hope.

Home – Over 1,500 families have lost their homes.  The long term response starts now.  There may be a way we can help.  One shock for me during this week was the huge amount of in-kind donations that poured into both Smithville & Bastrop.  I’m not sure what to think about the fact that Smithville (population about 4000) filled 4 buildings with hand-me-downs in one week.  Huge generosity?  Desire to help?  Cleaning the closets?  Katrina victims will tell you that in the last 6 years they have replaced much of what they lost (except the most precious family photos and treasures, to be sure.)  It all makes me think about managing “stuff.”  The Red Cross has a system that effectively shelters people but what about the donations?  The cycle of buying, using, throwing away or donating seems like a challenge we can all wrestle with on a personal level.

Final thoughts… “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,” Psalm 46:1-2a, is ringing in my ears. In the tensions of life and death God is holding us together.

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