Field Note #146: The Power of Texas Spirit and Filters
I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I set out for Port Arthur/Beaumont, Texas with a car full of water filters and pre-drilled 5 gallon buckets provided by Wine To Water and prepped by Texas A&M Wine To Water students....but witnessing the heart of Texans in action fed my soul.
I met wonderful volunteers at Catholic Charities of Beaumont who have not stopped working to ensure essential supplies get to the people devastated by Harvey, most especially water! They stopped what they were doing when I arrived with the filters and hugged me. I cried from feeling so small.
Following the semi-truck into Port Arthur, my heart sank at the destruction left in Hurricane Harvey's path. Rotting wood, soaked carpeting, ruined drywall, destroyed furniture sat stacked in piles lining every street. But when the supply truck pulled in, residents dealing with salvaging anything representing their lives from merely days before stopped what they were doing to help unload. Their volunteerism, however, was not self-serving, but instead driven by the desire to make sure "Mr. So-and-So gets the supplies he needs before anyone else." Or to make sure the "Xxxx family gets what they need for their babies first." Neighbors not just helping neighbors...but loving their neighbors as Jesus taught. I knew that leaving water filters in their care would provide clean water to countless others. They cried real tears of joy.
As the day wore on, I remained struck by the number of pick-up trucks lining both sides of every street. These "knights in shining armored trucks" are a cadre of Texans who offer assistance to anyone needing help ripping out drywall, studs, carpet etc., and hauling out to the curbside for daily pick-up. I couldn't watch anymore, so I decided to roll up my sleeves and pitch in. A few of us split our time in homes and a church destroyed by Harvey's wrath. It's brutal work in the Texas heat, but no one complains. It's truly a labor of love. When I knew I needed to go, the "knights" gave me a hug. I was dwarfed by their size yet I have never felt so tall... lifted by the mercy of God's work and fueled by Texas spirit. I asked if there was anything else I could do before I left. Watching a mother get her child a cup of clean water from the filter, one of the knights smiled and said, "Ma’am, that's about as good as it gets."