Monday, November 12, 2012

Finding a Wheel to Put My Shoulder To

Where did the week go?
Governor Christie say the power should have been fully restored to 'everyone' yesterday.
We still have three in the ward without power, some only got it back Friday and Saturday.
We talked about what we feel the hardest part of not having power was, and because we had hot water and a stove top, for me the hardest part was that darkness, the shadows in the house and how depressing it got so quickly. It was worse than being cold, the uncertainty and the boredom here. Everything going dark when the sun set and how quickly night seemed to come in a world where we always have some type of light 24/7. 
It may sound silly, but for me, that was probably the hardest.
When one of the women in the ward got power back on Friday, she posted that she was resisting the urge to turn every light in the house on. I laughed because that's exactly what Zane did.
I spoke to another woman who just got power yesterday and she said that the darkness got her so depressed, too. 
I would not have expected that to be such a big deal and to have such an impact, but it did.
At the suggestion of a friend from my old ward, I plan to write up my own little 'family preparedness' review and share my feelings about specific things we did or did not do, and my personal advice that people can either take or ignore based on our lifestyle differences. 
I'll get to that when it stops being 400 paragraphs long each time I try to write it all out.

We only had darkness for 6 days. 
For some entire communities, that was nothing.

I think I mentioned in my last post that last Sunday, those age 15 and older who were willing and able we asked to go and help clean up in Staten Island. Zane went and worked alongside the amazing people in our ward who serve so much. Matt went on a gasoline run to another state for those who needed it.

This weekend they asked again that people go and help in Staten Island.
This ward works so hard and does so much service for others, I do not know when some of the men rest or see their families, they work so hard. Even though I'd rather have them here with me, I am honored to know that Matt and Zane roll up their sleeves and go work, too.
 They are sweating and working alongside the absolute salt of the Earth. I'm learning so much from them, and seeing some places our family can and should make changes. I see places I need to make changes- big time. Thankfully,that's what our time on Earth is for- to learn, to grow and to change. 
I am so blessed to know these folks.

Staten Island is a disaster.
 Matt has never seen anything like it.
 It's absolutely devastated.
There isn't going to be a day where the lights come on in many of these homes. There will be bulldozers after it's cleared out enough to even get those in.

 Can you see the water line on the front door? 
Nearly everyone in this community lost everything. 

They cleared out houses, knocked out wet drywall and hauled it to the curb, cleared wet mud from basements, and offered comfort to the residents.
One man asked 'You Mormons" to come to his yard, he had something to say to all of 'yous guys.'
He told them how much it meant to him and to his family that they came out to help, how touched he was and how it renewed his faith in people, how they were angels and would always be spoken of with respect in his family, long after this was all over. 
When he rebuilds, he will hang a picture of 'the Mormon's in his front room and he asked that they all gather for a photo in hie front yard. 

Yesterday, church was only 2 hours. We had the primary program and then they asked that crews head back out to clean up the Island. People showed up in work clothes, and it was the first time I'd seen many people in jeans and T-shirts in this ward.

My back and arthritis are simply in too bad of shape to help with the clean up. They have also asked that only those age 15 and older come to help. I cannot go, neither can many of the mothers in the ward.
It's frustrating and I've struggled with what to do.

Not only did we endure being without power, but I felt very powerless throughout the experience as well.
I didn't know what I could do to make things better outside of my own home. At the worst of it, that was what I needed to focus on, keeping things feeling okay here at home, but there were so many others who had it so much worse, I wanted to help more. My body just won't allow it and financially we cannot afford to make large donations to the Red Cross or those harder hit.
 When Matt mentioned that there was a family on Saturday whose wife wanted to go and work, but they had small kids, I realized that was what I can do. I can physically serve my sisters by giving their kids a safe and fun place to play while they go work with their husbands. 

I can help, too.
I am not useless.  
Sometimes, I feel useless and I tell myself that if I can't fix it, I need to just stay out of the way of those who can. 
THAT makes me feel great, but outside of providing food for things, I did not know what else I could do.
I've been praying so that I would find a way to serve here, that would work with my limitations.
I wanted so very much to be part of those who said "here I am, Lord, send me!" but my body just can't do it. For the first time since this hit, I feel I have found a way to do that, a useful way and I can meet a physical need. 
I can get back to what matters and feel like myself again once I stop focusing so much on myself.
I am thankful for the Robinson family for giving me the opportunity to see that. 
Yesterday was a blessing to me.

 My house is covered in sticky fingerprints and I came thisclose to having walls with artwork scribbled on them again, but I feel like I have found a way to contribute and do my part. 

We all have different talents and different limitations, be they physical or emotional. We all struggle to know where boundaries are and to find that line between rendering service and having boundaries. We want to serve and have a positive feeling about it and teach our children the blessings that are derived from it. It's hard to do when the price is your health if you serve. It's hard to feel like you are doing 'your' work sometimes when the conventional ways to serve are not an option.
Take heart, there is a work for you to do.

Get creative, try different things.
Can you help watch children while someone goes on a much needed temple night with her husband? Can you bring cookies to the Sister who just seems to be in a funk every time you see her? Can you go to the home of the Sister who just had a baby and read stories to her other children and help them clean their room? Can you make sure you teach your class on Sunday and get your own sub if you are not able to make it? Can you spend time every week either doing your own family history or indexing names? Can you pray for others? Can you put their names in the temple? Can you send a card to a missionary? 

What can you do to serve?
There is something and if you are feeling like you need to do something more, something different....pray to the Lord that he will show you where there is a need that YOU can fulfill. There is work for us all and there is work for you- exactly you. 

I have so much to learn about service, so much room for improvement. 
I am with people who have embraced it with such a fire, it's inspiring to us all- it's changing us.
I'm going to figure this out, with the help of the Lord, my dear family and my new community. I know that as I serve more and turn my eyes to others more, that even when the lights are out and shadows surround me, I will not be in darkness. 
Darkness is no fun. 
That darkness got old really quick and The Savior has light, always light. 
I hope I can learn to draw closer to it, to always have that light nearby.
I'm trying my best and still learning while I polish off the rest of the treats we made yesterday.


  1. Another really wonderful post. I think you should consider submitting this to the Ensign. Really.

  2. Chris,

    I agree with Julie to begin with. Secondly I wanted to let you know you are wrong. You think you weren't helping anyone until you started watching kids. You have been serving all us readers with news we can rely on and hope from what looks from the outside to be total anarchy. I am looking forward to reading your prep blog and also cant wait for the next trip to the thrift store! You have a gift Chris and the Lord is helping you touch hearts that you may not even know.

  3. Both of you made me cry! Good crying, and I needed it. Thank you Julie, for being such a great blog buddy and for not beating me EVERY time in Words with Friends and thank you "Beauf" for your kind comment and support. :)

  4. Chris, I just came across this, and it moved me to tears, literally. You and I are so similar in so many ways - turning to God and knowing that he will provide, and the compulsive need to help others. What I've seen in the past few weeks has been nothing short of humbling.

    It makes me happy that you've embraced your new community; I just knew that you'd be a good fit for the East Coast. We are so grateful to have you.