18 September 2017

“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity...
a time to tear down and a time to build”
(Ecclesiastes 3)

By Pastor Alexis Twito
Milwaukee County Chaplaincy Program Coordinator, currently deployed in Texas

On Monday, Sept. 11, I began my first day of a two-week deployment in Victoria, Texas doing hurricane relief work with The Salvation Army. I'm serving here on the Emotional & Spiritual Care Team. And after only a week, I've seen something that gives me hope. Today, I saw signs of new life. Signs of rebuilding.

As we made the 45-minute drive into Victoria from the motel, we passed a huge caravan of bucket trucks and construction vehicles -- an army of electricians, engineers, carpenters, and other laborers on their way to help the communities rebuild.

In various neighborhoods, the large pile of tree cuttings and branches sitting along the road that had been cleared away from the homes were starting to be collected and taken away.

Where yesterday there was none, today I saw cell phone towers erected and road signs being repaired and repositioned.

At the canteen over lunch, we served dozens of people taking a break from a long morning of cleaning, fixing, and building. People who were covered in drywall dust and paint, sweaty from working on broken fences and cleaning up disheveled living spaces, wearing hard hats and work belts. People who were working on their own homes and people who had been working on the homes of neighbors, friends or family members.

Recovery from Hurricane Harvey will be long. The devastation is so widespread. And in the midst of such extensive destruction and loss, and so much despair, days like today are hopeful. There are so many people at work, from all over the country, to help rebuild communities like a Victoria, Texas. I'm so proud of our Salvation Army volunteers doing their part to support the recovery work.

So we will continue to bring meals into neighborhoods where residents are working to rebuild their homes. And we will continue to make sure the laborers stay hydrated by giving them water and Gatorade. And when people need help knowing where to turn for help, or when they just need a shoulder to lean on, we'll continue to send chaplains to provide emotional and spiritual care. And bit by bit, together, we will rebuild.