Monday, November 5, 2007

Mormon Helping Hands

This last weekend was really great. My ward was asked to participate in a multi-stake service project up in Ramona, where the fires had swept through a week ago. About 20 of us from my ward went up, met at the church building there, had a little devotional, received our work shirts(yellow 'Mormon Helping Hands' shirts), water and our assignments. The group I was in was assigned to a members home, where they had lost their garage and another out building. As we chatted with the owners for a bit, we heard a little of their story. They had been given only 15 minutes to evacuate their home. The fire burned up their hill, destroying the home below them and coming up onto their patio, burning their furniture and brush outside, but the firefighters had fought to save their home for 2 hours. They pulled water out of their pool to save their home. They lost their large garage with all of his tools, their school supplies for their children, whom they home schooled, their kiln, all their outdoor equipment and so many other possessions they had stored out there. This was a huge garage.
So we were assigned to clear away the debris. One of the guys in our group had brought up supplies his work had donated, like work goggles and wonderfully tough gloves which were so appreciated and made the work manageable. We didn't have worry about what was getting in our eyes! We sifted through the rubble for any items they could identify for insurance purposes then started shoveling all the rubble and ash into bags to go into the dumpster. The stucco walls had collapsed in and needed to hacked apart and the chicken wire that runs through stucco needed to be cut so we could move the walls by piecemeal into the dumpster. The garage doors were twisted, melted metal and needed to be removed. The tile melted into a huge, really heavy mass that needed to be moved as well. By the end of the day, we were covered in ash and dirt but we left a completely flat and cleaned space that had been their 4 car garage. I am so amazed with the church and their ability to organize so many people. Our stake provided 600 bagged lunches for everyone and water. While I am sad for those who lost so much, it was satisfying to be able to help them and make their rebuilding process a little easier. The family was grateful for what they did have, they had their home and lives and all they needed was that. It was truly amazing.