Just as there was some uncertainty as to where Hurricane Irene would finally hit, Curt and I headed to
North Carolina not knowing exactly where we would end up. We packed the truck and trailer, picked up
Brian Brodil, who has traveled with us before, and Saul, a friend from the Barnabas House, and headed
north. We arrived in Wilmington, NC around midnight, just as winds were picking up and rain was being
driven sideways. We were blessed to stay with Pastor Mel from CC Wilmington and his boys for two nights
while we waited out the storm.
Wilmington suffered minor damage, so after one job, we headed to Jacksonville, NC, home of the Marines’
Camp Lejeune. There we met Pastor Greg and his wife Cory from Calvary Chapel Jacksonville and their
wonderful congregation. We asked if we could stay at the church, but Pastor Greg and Cory took us into
their home and cared for us like family. We were all touched and inspired by their selflessness and
generosity in accommodating us. They are true servant leaders.
During the first week, we were joined by Bob Ball, who had attended our hurricane training in Sarasota in
May. Our first job was to clear a tree that had fallen across the road. Because it was tangled in the power
lines, we had to wait for a go-ahead from the county. A cul-de-sac of homes had been blocked in since
Saturday and it was now Monday. The neighbors really took care of each other; one made coffee each
morning, one with a generator made meals, and they all checked on each other. The couple whose tree had
fallen across the road was Del, a retired Marine gunny on oxygen, and Jackie, who was in bed because of
multiple health issues. We hooked up a generator for them so they could have refrigeration and a few fans.
Del was in tears as we took care of the tree. We loved hearing his military stories, and Brian really enjoyed
talking to him. We could see Del’s countenance change and relax as the yard was cleared.
After Bob left, a van full of Bowery men arrived. They were put up in a house that a family in the church is
trying to sell; it was empty but the utilities were still on. Several families stepped up to loan air mattresses,
linens, etc., and to prepare meals for the guys. The seven men were a huge help to us, and we enjoyed daily
devotions together. Many of the guys really asked some thought-provoking questions as we studied God’s
Word together to see what He had to say on some real life issues! In two weeks, we completed twenty-
two jobs. The majority of the damage came from trees that had fallen on houses, or across roads,
driveways or fences. Sometimes, it was only the four of us working, but at other times we had as many as
twenty people on one job site. We were tremendously blessed by Stephanie Allen and her children, and
Kelly Anderson and her children. They just kept showing up to help out! Abi, Izzy, and Skyler raked,
dragged large branches, and pushed wheelbarrows. Christian, Clay, and Richey got right in there and seemed
to think the bigger and heavier the log, the better. Dahlia was my own personal hug support. The
homeowners always seemed to be affected by the kids. The adults were great, too. Stephanie organized
meals for the Bowery guys and cooked us a delicious chicken dish. Kelly baked treats for everyone. Terri,
Glenda, and Jennifer not only made lunches for us, but also delivered them to us at different job sites.
Hiedi made us lunch and we enjoyed fellowship under her trees. Tom (Navy) and Jim (Marines) worked
with us and also connected us with some very strong recruits who always seemed to show up just when we
were starting to tire out. We were honored to serve alongside those who serve our country and risk their
lives for our freedom.
All told, over fifty volunteers came from the church or came through someone at the church to help us. It
is always interesting to see how the Lord leads on these trips. One day, God sent us six Marines to help out,
but the job we had lined up was canceled. I prayed, wondering why we had all this help but no job. It
turned out that one of the Marines knew someone who needed help so that was where we went! We had to
have the Marine in order to have the job! Another day, we were finishing a job in Maysville. I called our
next job, which was back in Jacksonville, and the homeowner told me it was pouring there. Since it was not
raining in Maysville, Curt drove around to look for another job there. He hadn’t found anything and was just
about to give up when the Lord urged him to go a little farther. Sure enough, he found a house with a tree
across the driveway. He knocked for a long time before anyone answered. (Later, Cynthia told us she
almost wasn’t going to answer the door!) Cynthia was very discouraged because nobody in her neighborhood
had come to see if she was okay. We were able to share that God saw Cynthia’s need and came right to her
doorstep with help. Her mother, Madie, was a born-again believer who encouraged us with her love for the
Lord and charismatic personality.
We also saw God’s leading among our team. It has been awhile since Brian has traveled with us, so we
marveled that God “just happened” to send Brian on this particular trip to the place where he was once
stationed as a Marine. He had some opportunities to share that we did not have since he had the military
background (and the haircut). He also turned out to be an excellent tool guy. Saul was skilled with a
chainsaw (in fact, his name has been modified to Sawl) and worked tirelessly all day long. Bob was a great
help to us, and was also greatly encouraged in his own walk with the Lord through the fellowship and sharing
that took place during the week. The Bowery guys attended Clay’s high school football game, and Kelly said
(with a few tears) that it really touched her heart and Clay’s.
We met many wonderful people in Jacksonville. We really felt like CC Jax was our home church, and found
it very difficult to say goodbye. We feel like we made some special friends in the church and the
community. We wanted to take Stick and Debbie Lewis, a couple whose home had a tree through the roof,
home with us! We are especially excited because the church body at CC Jax really seems to have caught
the vision for continuing the work that was begun; they are the remnant who must continue to encourage
and disciple those who have heard the Good News. (There have already been follow-up visits and cookie
distributions!) Pray that the Lord would bless and multiply the good work that is being carried out in
Jacksonville, NC; that the seeds that were planted would bear much fruit; and that those who blessed us
with love and meals and accommodations would be blessed a hundred times over for their kindness.