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Youth in Mission

Beautiful Disaster

Elizabeth (Lizzy) Alley

01/01/2011

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Close your eyes and imagine the sun. Imagine a breeze moving through the leaves in the trees and feel the warm August air, with just the tiniest hint of fall on the way.

With this picture still in your mind, I want you to imagine something else. Imagine waking to the sound of rain. The rhythmic sound of its “tap, tap, tap” on the window, or the roof, or the car, or the building, or the classroom—or wherever you are.

Imagine that hours into your day the rain is still falling, but now at a faster pace. You go to sleep with the rain in your ear.You awaken and it is still falling. It’s falling harder today than it was yesterday, and it’s falling fast. Maybe you’re curious about it, and you wonder whether it’s going to stop anytime soon. Maybe it won’t. Rain can be beautiful, and rain can be a beautiful disaster.

It was late August when I experienced rain like that. I woke up one morning to the sound of rain. I went to sleep that night to the sound of rain. I woke up the next morning to the sound of rain. I drove to school to the sound of rain. But when I was driving, I noticed something different: the fields on the sides of the roads were completely full of water. Where rows of dirt had once been, lakes had taken over. As I continued driving, the condition of my surroundings worsened. I saw houses that didn’t look like houses anymore; they were completely flooded out. Vehicles floated in yards that had turned into ponds. Tree limbs and logs were floating in all directions. Roads were blocked off, and big chunks of pavement had washed out of the highway. Everything had been touched by water, and the rain just kept on falling.

In school that day, several people were praying about the rain. If it kept falling, the situation would worsen. People’s lives could be in danger. God listens to every single thought, every single idea, every single whisper and every single prayer. God listens to every single person, no matter what. The next day, the rain stopped for the first time in two days, and the sun came out—finally.

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A family down the road from our school and church— good friends of many of our students and church members—took a hard blow from the storm. They own a body shop that was flooded out when the creek behind their house swelled and took over. It was devastating. I can only imagine how it would feel to have your life’s work just wash away right in front of you without being able to stop it. I can hardly fathom it. My heart goes out to all who suffer. Rain can be a beautiful disaster.

Our school pulled together to create our very own disaster relief team to help the family rebuild what the rain had washed away. We loaded up a trailer and van and headed over to their place. When we arrived, we were amazed to see people were already working there— neighbors, friends, church members and other staff from our school. We joined the already hardworking crew, and every one of us found something to do. We scrubbed and cleaned, threw away everything that was ruined, and tried to make everything that was left look as new as possible.

The most amazing part was the look on the owners’ faces as we worked to help them. Their thankful expressions made such an impact on me. When I think of teamwork, I still think of those smiling faces and of how easily everybody worked together without complaint.

How much better—and easier—life would be if a little cooperative effort were all it took to create happiness! I have a theory about God. I think He sometimes challenges us in strange ways to see how we deal with the challenges—and what we do with them. I think sometimes He wants us to see that we can accomplish more together than we can alone. Working together goes right to the source of our emotions, even creating feelings of love. You don’t always work with or help others because you love them; sometimes you do it in order to love them.

Because I was part of the team that helped make things better at the site of a beautiful disaster, I now feel love for anyone who has been hurt by flood waters—those who have lost, those who have rebuilt. I feel love knowing that we all worked together to make things better.