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Outreach Update: Reflections from Houston


Just returned from a 10-day mission trip into the broken heart of Houston, Texas w/12 Hopevale Church fam members; an amazing journey. We were assigned to gut out, tear down and clean up homes destroyed by the hurricane & flooding. The pain in the people we served was unimaginable, indescribable and, at times for us, overwhelming. It was far, far worse than on TV.

God placed a strong spirit in each of us as we went day after day, home after home, into this mission with every ounce we had to give. It was an awesome calling for us all to be the hands and feet of Jesus and pour love, love, love, over our Houston families traumatized by the destruction of their lives. It so often reminded me of being back on patrol as a state trooper - in the trenches w/people hurting so deeply and giving them help and hope; sometimes just hugging them and letting them cry. At times I felt guilty about my wonderful, abundant, comfortable life back at home. I was purposed to help these people we touched even more.

Each of our homeowners shared their love for the Lord and, as bleak as their current circumstances were, they were purposed to live forward. We heard story after story of how each survived the hurricane & flooding; some stayed home and experienced their house ravaged and then fill w/4-6 ft of water which brought in snakes, spiders, debris, etc., Some evacuated quickly thinking it would be temporary yet returned to find their homes completey destroyed.

There were literally blocks and blocks of homes destroyed; worse yet were the people still living in homes that sustained extreme damage because they had no where to go and no help. We worked in impoverished areas and middle-class homes; the storm respected no one. I cried the times we had to leave a homeowner because their house was so badly ruined there was nothing we could do for them. One house was cracking in half and many beyond repair.

Their experiences were like something from a horror movie script. In the aftermath, they had to worry about being robbed and the local corner grocery stores were looted so they had no food supply. During our SP orientation we were asked to give TLC to the homeowners. I was so proud of our men, how they worked SO hard non-stop, and also how they expressed great compassion and love for the homeowners for what they suffered.

Our specific work groups were made up of people from Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Florida, Arizona, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Washington state, and ranged from 20-75 yrs in age. The college kids who spent their fall break serving with us were an absolute JOY. I loved their energy, spirit,and intense determination to make a positive impact.

We all agreed, as intense, heart-wrenching, and physically taxing the labor work was...there was no place we'd rather have been then there in the center of the pain-zone helping to restore homes and hearts. We were meant to be a blessing and came back with our own hearts full. We praised God He pressed our hearts to go and try to make a difference. #Houstonstrong

-Bonnie Kanicki