Sept. 21, 2017

Dear Hyde Park Family,

There were a lot of responses to my Midweek Message last week. In both my Midweek and my sermon, I invited us to reflect on what Hurricane Irma has taught us: about ourselves, what we value, what we fear, how we will be better prepared, and how we will respond to those who are suffering.

I received dozens of responses from you all, each one precious and poignant, and far more numerous than I can share with you today. Here is just a sampling of lessons you have learned, with permission from those who shared them with me:

ON GETTING PREPARED

As we were prepping for the storm, I realized I didn’t care about any of my possessions; I just wanted to keep my family safe. I only grabbed two things when evacuating: my camera and my Grandmother’s pearls. Everything else was just “stuff.”

ON FEELING WORRIED

I’ve learned how exhausting worrying can be. We all prepared, heeded the evacuations and thanked God the storm spared us and we were fine. Even if it had directly hit us, we were prepared, God would still be with us. It would be so much harder, but I truly believe that those who could, would take others in and we would all help each other make it through. I saw so many people offering to help those who may need it. Together as a community we will be okay, because we can come together and put aside our differences when needed.

ON WHAT WAS FEARED THE MOST

I’ll start with what I was most fearful of. For me, I was terrified of losing my childhood home. Not only for the fact that the four walls would not be there. But for the mere terrifying feeling of losing memories. Now that brings me to what I value most. I hold on to and cherish memories of my dad and me throughout the home. I walk into what became his room downstairs when he was sick, and I can see his face and twinkle in his eye, telling me how happy it makes him to see me, after I’ve come home from work. I see his smile and I cling to it. I look next to the TV console and I see him, myself, and my niece dancing to his favorite song. These memories are not only what I value, but I cling to. What am I most fearful of? Not remembering each moment by its landmark (so to speak) in the house.

ON KEEPING THE FAITH

What did Irma teach me? Irma reminded me once again about the love that Jesus Christ has for all of us. I was very nervous and stressed leading up to the storm… not knowing what to expect (I have never experienced a hurricane growing up and living in Indiana my whole life). My husband and I talked with our two girls all week about the storm. We cried, prayed, and planned what we could. We talked a lot about what was important to us … each other and God’s Love! Things are replaceable, but each other is not. It was scary saying goodbye Saturday evening to my family and going into work, but I knew we would all be safe through our prayer and faith in Jesus Christ… I told the girls when they got scared to say a prayer to Jesus and I would do the same!

ON BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER

The storm taught me how much the family and close friends in my life mean to me and how we’d do anything for each other… I realized though through this storm how amazing the people are around me in my neighborhood. We went from being a cordial block to a block of people I’d call close friends who I know we’d do anything for. And my realizing we don’t ever “need” a bigger house but to be surrounded by good people is priceless. We’re here for the long haul now 🙂

ON RETHINKING THE IMPORTANCE OF POSSESSIONS

This storm has taught me that we have too much stuff.
Stuff that I wouldn’t take with me if I had to evacuate.
Stuff that I had to pack up to secure in case of flood or wind.
Stuff that exhausted me before the storm to secure and after to unpack.
(Note: it’s not all going back.)
But most important: this storm taught me the value of good friends, family and neighbors.
That my nephew playing the guitar was incredibly soothing as the storm approached.
That board games create laughter that refreshes.
That planning for food (meals) and emergency supplies is important and vital.
That the ability to “camp” in your own house is helpful.

ON HOW TO HELP THOSE WHO ARE SUFFERING

In the two days that I have been home, I’ve been listening to others tell their stories. Listening seems to be the most important thing. People want to tell their stories. I have offered to let people stay at our house, or have showers, laundry and recharge devices. I will give away stockpiled items. I’ll volunteer. I’ll pray for others and their recovery processes. I’ll be thanking God and will be grateful. And I’m so grateful for family and friends who checked in with my husband and me on a daily basis.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

“Hurricane Oreos” depleted much more quickly than “Hurricane Baby Carrots.”  Restocking accordingly. – Allison Reed

AND FINALLY, A POEM

“BEING PRESENT IN A HURRICANE”
by Lee Leavengood

A devastating strong force of nature cannot be ignored
Battening down from the strong winds and heavy rains
Watching the bending and swaying of the palm trees from inside
Feeling the dangers of the unpredictable outside
Being aware of life threating possibilities
In the now of an uncontrollable freak of weather
Asking who am I?

Grace and peace,
Magrey DeVega
Senior Pastor
Hyde Park United Methodist


HOW YOU CAN HELP

We are so grateful for all the donations you brought in by last Monday. A box truck full of flood buckets, hygiene kits, and items you stockpiled for the storm were all delivered last Tuesday to people in need down in Southwest Florida. This is in addition to deliveries we made last week to flood-ravaged residents in nearby Lithia. We are continuing to receive donations, so please bring them to church, and we will deliver them as they come in. You can also make a financial contribution to the United Methodist Committee on Relief by making your check payable to the church and designating it for “Hurricane Relief.”

BISHOP’S TOWN HALL SUNDAY NIGHT

We are honored to host Bishop Carter this Sunday night at 6:30 p.m. in our Sanctuary. We will be welcoming United Methodists from all throughout Central Florida and the Gulf Coast. There will be opportunities for you to submit questions, and he will share with us his reflections on the Commission on a Way Forward, hurricane relief, the mission of the church, and much more.

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