looking at a postHurricane Christmas (part 1)

I am tired of feeling it.  I am tired of thinking about it.  I am tired of talking about it. The double hurricane strike in September 2017 was monumental and I am tired of postHurricane living. (If you have missed any of that, touch a link in this sentence and you will go to an article or website with more info.)

So if you want to know, How are you doing, Betsy?  my response is “I am tired.”

I am also amazed and elated and buoyed up and praising our awesome God for SO MANY blessings that have always been present but NOW seem so much MORE PRESENT!  The JOY of the LORD is surely my STRENGTH.

Psalm 46 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

This psalm has new meaning, having lived through earth being moved and erosion taking away parts of hillsides and houses, having heard the creek become a roaring river and rising to our backyard, seeing pictures of mountain mudslides and being unable to get away from the school because of flood waters. This psalm has new meaning for me.

We’ve had 107 days (as of today) of generator(s) running our school kitchen. 65 days have been on a FEMA generator which receives maintenance and diesel through the FEMA program. GOD knows so much. I lamented to Him many times that 40 days was a Biblical number (after Hugo in 1989 and after Georges in 1998 we were without electricity for 40 and 42 days respectively) and I knew I could handle that number of days… and WOW my VERY PRESENT God responded with a miracle!

When mail was not coming through and there was NO telephone in landline or cell form and PRAYER was the only way to communicate and God was the ONLY ONE LISTENING, His peace held us and His joy revealed itself as we worked in the day time and played games by generator light in the evenings and slept in the heat.  I made myself a rain protection shelter by my outdoor hammock so I could have more of the coolness of the night air touching me.

daily doses of parcels and dogs helped us along the way

Finally, two weeks after the second hurricane, letters and parcels started to come through. Rather like the dove with the olive branch, we saw that God had not forgotten.  God knew exactly where we were and what was needed for each day.

God’s people reached out in unexpected and always tremendous form. We have received at the most 10 boxes in one day.  Every box, every item has been USED (except the microwave popcorn… we’re holding onto that for a celebration when electricity is restored) – our pantry is pleasantly filled and we have passed along surplus supplies to the school families, to their neighbors, to relief workers going into other areas of the island, to friends in need of a flashlight or candle or cans of food.  God has allowed us to be generous because YOU have been so generous.

star students and star origami made our Christmas season brighter

Student families have left the island.  (again, links will take you to news articles about that) We are down to TWO students – both of whom are Deaf+ another educationally significant challenge (learning challenges and linguistic delays and language deprivation for example). Tess, our social worker, has left the school as she moves into another field of work – sad to see her go but so glad she is following God’s path for her life and career.  Valie our most reliable local volunteer, Jose and others have pledged their help, and our snow-bird from Canada, Philip will be returning in January.  Again, we see that GOD PROVIDES. My VERY PRESENT HELP!

I praise GOD for all of the challenges He has brought (or allowed) and the resources that allow me to now focus on these two students and the planning for expanding services to include adult literacy education for those who have been asking for years. I praise Him in advance for the new workers He will bring in (I have been in contact with two and seek God’s will for them) and the new vision He has given some of our board members as they have walked much of this semester more closely with me than any previous semester.

So while I am tired from postHurricane stresses:

  • stores are beginning to recover products to their shelves but enough shelf space remains empty that we are aware of delays and damage to the system
  • two local malls are closed due to damage so there are things like new shoes and my favorite stuffed pizza that we are doing without for now
  • my favorite Sam’s Club is no longer so the drive to that is further and in the city (boooo) and the traffic
  • traffic lights are interesting – some point in an alternate direction, many don’t work yet, police still inhabit some intersections as traffic cops, left turns are almost suicidal so I tend to make three rights and pray that I can get to where I want to be
  • trees still fall into the road way creating new hazards as they decay
  • car horns and brake slamming screeches are consistent at the school as a bundle of wires precariously dangles from the pole on the east side of the driveway across the street to the top of the pole that used to be on the west side of the driveway
  • truck horns constantly call someone to open the gate for the fuel delivery of the day
  • sweat is so much more apparent without fans and without cold drinks to help
  • relocating my classroom to a place on the big generator…not remembering WHERE things are NOW and reorganizing every time I have to take things out of the chapel/classroom so we can have another activity in that space
  • drinking warm drinks is ok; someone brought a bag of ice and I hugged it… way to long… very inappropriate but it felt SO GOOD
  • the beach looks sad but is beginning to repair itself as sand comes back up in waves and debris subsides
  • some favorite restaurants are closed due to damages

but with all of that, we are SO BLESSED. We did not lose much. Others lost everything. We did not lose hope or faith. Others lost lives. Which leads me to ponder, am I doing all that God has for me to DO? Am I being the witness and offering His hope to those I meet, to those in need?

We need to reach out.  Jesus Christ became a person with flesh and a name so that He could reach out to the hopeless and helpless and weak and sinful. Our job as believers is to follow in His steps, to walk with the people around us and to shine His light into lives. To be His love, His hands, His smile to all that we meet. And in the end, to rest knowing that we have loved mercy, acted justly and walked humbly with our planet’s co-inhabitants and with our God.

thanks for stopping in to read. Happy HOLYdays to you, my reader.



  1. God bless you Betsy and the works that you do! To read your words brings me hope…hope that with faith and determination we can get through anything. Here we complain about every little thing. More people should read your words and see what real gratitude is. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I will continue to pray for you and your students and friends. Merry Christmas 🎄

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