Getting back to work in Midtown Manhattan meant asking everyone: “do you have power?” “you got electricity?” “you back on Twitter?” Seriously. The biggest problem now facing downtowners is whether our DVR picked up The Good Wife Sunday night.
The fact is, you have to live a disaster to know it. Joplin looked bad. Hurricane Sandy felt bad.
Feeling bad, suffering, facing affliction is usually God’s kick in the tuches to do something. So we did.
Someone once said that it takes a village. Actually, it takes an Army, The Salvation Army.
Today, Majors Sue & Scott Kelly & Lieutenant Zuheil Barton welcomed us to their set up on Staten Island to unload food, sort out hats, gloves, batteries, diapers, and then distribute these needed items to Hurricane Sandy victims across Staten Island.
National Advisory Board member Laura Bush was represented via her 2 daughters (Jenn & Barbara) along with 30 of their friends who sweated it out with us in the midst of the chaos the hurricane has left. Just 4 blocks away stands a giant heap of trash – everyone’s homes literally gutted.
As we made our way on the bus to the site, we looked out among a sea of lostness, trash, and desolation – and saw the shield.
A shield that’s red, says The Salvation Army, and has been on Staten Island since before the storm. A shield that isn’t going anywhere because it’s inconvenient or costly or difficult. A shield that’s here to stay.
That shield sits prominently on a tent at 609 Midland Avenue (the owner of the Judo / Wrestling business, Richard, has graciously let The Salvation Army camp out there). He also let us use his toilet. Which has no door. Good thing I’ve been on a few mission trips to Tanzania…
Staten Island feels like a third world country. A Russian woman came up to The Salvation Army truck for some hot cocoa & cat food, a family came for bottles of orange Gatorade donated by the cancelled marathon. A 2 year old jumped around in a mini van as her mom piled up diapers and blankets and a 70 year old man made his way over to the tent for coffee & prayer – he lost his daughter in the storm. People are grieving. Not just over the loss of their homes plagued by 9 feet of water, but over the loss of human life, the loss of “normal.”
Lieutenant Zuheil Barton (5 months pregnant) has exhaustion written all over her face but matter of factly assured me, “Marcia, we’ll be here to the very end. It’s our ministry.”
That’s the thing. When it gets super cold and super costly and super tiring, people will move on to the next cause, the next tragedy, the next new thing. But the shield isn’t going anywhere. Because the shield of faith has a bigger message than the supplies Jenna & Barbara distributed to Staten Island homes today – the message of hope. The message that God is here, His presence will never leave, His sustaining hand will support the Staten Island communities and volunteers over the months and years of recovery.
We can rest in that shield. Because in the words of Salvation Army soldier Brittany -“we aren’t going anywhere.”