The Harvey relief effort is going strong. We are committed to helping as many people as possible. As of today, we have cleaned out over 800 homes, completed rebuilding five homes from start to finish, and are currently rebuilding 31 homes. Every home rebuilt is a life restored. This month, faithful Lakewood member Connie Hillman stepped into her newly renovated home.
Connie has been a faithful Lakewood member and volunteer since 1996 and was preparing to leave on a Lakewood mission trip when the storm hit. She sought shelter at her granddaughter's home with her suitcase of clothes she'd packed for her Botswana Missions trip. Connie couldn't have expected the scene she would witness on the news. There in the quiet living room in the aftermath, she saw her street on TV. It was the first place reporters could reach. She watched in awe at the complete devastation as boats passed her neighbor's homes. Not knowing the condition of her own home and unable to make it back, she volunteered her time at Lakewood Church to help those in immediate need. As she poured into others, little did she know that the same compassion would be poured into her in the days and months to come.
Once she returned home, she faced complete ruin. Three feet of water had been in her home. Mold had set in, and all of her belongings went to the curb for disposal, including everything in her closet. In this dark moment, she was thrilled to see Lakewood teams arrive to help. Our teams removed the flood-damaged floors and walls so the rebuild process could begin.
Despite the situation, Connie was committed to serving in Botswana. Her shoes were ruined while inspecting her home, and she left on the trip without a single pair of shoes. Our Lakewood Mission's director gave her a pair of sandals off her own feet to hold her over until they could reach a market in Africa.
"It took a few days for me to get a pair of my own in Africa, which were too big. That's all I wore when I got back," recalls Connie.
Connie lives alone and works two jobs to make ends meet. With no flood insurance to help her recover, Lakewood was Connie's miracle. Over the course of the following months, we replaced her plumbing and electrical systems and installed brand new counter tops and flooring. We've dressed her bathroom with new tiles, and her kitchen has beautiful new cabinets and back splash. Our teams have painted her walls a fresh paint job that is color coordinated with new windows and blinds. Then her recovery story gets even sweeter.
Lakewood member Vanessa felt a stirring in her heart to buy brand new furniture for a home in need. She reached out to us, and we paired her with Connie. The two of them worked side by side and Vanessa helped make Connie's home look stunning with stylish furnishings that perfectly matched the new improvements. Connie has a brand new home fit for a showroom!
"God's love is powerful. I don't think I'll ever lose sight of God wanting the best for us. I was able to have a home that was rebuilt like brand new, not just pieced together. When I first opened the door and saw the devastation, I thought, "I can't do this by myself. God, You're going to have to help me." And now when I open the door, I say, "God, look what You did! I'm grateful in my time of need, my church came to my help with the love of Christ. Lakewood has blessed me in a way that only a church full of God's love can do. Thank God for my Lakewood family," said Connie.
Just like Vanessa, you too can personally help someone. If you want to donate and get connected with someone in need, simply reach out to [email protected] and we will can get you paired with someone who would appreciate it! Also, we have many upcoming Saturday service opportunities in May where you can help homeowners beautify their homes with landscaping. Reach out to [email protected] and we will give you more information.
The hurricane happened at the end of last summer, but we haven't forgotten about its footprint in our community. Its catastrophic damages still linger, and our teams are working full time to repair homes and lives. We've been blessed to give millions of dollars in aid, supplies and resources, and the work continues. We are committed to making the biggest impact possible in 2018. Stay tuned for more updates of hope after the storm.