So far I keep hearing good reports from family and friends in Florida impacted by Hurricane Irma. By the time it hit the Tampa Bay area its strength was greatly diminished. I am thankful. But since our good fortune may have come at the expense of our fellow Floridians bearing the brunt of the hurricane's path there is no celebration, but rather a love, appreciation, and readiness to help those who unexpectedly buffered us from greater loss. To my fellow safe Floridians, some of the time, energy, effort, and resources that would have gone into our own personal clean up and rebuilding could be considered as possible opportunities to help and bless those not as fortunate.
For us personally and as a ministry, we spent several days of focus and hard work preparing for the worst, especially the last 36 hours before evacuating. Boarding windows, safe guarding our equipment, preserving our history, insuring the ministry's future to the best humanly possible, taking care of ourselves, taking care of our pets, stocking food and water for weeks without power, creating several different plans for different paths of the hurricane, and the list goes on. In short, we were being good and wise stewards with what has been entrusted to us, including our own lives. And Laurie was a rock star all week. She did AWESOME with the challenge at hand. We didn't allow hysteria or panic or outside pressures affect our mission or timeline. We collected current and changing information and made fluid & wise decisions. We journeyed on as good soldiers to protect and preserve our own lives as well as that which was entrusted to our care. I'm so pleased with our efforts, our decision making, and our executed plan. It was tiring and exhausting, but it was worth it. And, as hoped and prayed for, it appears that the possible disaster never materialized. For some, they may conclude it as wasted time, energy, and resources. But as an adventure guide it's the only way to approach any challenge. Every backpacking trip we bring something we call "The Brick". It's a 5 lbs sack of survival gear and first aid. In backpacking terms, 5 lbs of anything is way too much weight to bring. Our hope is that we never have to use it. But we bring it every time for that one rare instance when it literally will save lives. Just because it wasn't needed on one backpacking trip and the weight of it added to the burden of your hike doesn't mean that you discard it on the next hike just like you don't stop wearing your seatbelt this time because you weren't in an accident last time. Disasters are unpredictable and unscheduled. Our adventures constantly require us to put in safety measures and back-up safety measures and back-up to the back-up safety measures. Our hope is that all the time, energy, and effort that goes into our safe guards is never actually needed. But that one rare instance that it is needed demands that the effort is made in every instance. Plus the security and peace of mind that it gives is priceless. So our hurricane preparation ended up being a "Hurricane Drill" and never really used... was it a waste of time?? Absolutely not!! I learned so much. My muscles were worked out. I got to strategize and use critical decision making skills. I got to contend against mother nature. My wisdom grew. My time with God was extended. My trust and faith was tested to see how it handled new stresses and pressure... and I passed with flying colors... I had no fear, no panic, no hysteria. I didn't cave to outside pressures to leave sooner nor outside pressures to do nothing at all. I was in tune with God and following the leading of the Holy Spirit and wisdom from His Word. I did what men were created to do- abide in Christ, work hard, please God, and care for the people, animals, and things God has placed in our care. My conscious is so good. My mind expanded. My muscles utilized. My priorities crystallized. I could go on and on. Although the preparation wasn't utilized, it was definitely no waste of time. And I will do it all again (and even bigger & better) next time!
(Special thanks to Kevin & Ashley Starner for lovingly opening their home to 5 people and 8 animals! They are the hands and feet of Christ! And our love and thanks to everyone who reached out to us and prayed for us over the past week... We feel the love!)