By: Nicci Arentsen
My mentor. My best friend. My family. My older sister, Cassidy, 19 years old and a huge heart for helping others, just started her second year at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Last month, when the tragic hurricane hit Houston and parts of Texas, it was devastating for our country. Most importantly for the people in the area, for all their losses, things they had to give up, and memories that faded away in the storm. Because of the fact that about 20% of the people who attend Baylor are from Houston, ,my sister knew many people, including two of her roommates, whose families, loved ones, or even their houses were tragically hit or were instructed to be evacuated.
Our home church here in Newport Beach was planning a trip to serve the people of Houston. In addition, our pastor wanted to join to help the other pastors in this city with guidance, hope, and our donations. My sister was fortunate to hear this news, “I learned about the option to go to Houston through my friend Hannah who's the daughter of our children’s pastor and through Mariners church. The opportunity just kind of fell in my lap and I decided to be intentional and say yes to it.” She called me when she found out the news that some of her leaders and people from our church we're gonna be in Houston. She had the heart and drive that she wanted to go out there and serve the people of Houston with her God loving ways. Yet, it was a super big weekend with family weekend at her college and multiple tests the next week. When she put things in perspective and talking it through with me she decided she would go for it and make the trip to Houston for the weekend!
With minds open and hearts ready to serve, they headed down to Houston early Saturday morning. “When we got to Houston we helped with sorting supplies in the supply warehouse where the church we partnered with had supplies ready to go and be delivered to the affected neighborhoods.” This was the beginning of their busy day, after meeting up with there serve team.
Cassy also explains to me the tasks they did at people’s houses who were extremely affected. She enjoyed meeting all the people who lived in these houses for they were so grateful for their help. “We also got to go out in the affected neighborhoods and help "muck out" houses. We helped tear out the drywall that had mold on it. It was more mold forming in these houses then I have ever seen in my life! Water sat in some of these house at 5ft tall for about five days. So the mold had time to grow and that's why all the drywall and wood floors needed to be ripped out, before the mold got too bad and ruined the whole house.” When they were ripping all the mold out they had to be wearing these safety masks around their whole faces to keep the breathing air healthy for them. My sister also explained something surprising to me, she said that it was one of the last few days that they could rip out all this mold from these neighbors houses before the houses were not saveable. This is because the mold could take over and be unsanitary and super hazardous to live in.
As she reminisces on her trip to Houston her heart sinks for the people’s courage in this town, “Looking around there was such a strong sense of community. The people of Houston really rallied around to help their neighbors; there were neighborhoods all together working on houses and many churches came together to really be the body of Christ and help out others in need.” Can you imagine your whole house in water up to your chest? There is nothing you can pack in a backpack or basement, because everywhere you go is wet. All your childhood pictures, important papers, supplies, and furniture are either soaked, ruined, or lost. My sister explains, “But there was also so much sorrow in how this was people's livelihood and all there stuff that was being destroyed. Memories in houses gone and them having to make decisions of what stuff to try to keep and what just wasn't worth it and they had to throw away.” I am proud to call my sister my best friend. I love her giving heart and her sacrifices she makes for others. The people of Houston in her home state, (for these four years only) needed her help and she went there was able to make an impact. It may have been small, but the people were grateful.
Editor's Noe: The people of Houston still need help rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey. If you'd like to donate,or know someone that would, you can go to https://ghcf.org/hurricane-relief/ to donate directly to the city's relief efforts.