Monday, November 20, 2017

QOC Day Four November 10

We started our last day of the trip with lots of young child and infant quilts to distribute. The other team members had put in the groundwork of calling and arranging delivery to preschools and daycare centers in the region on Thursday, so Dennis and I loaded the van full of carefully bagged and counted quilts for delivery to Orange (on the Louisiana line), Nederland, and Beaumont. Janice and Cindy loaded their vehicle to head north and west. Our first stop was at Community Christian School preschool, where the 82 children were in chapel, and waiting for us to hand-deliver quilts to them. I felt a little bit like Oprah this week..."You can have a quilt, you can have a quilt, and you can have a quilt! EVERYBODY gets a quilt!" But Grams and Grampy have no fear of preschool children, so we waded right into the thick of them, opening bags and handing them quilts as appropriate for their gender. One little boy said, "Can I have a dinosaur quilt?" I said YES YOU CAN, then said a quick prayer that I'd find a dinosaur quilt in the bags. You quilters did not disappoint! Plenty of dinosaurs to go around for the little pack of boys that requested them after that. 

After all the sweet little ones had a quilt of their own, we were given a tour of the school by the preschool administrator. Esther informed us that the K12 school had been relocated to a furniture warehouse across town (owned by one of the granddaddies) while reconstruction takes place this year. The preschool had been prioritized, because licensing issues require certain facilities for young children. So while she and her 82 students are back where they belong, all of the older siblings are still displaced.

School kitchen

Teachers' classroom materials! They are coping without many items while relocated.

Esther Seaman with Dennis and me
Suddenly, it was pretty clear where those two hundred elementary quilts belonged! Esther called her counterpart at the K12 school, who was grateful that we could come. We contacted Janice and Cindy, who were available to go get the quilts in Winnie, and meet us in Orange at the K12 CCS in the afternoon. We continued on to deliver the other preschool quilts we'd prepared, visiting three centers in Nederland and Beaumont, before grabbing a quick sandwich, and heading back to Orange.

CCS meets in a furniture warehouse-turned-temporary school. Classes are meeting in the old showroom areas, and there are still upholstery samples on the wall. The Friday we were there was homecoming, so the kids were dressed in their "spirit" gear, and were super excited about the Powder Puff Football game they had that evening. You see, the flood canceled their regular football game...but they have a can-do spirit in Texas. Lots of flexibility.

Unlike the quick assembly we had at Lincoln Middle School, the children were able to come to an area where all of our remaining quilts were set up for them to peruse, and they got to choose a quilt to take. We started with the kindergarten, and went up each grade. Our concern was that the quilts left were too "young" for some of the older kids, but you know what? Once again our human expectations were just wrong. By the time we got to 11th grade, most of the kids were choosing for a neighbor's child, or a niece or nephew. They all "knew a kid" that needed a quilt. It was precious. Faculty had plenty to choose from for their own children, or grandchildren. A few were taken for "mom with dementia" or "grandmother in a nursing home."

Before we even left for the day, kids in the after school program were using their quilts as playmats and comfort. Like LMS, kids left with their quilts wrapped around them or clutched to their chest.

 Then our last stop of the day was in a daycare facility where most kids had lost everything. The highlight of that visit was a young child standing next to his dad while dad told us their rescue story. The child interrupted to exclaim, "I got to ride in a boat!" What a hoot, viewing the adventure of a flood from the eyes of a young child. Dad said that the kid keeps asking when there will be another flood...NOT SOON, we all pray.

Our TEAM ended the day with a nice Texas steak and potato dinner, and the sad realization that we wouldn't see each other again for a while. Dennis and I had served with Janice and Cindy last in Columbia, SC in January 2016, and it's completely believable that it could be nearly two years before we see them again. So, hugs, tears, and a lot of gratitude for social media, phones and texting!

We gave away every single quilt of the 3,000 quilts donated by quilters from all fifty states, plus Canada, Sweden and Germany. Eight people, four days, 3,000 quilts. When we signed up to go on this trip (and thought there would only be 1,500 quilts--ONLY! HA!), Dennis was concerned with the math of that equation. He was talking hours in a day (short days, it gets dark early), number of quilts we can fit in our van, how long it takes to meet a family and hear their story...the math just didn't add up. But as we talked over the meal on that last night, we were all reminded the unknown in our math equation that we were calculating was GOD. He proves over and over that He has a good plan, and it's much better than ours. I was repeatedly faithless all week, fretting over how far apart destinations were, how little time we were allowing, what the "plan" was...He was Faithful. Forgiving.

A final takeaway from our last day--we could have delivered 10,000 quilts. 50,000 quilts. FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND homes were affected by the flooding from Hurricane Harvey. That's as many as 2,000,000 people, or more. Plus schools, businesses...everywhere we looked, people are driving cars with temporary tags. Texas needs all the love, prayers and help you can send. Consider how you are called to Bring Hope and Encouragement to the Hurting.

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