The Hands and Feet of Jesus
Gracewood moms Christel and Milinda went to bed on the rainy evening of Memorial Day and woke in the middle of the night to find their personal belongings floating in a few inches of water on the floor. They knew that Gracewood’s Wanda Lane campus was flooding.
Those few inches quickly rose to a waist-high depth of raging floodwaters that came pouring through doors and outlets. “We were advised to try to relocate to the main house, but the water was moving too fast to be able to move safely,” said Milinda. Despite the efforts of rescue crews, they remained trapped inside.
That night Christel and Milinda – along with their young children – spent seven hours perched on countertops and tables before the floodwaters subsided enough for them to climb down. As they walked outside, reality began to set in. They saw a parking lot full of flooded cars and began to realize that nearly everything they owned had been destroyed. “I was heartbroken when I saw my car because I was only one year away from having it paid off,” said Milinda. “Of course, we all knew that Gracewood was not our forever home, but no one wanted to leave like this.”
As others looked on, Christel hugged her son, Bryant and daughter, Kynnadi, tightly. Milinda pulled her daughter, Elena, in close. Both of these moms knew that the situation could have been much, much worse.
After posting a brief call for help, Gracewood was inundated with donors and community partners who were ready to lend a helping hand. “We were completely overwhelmed with the response and generosity we received on behalf of our moms,” said Debbie Rippstein, Executive Director of Gracewood. “As we dealt with the destruction and aftermath from the flooding on our Wanda Lane campus, it was such a relief to know that our moms were well cared for.”
Soon, Christel and Milinda – along with the other families that were affected by the flooding at the Wanda Lane campus – were transported from a hotel to Gracewood’s Spring Branch campus. When the floods hit, Milinda had just started a new job as a nurse and Christel was only two semesters away from becoming a Certified Respiratory Therapist. In the craziness and chaos of the days that followed, Elena missed her preschool graduation and her fifth birthday party, and Bryant and Kynnadi missed their last few days of school.
But thanks to the generosity of donors and community partners, the Gracewood moms didn’t lose their footing in the midst of this crisis. Milinda only missed one day of work and received financial help with adown payment on a new car to replace the old one. Christel was able to jump right back into classes and continue her studies without worrying about how her family would recover. “In many ways, it was good that we didn’t have much time to process what was happening,” she said. “It forced us to move forward without dwelling on what we lost.”
“It’s been a good opportunity to teach our children that it’s just stuff,” said Christel. “We are healthy and safe and, thankfully, never went without a roof over our heads – even for a night.” Bryant, Kynnadi and Elena lost most of their toys and personal belongings, but were overwhelmed by the generosity of the community. They were amazed to see so many men and women come to the aid of their families, providing everything they needed from clothes to computers … and even new toys!
Countless other donors gave gift cards and monetary donations that helped replace appliances and household items. “It has been beautiful to see the body of Christ come together once again to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus to our moms,” said Debbie. “God has been faithful once again in his perfect provision for our ministry.”