Pastor's Perspective

Last month, I found this article in the ELCA magazine “Lifelines.” It reminds me how we as a church are making a difference in El Salvador, in the Virgin Islands, and throughout the world. It reminds me that our church’s slogan, “God’s Work, Our Hands” is not just words.

Peace to you,                                     —Pastor Tom


Just Keep Trusting the Lord

Inez Walker worked as a cook for Queen Louise Home for Children, a Lutheran Social Services of the Virgin Islands (LSSVI) children’s home, for more than 40 years.

Last summer Inez, now 84, had left St. Croix with her daughter, Lorraine, to seek medical care in Florida.

“I’m glad we got here when we did,” Lorraine said. Hurricane Maria, one of the strongest storms in recent history, came shortly after Inez reached Florida.

“It destroyed everything,” Lorraine says.

When the hurricane his, Inez had just finished renovating her home with new carpeting and furniture. The storm blew off portions of the roof, dumping water all through the house and destroying most of her belongings. She had been in her home for almost 50 year.

While the Walker’s family memories remain, Inez hasn’t been able to return home. Their house is one of many in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico that was damaged by the hurricanes. The home had an estimated $91,000 in damage. While Inez was offered a loan for a portion of that, she can’t afford the payments and insurance on her fixed income.

Tarps as temporary roofing can prevent further damage to homes, but tarps are hard to come by on the island, and continuing rains are adding to the damage already done.

“Ever since the storm, my brother Joseph has been busy trying to do whatever he can to secure tarps,” Lorraine says. “It’s very hard for him, but Mom is confident. One thing she keeps telling us in, ‘Just keep trusting in the Lord.’”

Lutheran Disaster Response, through local partner LSSVI, is helping people like Inez get back into their home. Earlier this year, Lutheran Disaster Response approved a grant for $1.16 million to support a three-year volunteer rebuild and repair program for St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Through the work with LSSVI, Lutheran Disaster Response will accompany Inez and other survivors as they create and implement their recovery plans. This could include leveraging volunteer hours through a volunteer program to help rebuild her home or connecting her to resources for other unmet needs.

The road ahead is long for survivors of hurricanes and other disasters, but thanks to your gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response, this church can accompany them and provide practical support and refreshed hope.