It's hard to describe last week. It feels like a month since last Monday. I was driving to Spruce Grove to visit my parents with the boys when the call came. "They're letting us in tomorrow." After 11 days of waiting, they were finally letting us go home.
When I arrived at our place on Monday evening it was surreal. At first glance the town looked fairly normal, but on closer inspection there was an almost eerie quality to the abandoned town. Businesses were dark, shop windows broken from the powerful flood, and a thick layer of mud was on every surface touched by the murky waters. Ready to greet me as I stepped out of my air conditioned vehicle was the smell of rot--musty, stinking, moldy homes and garbage. As the week went on, more residents were let back in and the sights and smells accumulated. Mounts of mud soaked belongings strewn across every lawn. There was a slight sense of embarrassment among the residents to have their personal belongings so exposed to the picture-taking tourists driving by. There was uncertainty in the air--everyone a little shaky and not sure where to begin or what to do next. And yet, everyone happy to be doing something because the waiting, without knowing, was excruciating.
At this point, Clint and I were blessed beyond measure by our church family and our own families. Crews organized by our good friend, Frank Evans, worked around the clock to serve us. The amount of blood, sweat and tears shed this week was enormous, but overshadowing it all was the love of God poured out through some amazing people.
This week wasn't without it's share of humorous moments. To mention a few, there was the time when I returned home from the laundromat to discover that one of the men working for us was directing traffic with a pitchfork in his hand. Another time, although I didn't witness this one, Hunter's rubber snake poked it's head out of the murky waters and I hear it made a few grown men jump.
One of the more poignant moments was when Clint loaded hundreds of his muddy library books into the loader to be dumped and noted various books that people had given him that had meant something to him. For me, I had twinges of regret seeing parts of our life battered and muddy--things that were familiar, things that were ours. But for the most part, we felt fairly free to throw away our stuff. At times it even felt cathartic.
So it has been a week of incredible labour, of gutting and cleaning our basement, yard and garages. A week of discovery and paper work and documenting. A week of cleaning pictures and laundry, of sorting and throwing things away. A week of cooking for work crews and replenishing respirators and rubber gloves. Many who couldn't work prayed for us and for this we are incredibly thankful as well. And above all it has been a week of love. God's love poured out on us through his people. And once again we feel blessed beyond what we thought or hoped for.
There is still a long road ahead, but we trust in a Sovereign God who cares intimately for us. And this, above all, gives us hope.