… convoy of love

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
Genesis 50:20

You may remember after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston my children were deeply touched by several stories that involved a child with special needs and the heroic efforts to evacuate 14 premature babies from a NICU.  Because of their own experiences with Elizabeth “Operation:Waterdrop” was launched to help in the relief efforts.  With the help of the blog and social media word traveled fast and the response from our amazing community was almost overwhelming!  Water was being delivered by the truckloads and the desire to help Caroline and Alex fulfill their mission was in full swing!  With each case of water that was dropped off someone would ask if we were taking other donations?  Well …. I had not really thought about it but I always said YES!  My garage became a make shift warehouse for water, boxes of clothes, bags of canned goods and oh my goodness …. DIAPERS!!  The boxes and boxes of diapers that lined the walls of my garage were more than enough to keep babies dry for months to come!!   I was running out of room but couldn’t turn anyone away.  This community has been providing for Elizabeth for 14 years now; how could I not pay that forward?

Meet Wendy and Linzy ….

This mother/daughter duo have become true friends of Elizabeth and mine in a very short period of time.  We “knew” each other through the girls but didn’t really “know” one another.  Wendy reached out after reading the blog asking if she could help.  I knew she understood this life better than anyone else I know.  She understood why it was so important for us to give back.  And before I knew it she and Linzy were collecting water and donations in the River Valley working with many schools, churches and local businesses while the Foresters concentrated on our little corner up here in NWA.  As the items gathered in our homes and garages we began to wonder how in the world we were going to get all of this to Texas!

The plan was to collect a dozen cases of water and pass them out in a shelter and come home back to our lives.  This right here is where I was reminded life is never how we plan!  We were put in touch with people in Houston and the Crossroads that would help us with what soon became Convoy of Love.

In the wake of disaster I have learned a very valuable lesson.  It’s a lesson I have learned the hard way more times than I care to count and with each teaching I promise myself to never allow it to happen again.  I often wonder how people who choose to live a life of such mean spiritedness can look at themselves in the mirror each day.  We are all guilty of wrongdoing to ourselves, to others … sometimes without the intention of doing so but when you hurt others for your own selfish gain it truly hurts those who genuinely want to do good in this world that is collapsing around us because we have lost sight of what we were founded on; goodness, kindness. true love for your neighbor.  Having grown up in a Christian home and raised by truly the Godliest woman I know I remember when things would go wrong my mom would say … satan is at work here.

The puzzled look on my face would give her permission to use my troubles for a Bible lesson!  And while I can’t confirm it, I’m sure I had a few eye rolls and larger than life deep breaths that only encouraged her to preach on!!  Forty years later, she was right.  (But please don’t tell her I said that!!)  Now I’m not going to throw the Bible at you but I am going to say that when people gather together to do good for others Satan will throw every obstacle at you to hinder your efforts.  And let me tell you, that he has done. I consider myself one that can figure out a way even when I am told there is nothing more I can do.  I have been doing it with Elizabeth for years.  A doctor will tell me no, I ask if I can try and if he still says no I usually do it anyway.  When I was in high school I played basketball.  I was good, but not great.  My upper body strength allowed me to throw the ball far and my lower body allowed me to position myself under the goal.  Not all games are won by how many baskets you make, but sometimes by how many you block or rebound.  I was standing at the 3 point line when I was thrown the ball.  I was wide open as no one expected to me to be playing up top.  I heard from the stands, shoot it, shoot the ball, Pam.  I wasn’t a shooter and I screamed out “I can’t” but threw that ball towards the basket and as it sailed through the air and landed touching nothing but net it was the last time I ever said I can’t.  So as the plans we had made for our convoy began to crumble at our feet I really began to wonder if this was going to be the time I was going to have to throw up my hands and say there is nothing more I can do here.  It wasn’t safe for Elizabeth and Linzy to travel to Houston or the Crossroads.  There is a great deal of mold, unstable construction and questionable lodging that they just simply cannot medically be subjected to.  Okay, so we will find a truck, a driver and have it delivered … done, right up until Satan threw that obstacle at us and I once again had lost my faith in mankind.  There is a quote from CNN’s Chris Cuomo that I have found to be very true during this time we have tried very hard to pay it forward and give back.

…. but there’s no question that crisis brings out true character. Good people do good things, bad people do bad things.

I believe God puts us right where we need to be, when we need to be there.  And last week that turned out to be at Bonefish.  Yes, you read that correctly, Bonefish.  I had been invited to a networking luncheon where at the last minute before adjourning I heard a voice say that they were taking Hurricane Harvey donations …. whatever she said after that I didn’t hear.  I turned around quickly in my seat to try and find the person that came with the voice and the quickest way to get to her!  There in front of me stood Larra Donaldson.  We had never met and as I began to tell her about Operation:Waterdrop and the many obstacles we had been met with she said without hesitation that they would come to the house, pick up all our items and deliver them for us.  She assured me they would take pictures along the way, give credit where due and not to worry about a thing.  I was speechless standing in front of her.  I wanted to believe her, wanted to trust that everything she said would happen.

Well, my friends …. this happened this morning!!

Joe and Larra Donaldson, good people who do good things.  Graced with a servants heart, this power couple truly care about our community, understand giving back and helping others to pay it forward.  And so the Convoy of Love will move forward, despite the obstacles!  The Forester and McHenry families would like to thank everyone who helped Elizabeth and Linzy along with their siblings give back to a community and continue to support the pay it forward way of life.

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