We all need hope filled stories to continue our enthusiasm for living as disciples in Christ. I have one hope filled story to share with you about a woman named Pat whose story I’ve shared with each of you before. We had another encounter with Pat, and I want to make sure our St. Ann’s community knows about this important and inspiring encounter!
So to recap, Pat is a retired NY detective whose house was destroyed after Hurricane Sandy. After a levy gave way and flooded her house, Pat’s husband passed away AND her daughter also passed suddenly due to cancer. In the middle of the chaos, Pat took the $100,000 the government paid her to rebuild, and paid a contractor to rebuild her home. During the most vulnerable time in her life, the contractor built a foundation (costing around $10,000) and walked away with the rest of the $90,000. Pat was left with no money, and only a foundation. During our last year April 2016 mission to NJ, we had the blessing of working on Pat’s home. We painted several rooms in her home, installed laminate wood floors and even tiled her kitchen (not one of my favorite jobs). Regardless, the work was worth it, especially when we got to meet Pat on a house visit during the week. She was so moved by our enthusiasm and passion to serve, that she visited us every day, each day giving us a different treat. One day was cookies, and the next she came by just to share a smile and a laugh. On the last day, Pat surprised our whole group by buying lunch: pizza and soda for over 20 people! We remembered Pat after our last April trip, and heard her house was completed in October 2016. The St. Ann’s missionaries came up with the idea of sending her a congratulations card, with a group photo that included Pat. She wrote back with a nice card hoping to see us again in the near future… well, let’s fast forward to two weeks ago…..
My goal over this entire week was to visit Pat, and we tried everything. We contacted the site supervisor we worked with, the volunteer coordinator, and even the director who contacted Pat personally. I will spare all of the details, but basically we tried very hard for months to try to set up an encounter with Pat, to no avail until…..
Our very last day in NJ, we somehow remembered Pat’s home address, so we visited her house and knocked on her door. Her daughter answered, and explained to us that Pat was currently not in her home. We were puzzled and asked why: It turns out, that Pat had just had open heart surgery three days prior to our visit! We had no idea, and asked the daughter to send our good wishes to her and her recovery. At that point, she told us she is living with her daughter, who lives in the next town over. So, our group then drove to Pat’s daughter’s home, a beautiful home, to see if we could just say hello to an old friend.
We knocked on the door, and the daughter answered. She had heard about our group from Massachusetts, and invited us in just like family. Pat was sitting in the living room and was very joyful to see our group! She was very surprised, and was recovering well. She even gave us permission to take a group picture! We stayed and learned more about Pat’s extended family, including her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. We later said our goodbyes, and walked away amazed at how all of this unfolded.
If that’s not Jesus, I don’t know what is!
A hope filled story, and how every little encounter you have even with strangers, can go a long way!
Surely, the presence of Jesus was with us.