Monday, February 2, 2009

I Parked Under a Tree

Do you believe in prayer?

I know that I do. I know that I've had several instances in my life where I personally witnessed the power of prayer.

One such incident occurred this past September while I was in Alexandria, Louisiana.

I was in Alexandria with the American Red Cross - I had driven the ERV (Emergency Response Vehicle) down from Kansas City in anticipation of Hurricane Gustav. I, along with several other volunteers from all over the country, had been getting food & supplies delivered to various shelters in the Alexandria area - before the storm hit.

On Monday, September 1, (Labor Day), the hurricane was due to hit. That morning, the skies had darkened, and the rain was increasing in intensity. Initial predictions had the hurricane hitting around 8:00 pm that night - so we were working frantically that morning, trying to get as much done before we had to hunker down and take cover. Unfortunately, the storm was coming in faster than anticipated - and this almost led to a major disaster for me.

It was 11:30 am - it's now raining, it's getting windy, and it's getting dark. We had been told that morning that we would work until 2:30 p.m. or so and would then be "released" to drive back to our shelter and hunker down. We were also told, that under NO circumstances were we to park our trucks under any trees. Makes sense - don't park vehicles under trees in a hurricane. Duh.

I returned from a run and parked my truck, waiting for further was only 11:30, and I knew I'd be working until 2:30, right? Wrong. I run into headquarters, only to be told that we needed to leave IMMEDIATELY and take shelter - NOW. No time to move our trucks - our trucks were to stay put at headquarters, and we were to jump in the rental cars and take cover. The storm was getting closer by the second.

Now - this presented a problem. Guess where I had parked the truck? Yup - under a tree. But it was only supposed to be parked there for a minute!! I parked it, thinking I would run in, get my next assignment, and then move it - how was I supposed to know it was now parked for the duration of the storm??!! And the driver of our rental car wasn't about to give me 2 minutes to go move it - he was anxious to make the 30-minute drive to our shelter so we could hunker down. He's yelling at me in the rain, "Let's go - NOW! Leave the truck!"

Yikes. I gave the truck one last look as I ran to the rental's parked under a HUGE tree. I said a prayer as I ran to the rental car - "Please, oh please God - please protect my truck....please, oh, please." Seriously - I would be in BIG trouble with the Red Cross if something happened to that truck.

A photo of my ERV

That entire night, during the height of the storm, I worried about that truck. I could hardly sleep, listening to the wind, the rain, and the trees falling around our shelter - because all I could think about was the truck...and that big giant tree...hovering over it, menacingly. What was I going to find in the morning? I was almost sick at the thought.

The next day, we got the all-clear from the authorities around noon that it was okay to get out on the roads. I hopped into the back seat of the rental car, and we made the 30-minute drive back to headquarters. I was still praying - over and over - for the safety of my truck.

We pull into headquarters - and I am so nervous, that I can't look. I cover my eyes - and I hear my co-workers in the car exclaim, "Oh MY GOD!" As we drive by my truck - I truck....and the tree....and the tree is down. Oh no. Oh NO! I also see a giant group of volunteers, surrounding my truck - staring at a most incredible sight. I jump out of the car, run up - and witness a miracle.

The tree had indeed fallen down - it had split into part of the tree fell in FRONT of my truck....and the other part of the tree fell BEHIND my truck. Not one branch....not one limb...heck, not even a leaf...has fallen on my truck. You've heard of Moses and the parting of the Red Sea? This was Sherri's ERV and the parting of the giant tree. Seriously.

As I walked up - the crowd parted...and someone noticed me, standing there in shock. And he said, "Isn't this your truck?" I mumbled, " is." And he said, shaking his head, "You must live one charmed life."

And I replied, "No...I just believe in the power of prayer."

I have no pictures of this. I would never want the big bosses with Red Cross to see just how close that tree was to my truck. I don't want to cause any heart attacks or anything. Sorry.

But - thanks, God. I DO believe in the power of prayer.


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