Where I Left My Heart

Happy Saturday friends! Today I post my final blog about Hurricane Maria. What a journey it has been, but we have never been more sure of God’s faithfulness and love. I pray that God has used this to help encourage you in your life.

If you missed the first 4 posts here they are:
Hello, Hurricane
In The Middle Of The Storm
After The Storm
And On The Third Day

And so begins the most uncertain time of our stay in Puerto Rico, tearful goodbyes, and the truth of His undeservered grace and love.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided.
Exodus 14:21

I bet when Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt things seemed pretty uncertain. I mean, the Red Sea was in front of them. Yet where God leads, He provides and He parts the waters so you can walk right through them.

We have been through pretty uncertain time in our lives, but I am pretty sure September 23-September 25th takes the cake for the most uncertain 3 days in our lives. It was Saturday, September 23rd. The storm was 3 days prior. We were supposed to fly out on Sunday to go back home, but we didn’t know if or when the airport that we were supposed to fly out of was going to be open or not.

Promise and Truth:
When you go through deep waters,

    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
Isaiah 43:2

Catherine suggested going to the police station to ask them what information they had about flights, so her and Anne took us that morning to see what information we could find. At first we were told that all of the airports were closed. But then we find out that although the airport we were supposed to fly out of was closed due to the power plant being destroyed, San Juan had opened that morning and was flying minimal flights out.

So right then and there it was decided that we were going to San Juan. Anne decided to come with us to try to get back to New York as well since we had a rental car. This ended up being a bundle of blessings because she knew how to get to San Juan and we didn’t (remember no GPS).

The lady who helped us asked us to message her daughter to let her know she was okay when we got cell service. She was teary eyed when we said You have our word we will call you daughter for you. That was one of about 4 messages that Mike took to communicate.

Promise and Truth:
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Romans 8:28

So we went back to the house to pack up, have a final meal with Andreas, pick up Anne, and say goodbyes to Catherine. We gave our hugs to Catherine, and I will never forget the look in her eyes as we pulled out. Never. This is where I left a portion of my heart. This woman who had stage 4 cancer had tears in her eyes. How could we leave her? She had just lost her husband a few months prior to the same disease, and now the storm. I wanted Mike to turn the car around and leave me there.  I would have gotten home eventually. Tears threatened to pour down, but I knew if I let them come they would not stop. I had to continue to trust that if God had taken care of us, He would take care of her. Andreas lives across the street too and would check in on her as he had been already.

Promise and Truth:
The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.

Exodus 14:14

So much was uncertain. When would we be able to fly out? Was the airport actually open? When would we be able to get a flight? If we couldn’t get a flight where would we stay? But God had been faithful so far, we knew that He would continue to lead us home.

One of my friends said before we lost cell service that she was “praying us home”, and surely, He was with us every step of the way home.

On the way to San Juan we continued to see devastation and loss. At first, it was gas stations out of gas for miles and miles. Houses that had lost roofs. Entire halfs of houses missing. Mudslides. Then when we got about an hour out of town we started to see gas stations that had gas, and hundreds of people lined up in hopes to buy it for their generators. I am going to guess that many of those people left the station that day without any gas.

We ended up getting to San Juan faster than anticipated only to drop off the rental car and arrive at the airport that was being closed. Now what? We asked around if anyone knew of any hotels in the area that had rooms, and word was that they were all booked. And that is what we found to be true.

What are you so afraid of?

The story of God’s faithfulness though continues on, and I will do my best to share the highlights because He took care of so many tiny details that I could write a book! The story is long and confusing but I will try to do my best to simplify it as best as possible without minimizing the fact that God was in all the details, even the details I won’t mention.

We found a taxi driver who ended driving us around for about an hour looking for a place to stay. Everything was booked, but finally, we found a hotel that was fully booked but allowed Anne to book a room for the night since she was a flight attendant. This hotel had cell service, internet, and air conditioning. We were able to call family and a friend to let them know that we were okay. We began to settle into our room and continued to talk with the family who let us know that they had booked us a flight for September 30th. That lead us to more uncertainty about what we should do. Would we be able to stay in San Juan for 7 days when all hotels were booked? Do we try to go back to the other side of the island? Would we have enough cash to get us through the week? The answer was no.

However, we put those worries aside though when Anne came to the room to let us know that some random guy had given her a room that he didn’t need for the night. So, we had our own room. Then we all ended up going down to the hotel’s restaurant to relax for a bit, and my dad called me to tell me that JetBlue had opened up a flight on Monday that he had booked us on. Now our last concern was where we were going to stay for Sunday night.

Promise and Truth:
Perfect love casts out all fear
1 John 4:18

We enjoyed a nice night’s stay at the hotel, and in the morning Anne was heading to the airport to try to get a flight out. She was offered a ride with the guys who offered her their extra hotel room, and since they were hoping to get a standby flight Anne asked them how long they had the room for. Thankfully they had the room for another couple of nights so they said as long as they got on the flight, we were able to use the room.

We said a tearful goodbye to Anne, and as we walked back to the room, I continued to shed tears out of God’s undeserved love and care for us. This was not the first time that I had cried over the overwhelming sense I had of His presence that week. He had taken care of us every step of the way, even down to allowing me to have relief from my increasing leg pain that I was experiencing. Surely He works for the good of those who love Him, and perfect love casts out all fear. His love is perfect.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Your life may seem like a Category 5 hurricane right now named Maria. But if He was with us everything step of the way leading us home, He is with you as well every step of the way leading you home. I saw a lot of heartbreak, a lot of devastation, but there is something that has been consuming my thoughts since I have been home. The massive storm was small compared to the immensity of His faithfulness and love.

When I think about our time in Puerto Rico I can’t help but be overcome with the emotion of God’s faithfulness. This is a time that we will always look back on in gratitude because we have seen the beauty in the brokenness, we have experienced that His perfect love drives out fear, and we have seen that He is good.

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