After working the majority of the day gutting a home, I was tired. My face was dripping in sweat. My eyes were irritated with the sawdust that had blown in them. My arms were covered in drywall dust and dirt. My nostrils were still filled and burning with the smell of a fridge dripping 2 week old floodwater. My back was hurting from hauling things out to the curb. It was hot. I was hungry. And I had to pee.
Cue job site #2 for the day.
In the morning when I recieved her name and number from our site coordinator, I was told Delores needed help moving her washer and dryer into storage because she wanted to save them. Even after being told they wouldn't work and shouldn't take up space in her storage, she wanted to keep them anyway. I immediately pictured this stubborn old lady who wasn't in touch with reality. Someone who couldn't face the truth about her situation.
When I called this lady on the phone, to confirm she would be home, she informed me that yes she had a washer and dryer, but also a stove, microwave, AND A FRIDGE that she wanted moved. My heart sank. "AHHHHH!! Boo! I am SO DONE with nasty fridge juices for the day! Please God don't make me do this. Nope. I give up." I thought to myself.
The five of us load into our tiny car and start driving. I regretfully inform my crew what we are about to walk into. It's a trailer, we need to move these appliances out for her. She thinks she can save them. I can tell my crew has the same immediate feeling as I did because the car was silent. After about 30 seconds of dread my husband says, "lets pray. Let's pray for her and us and what was about to happen." He lead us in a short prayer asking God to give us strength- and for us to be able to speak and act with love. That God would give us the words to speak.
I felt rejuvenated. Like we could conquer the world. Like we were going to walk into this place and help this lady see the truth about her nasty broken appliances.
Boy was I wrong. Ok. Are you ready for this? Are ready to hear what happened next? I don't think you're ready ... But here goes anyway.
We pull up to the trailer and I drag my feet as I get out of the car. I walk up the 5 steel steps- my heart sinking deeper with each one. And I knock on the door. I wait about 30 seconds and I don't hear a response. I think- perfect! She's not here, lets go home! But I decide to knock one more time to be sure. 2 seconds after I finish my last knock the doorknob turns.
When the door opens I am greeted by the biggest smile, brightest eyes, and most excited "hello" I have seen all week.
"Are you Delores?" I say.
"I sure am!! Come on in! I am so glad you are here! Thank y'all for coming!"
Her trailer literally smelled like flowers. Beautiful, clean, delicate flowers. It was spotless. Almost everything was removed, the carpeting was out, there were fans and air conditioning units running to help dry out the cupboards.
And her fringe was BEAUTIFUL!! It looked like it had just come out of the box from the store. You could tell she had wiped down and cleaned every inch of that trailer. She had put so much time and effort and love into her home and possessions!
"Wow. You have been working so hard in here!" I said to her. "Are you tired?"
"Well, you know," she responded, "Sometimes I try to go to bed at night, and I can't sleep. I've been waking up at 2 in the morning and I just start cleaning. But the joy of the Lord is my strength!"
Her smile suddenly transferred to my face- and I couldn't wipe it off.
"I have a question for you." She asked. "How do you think I should pack up my photos?"
She showed me to the bathroom where she had delicately laid out the photos she could save. She had closed the door and put an air conditioner in there.
As I looked through each of the photos my heart just broke for her. There were photos of her high school graduation, and her sitting on her fathers knee. She was so beautiful in each one of them.
Delores continued to speak with us as we moved her appliances for her. She was so appreciative of us being there to help her complete this 15 minute task. She had prepared for us to come. She had worked so hard to get everything ready for our arrival. She was tired, yet she was delighted to see us. She hugged us and smiled at us. She gave us Popsicles and asked to take a selfie with us.
She truly had the joy of the Lord as her strength.
I left almost not even knowing what happened. How did I enter into this situation with complete dread, and leave in complete joy? God worked through Delores to show me joy. He knew exactly what my heart was feeling, and what I needed at the end of a long hard day. I didn't even ask him, but by his grace, he provided for me.
"The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God cannot sustain you." -Billy Grahm