Read Hearts across the Water as an Amazon ebook for $2.99
Read Hearts across the Water as an Amazon ebook for $2.99
My son Terry reminded me of this story last night during a telephone call from Boston as Harvey’s rains moved in.
It’s one of my favorites from a special book.
Jody and Mary
Jody and Mary and their two children are living in Virginia right now. Their journey up from Cameron Parish’s Gulf Coast to the Atlantic Coast of the United States has been a long and difficult trek.
We first met them at The City of Hope. They arrived just before the winds of Rita picked up. By the time they got to Dry Creek, the hurricane had turned enough toward Louisiana that Jody, a Cameron native, knew there would be nothing left to return to.
Jody’s family had lived through many storms including Hurricane Audrey. Jody’s dad, who arrived with him, related as to how he had lived in a tent for six months after Audrey.
They moved into dorm 4 and rode out the storm. In this dorm was an extended family of brothers, uncles, and cousins.
I enjoyed visiting with Jody and his brother Robert. They were easy to talk to. As the brothers shared, it was very evident that they’d had a hard, difficult life.
You could just tell that they had been beaten down by life. They had a hard look about them. And now after Rita, they were homeless with nothing left but what they had brought with them. It was also obvious they had not brought much with them.
By the fourth day after Rita, the City of Hope shelter closed due to no water and electricity. Family-by-family, group-by-group, our evacuees headed out. Everyone seemed to have found somewhere to go except Mary and Jody. Their family members they had traveled up with had left. Whether it was true or not, Jody felt as if they had been abandoned.
They had no vehicle and knew no one. Saddest of all, it was evident they had just about lost their hope for the future. The results of the storm had kicked them one more time and they did not quite know what to do next.
Our remaining group of fifteen evacuees traveled in a caravan to our sister camp of Judson Baptist Assembly, located north of Baton Rouge. DeDe and I carried Jody, Mary, and their children. It was an interesting six hours as we hunted for gasoline, enduring ten stops due to an overheated radiator on one of the vehicles.
As we neared Judson Camp, we drove through a series of detours that led us on a long, dusty, and narrow gravel road. It seemed as if our long journey would never end.
Landon, Jody and Mary’s four-year-old son had entertained us on the entire trip. As we discussed as to whether we were lost on this dirt road, Brandon piped in, “I haven’t been here before, but I know the way.”
We had a good laugh at Brandon’s comment. When he saw our laughter he would repeat this statement on every curve or at every road intersection, “I haven’t been here before, but I know the way.”
Camp directors Eugene and Debi Morris opened their hearts and doors to our evacuees. I felt funny about leaving them the next day but knew they were in good hands. We haven’t seen Jody and Mary after our parting that morning. I wonder about them often. I still see their sad eyes so full of despair.
Good things have happened to Jody and Mary. A church in Virginia adopted them. They flew them up, gave them housing, got a job for Jody, and basically took them in as family. I hope they are happy and comfortable long-term. It is difficult to leave your lifelong home for a new area. Cameron Parish is beloved by its citizens. They have a long-time commitment for returning and rebuilding.
I’m not sure if Jody and Mary will stay in Virginia or eventually return to the marshes of Cameron. That is their decision and it will be a personal decision. Relocation is often an opportunity for a new start. All over our nation thousands are getting a new start. Many will stay, choosing not to return south or east. Others will get back on their feet and then return to rebuild their homes and lives.
I’ve thought often about this couple who passed through our lives at The City of Hope. Often I think of another couple that went on a long unfamiliar journey. Their names were familiar to Jody and Mary’s.
Joseph and Mary were a young couple traveling with only what they had on their backs. The journey to Bethlehem was long, difficult, and full of the unknown. Mary being pregnant probably did not need to travel so far, but they were a family now and Joseph wasn’t going without her. This was not a journey of choice, but rather of necessity. The Roman government had ordered this census and what the ruling authorities wanted went down whether you liked it or not.
Then to be away from home among strangers and have your first child—what could have been more stressful?
I wonder if Joseph, who was sensitive to following God’s direction, had any doubts. He was in tune with God’s leading. Just read the passage about the angel instructing Joseph to believe Mary’s story of her virgin conception.
I wonder if Joseph had thought this during this time: “I haven’t been here before, but I know the way.”
Because following God’s direction and will is following Someone who has been there before and definitely knows the way.
In its own way, the road trip to Bethlehem was just a warm-up for another trip. After Jesus’ birth, another angel visit instructed Joseph to take Mary and Jesus to escape Herod’s infanticide by going to Egypt.
Once again Joseph, the chosen earthly father of God’s own precious Son, was entrusted with a perilous journey—a long journey to a foreign land—to a place of different culture, language, and religion. As he sought God’s direction step-by-step, there was that thought echoing again: “I haven’t been here before, but I know the way.”
Well, I don’t know the way exactly, but I am following the great Mapmaker who knows where my feet should go.
Jody and Mary, wherever you are, I hope you realize this: God has that same good plan for you. He cares deeply and wants only the best for you. Follow His path. It’s the path of peace and joy.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
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