She walked outside early that day to get a head start on the heat. There was a lot to do – way more than she or her husband was capable of doing in a day. And before long the temperature would be in the high 80’s making it even harder to work.
She looked at her yard.
Several large trees had been blown down, roots pulled up out of the ground leaving large holes. Other trees with broken trunks were lying across the sidewalk. A set of bare trees with broken branches were leaning towards their neighbor’s house. There were many large branches, wooden fence boards, and shingles scattered across the yard. And leaves everywhere!
She looked at her tools. One hand saw. One large pair of shears. One smaller hand shears for pruning. One wheelbarrow. A rake. And a shovel.
How in the world would these simple tools help them clear the huge mess? Sighing with resolve, she knew if she didn’t get started, the mess would only get worse as the grass grew to cover shingles and nails and other potentially dangerous things. She decided to start with the fence boards. They wouldn’t need any tools and she could drag them to the street. At least most of them. Some were still attached in large sections and would need to be cut into smaller pieces before she could move them.
As she dragged the fence pieces, her husband got the hand saw and began sawing the fallen branches into more manageable sizes, pulling them to the street and tossing them into a separate pile to cooperate with the city’s request to keep the debris sorted for easier removal later.
They worked in silence for about an hour, then her husband called to her. “Can you come help?”
“What do you need?” she called back as she stopped dragging a board to wipe the sweat from her face.
“Help me get the rest of this branch to the street.”
She carefully walked over to him, looked at the branch,
“You think we can move this?”
“I think so.”
“OK. Let’s try.”
They each got a good hand hold on the branch and began dragging it. Or at least attempted to. The branch was heavier than they thought and no matter how hard they strained, they could only move it an inch or two at a time.
“Could you use some help?” came a man’s voice from the direction of the street.
They looked up, startled, to see a man in a yellow shirt standing outside a car parked next to their growing pile of debris, smiling at them. On his shirt were the words “Helping Hands”.
“We sure could,” answered her husband. “Do you have a chain saw?”
“We have lots of chain saws.”
“Yeah,” the man answered, pointing to a long line of cars behind his. “We’re all from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we’re here to help.”
She stared in disbelief. There must have been at least half a dozen cars and trucks, all filled with people in yellow shirts who were jumping out, picking up a variety of tools, and heading for her yard.
They quickly got to work sawing and dragging and chopping. She watched for a little while then went inside to hide her tears but continued to watch them work from an upstairs window. She was awed at their efficiency and cheerfulness as they worked.
After awhile she rejoined her husband in the yard.
“This is a miracle,” he told her. “This is nothing short of a real miracle.”
She nodded agreement as the leader of the group brought over a slice of a tree.
“We like to leave a little something to the people we help,” he said as he handed them a slice of the large uprooted oak tree that used to stand in the middle of the yard.
Tears in their eyes, she and her husband explained how they had bought this oak tree when it was tiny and half dead from a hardware store and had enjoyed watching it grow over the years. She was surprised at how much comfort holding this small slice of the tree brought her.
Within an hour, her yard was clear of all the fences, branches and tree trunks they could manage. The leader approached them again. “Sorry we couldn’t do the set of leaning trees or the broken giant pine tree. You’ll probably need to hire a licensed contractor for those,” he apologized.
“No, no, no!” they said. “You don’t need to apologize! You’ve done enough! More than enough!”
A group photo was taken, hugs were exchanged, and then just as quickly as they had arrived, the group of yellow shirted angels left to look for another family to help.
There was still a lot of work to do such as picking up the shingles, searching for nails hidden in the grass, moving landscaping rocks and potted plants away from damaged gardens, and digging up few fence posts that had survived but without all the branches to work around, it would be so much easier and faster to get it done.
Tears slipping down her face, she thanked God for His love and care. She hadn’t asked Him for help with the yard, but He knew what they needed and provided it anyway.
What an amazing group of people!
What an amazing God!