(Thank you for your patience as I re-work my website. It looks a bit off right now. I am hoping the wait will be worth it.)
My heart breaks. For the children. For the moms. For the dads.
The statistics. You read them. First it’s 1000 dead. Then 2,000. Then we hear it’s going to be 5,000. The numbers as of today, May 11, are over 8,000 dead from the Nepal earthquake.
We say each of these numbers, 1000, 2000, 5000, 9,000 like they are just a number.
But they are not.
It’s 1000 God-created souls and lives. 2,000 little souls and lives, 5000 lives.
9,000 once-living breathing people, with hopes and dreams and real lives, real passions and personalities, gone from this earth. Moms and dads and teenagers and toddlers with families and loved ones.
Each day, I’ve been turning on the nightly national news to see what updates there are in Nepal. And, I have my children watch the news with me.
And we hope and pray and we plead for survivors, but time began to move forward after the explosive April 25 earthquake that rocked the region around Nepal and triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest.
We’ve hope and prayed for a glimmer of hope, and then we’ve rejoiced when there is one.
Like the 18-year-old pulled from the rubble, five days after the earthquake. I have 17-year-old twins. It hits home.
And, a 5-month-old baby, who was found alive after 22 hours in the rubble. The baby became a symbol of hope in Nepal.
While reading Emily Wierenga’s blog post reflecting on Nepal and how her pastor was weeping over the devastated lives, I to0 just began weeping. Again. The thousands dead, the thousands more injured and displaced and homeless and hopeless. I felt it so closely. And, as Emily pointed out in her post, we know Jesus feels our pain so dearly.
I make sure they are watching the nightly news with me, to see what is going on in the world. Yet, sometimes it feels like “just statistics.” How do you get kids to put a name, a face, a real live person to a statistic. How many kids are part of that number dead, in that statistic?
How do I get myself to feel, to see beyond the number?
Today, I weep.
I think of Justin Zoradi’s non-profit, These Numbers Have Faces, which reminds us that “figures and data are important tools to measuring complex social issues…but when we see those numbers as real people, we find a purpose that compels us to action.”
With the Nepal earthquake, then the recent aftershocks, and the tornadoes in the Midwest that are causing so much devastation in the lives of so many people, we can get so overwhelmed.
What can we do? Where can we help? Is there a way to make a difference?
News reports have surfaced sharing how organizations and individuals are traveling to Nepal to help victims of the earthquake; and people in the region are giving up hours and days and their own comfort to help these hurting individuals; and then of course there are others who are assisting those devastated by the Midwest spring storms.
And, when people cannot actually “go” to help in another country or region far from home, they assist by giving money and praying or funding others to go, which I am sure you have done as I have; yet it always feel like it’s not enough. Or that more can be done. So you weep and pray and ask God to show you.
A place to start right now, right here.
After our accident in January, so many people did just that, reaching out to our family in so many tangible, right here ways, bringing meals, sending cards, delivering flowers, and those people who have reached out to us have made all the difference in the world.
And, it’s made me realize — maybe reaffirm — that I want to be more deliberate about reaching out in situations when someone needs help. Right here, right now, where we are.
A week ago, my daughter-in-law Larissa and I were driving home from the bridal shower for my niece Gretchen. And just before we were about to turn onto our street, we saw flashing lights down the street, lights that looked like emergency vehicles of some kind.
The location of these flashing lights looked just beyond where my husband and my accident was last January. So I suggested to Larissa that we drive down to see what was going on. Deep down, for a moment, I wondered if it was a pedestrian struck by a car. I suppose I will always think that way.
As we got closer to the flashing light, sure enough, it was an accident — this time a bicycle rider was struck by a car.
My twins happened to be driving by the accident scene as well and later they told me that they thought that the victim was an old pal of theirs, Merlyn, from Boy Scouts, but they were not sure.
Later, thanks to Facebook, I found out that the victim was indeed Merlyn, so I called his guardian (his grandma) to talk to her about what happened; she shared with me that Merlyn was struck by a car while riding his bicycle to get ice cream. I was shocked.
He ended up at the emergency room and was released the same day. He is going to be okay, but he was shook up. Talk about scary.
The next day, I told my kids that I think we should reach out to Merlyn, to bring him a card and maybe a balloon and some ice cream. To let him know that we are thinking of him and that we care.
We did and it meant the world to him.
It was important to bring my kids with me for this outreach and it was something we could do right now, right here, in our neighborhood. Sometimes, we look for opportunities far away, and we should, but remember right here too, in our neighborhoods. Like for us, there’s also Joyce, my next door neighbor, who is limited with her breathing disability and she is unable to go anywhere during the day. She is right here, right now, next door. It doesn’t have to be fancy or take forever or be that creative. It can be a phone call, a card, a visit, a “how are you today?”
I always want to think of times in the midst of everyday ordinary life, as opportunities to reach out, to let someone know that someone cares, that we care and that people in our lives matter. And, we do that by being present and active in the lives of others.
It’s real life. It’s here, locally. It’s not glamorous. It won’t make the evening news. It’s just living, in the moment, being a neighbor, a community member, a family member, a friend, a believer, where you live.
Yes, send money to Nepal, yes, go to Nepal, yes, sponsor someone going to Nepal, yes, weep for Nepal. And, for tornado victims and others devastated by big disasters.
And, also see what is right in front of you. Right here. Right now.