By: Vicki Matustik
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ – Matthew 25:40
Oak Hill mission teams have been going to Galveston since 2008, shortly after Hurricane Ike. Visitors may wonder what work remains for much of the exterior damage was repaired quickly. Galveston depends upon tourism for economic security, and few people want to vacation amid reminders of devastation.
Behind the exterior of the quaint cottages and Victorian homes, the neediest of the needy wait – wait for willing hands and feet to assist in restoring the interior of their homes and by extension their lives.
In November 2015, my team was assigned to assist Jesse. With Galveston being his home more than 60 of his 80+ years, he had seen his share of hurricanes. In his younger years, being a working man of able body, he would make the necessary repairs to the three-room home that he shared with the two women of his life – his wife and his daughter – both of whom have preceded him in death. But time had aged him, so he waited, humbling himself to depend upon the assistance of strangers.
The walls of Jesse’s home once had been shiplap covered in wallpaper, but Ike’s wrath had left strips of paper hanging like dried flowers from ceiling and walls. Over the next three days, our team cleared, swept, hung dry wall, and taped and floated seams. At breaks, we enjoyed Jesse’s stories.
On the last afternoon, Jesse and I walked through the room. Another crew was expected next week to take the room through paint and final clean up. “Honey,” he said. “This room will be a castle and I can’t thank you all enough.” He paused, taking my hand in his own beautifully-aged hands, and continued, “But if I had nothing more than your sweet voices in this house for the past few days, I would be blessed.”
With a lump in my throat, I looked into his eyes. I felt the presence of our shared Lord and knew that the two of us, in that moment, were standing on holy ground. No angel chorus, no guiding star, but truly the presence of our Lord stood among us.