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  • Sarah Beth Dippel


I'm thousands of miles away. My house is standing. My family is safe. When I turn on the faucet, water comes out. The power is on. The internet works. The grocery stores are stocked. There isn't even a line at the gas station. Yesterday, UPS delivered my Amazon package with a brand new waffle iron. I am blessed. I am beyond blessed.

This life offers us trials, and 2020 has put many things in perspective. Now, I watch as the people of Lake Charles and the surrounding areas begin a very long process of picking up their community's broken pieces. They will have many months of struggle. They have no water, no power, some have no roof, no windows, no home, no church, no grocery store. It's hard to imagine what they will have to do to simply survive for the next several months and that it will be years before life is normal there again.

I was over 30 when I moved to Lake Charles, but I grew up there. The people of Our Lady Queen of Heaven, St. Theodore's, and the Catholic community of LC and Moss Bluff changed my life. It's not an exaggeration to tell you that they changed the course of my life. God brought me to Lake Charles, Louisiana, to encounter Him. More so than anywhere else I've lived, it holds a place in my heart that I hold dear. I'm a better person today than when I first arrived in Lake Charles.

We've all suffered a lot this year. We've lost a lot this year. Life is different and difficult, and there are lots of disappointments. Still, if the people of Lake Charles can remain positive, peaceful, and in good spirits while looking at absolute devastation, we should look to them for inspiration. They have been my inspiration for years. The world will watch and pray and send our small donations to people who embody what I believe most of this country lacks. They will band together; they will rebuild. They are the heart of a country that, in my eyes, seems to have lost heart.

Many miles away, I feel guilty that I will not face the trials they face today and for many more days. It seems surreal that while their lives are torn apart, my life goes on as it did yesterday. Only, it won't, I am heart-broken, I feel their suffering, and it makes me appreciate things I usually take for granted. I will treasure a hot shower and a warm meal, a roof to keep out the rain. I will not forget that I am blessed when I pray for those with so much less today.

Lord, I don't have the words right now, but I ask you to pour out your mercy and love on all those suffering. Please give them the grace to remain hopeful in this trial. Amen.

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