I have spent the last several days in San Diego, California. Exactly this time last year, they suffered devastating fires, and we were here to see the recovery efforts that have been taken by local Presbyterian churches. It is truly heartening to see how many just plain good folk there are out and about.
Just as with my visit to New Orleans last October, I was not on a trip to be a tourist. So, I by-passed many of the sights to see in San Diego. Oh, sure--we traveled around the area, but in each case we were going to see people whose lives had been devastated by the fires.
Today I will tell you Tom's story. He was born in Japan, but came to the U.S. decades ago. Just 2 years ago, his daughter and her family came to live with him. Last year's fire destroyed Tom's American dream. He lives in the environs of Ramona, CA. When the fires started, he kept watching and thinking--it won't come here, it won't come here. His house had a commanding view overlooking a valley.
With his daughter and her family safely away, he watched to see where the fires would go. Just as with each of the people we went to see, Tom said--suddenly the fire was there, virtually all around. He jumped in his vehicle and drove for safety. When he was able to return, everything was gone.
In helping him recover, the local church built a garage for him. Tom works as a handy-man repairing various machines. So, he not only needed a place to continue his work, but also to store his tools. The church also built him a tool shed--in fact, a shed is the first thing they build anywhere. A shed is small enough it doesn't require a building permit; it can be locked, and thus provides a place to store property. Sadly, looting is a post-fire problem.
Tom was so moved by the help of the church that he now goes along with them, volunteering and rebuilding other people's lives.
Tom's house has not yet been rebuilt--he hopes that will happen soon. Meanwhile, he has been living in this RV home, while his daughter and her family live elsewhere.
More stories in future posts.