On Friday October 28th, the chaplains were rounding on the people affected by the storm Fiona of Rivière des Pères, when Pastor GGG and I visited with sister XX. She described the impact the storm had on her emotionally and was grateful that Chaplains were on hand to listen to her story. She had more to tell, even though she had a chance, initially, to encounter other chaplains and psychologists. She really wanted to share how her faith in God sustained her during the ordeal. In the earlier encounters, she was uncomfortable that some helpers were not ready to accept that she held on to God’s promise: “When you go through the waters they will not overwhelm you;” while many hanged on trees and walls to escape the furious waters.
Mrs. XX has been a Seventh-day Adventist for over 40 years. She is a member of the Saint Robert in Baillif. Her husband attends on occasions but is not a member of the Adventist family. On the night of the storm, her husband left her in a three bedroom bungalow style house alone to move the car to higher ground. The water was already up to her ankles in the house and she leaned against the main door, praying and hoping her husband would return soon. She stated that: “All I remember doing was recounting God’s promises to me and I was confident that my faith would save me.” When she was engaged around the absence of her husband, she responded that she did not feel lonely in the house. Through her prayers she experienced a serene presence, which she attributed to God’s angels assisting her. However, when questioned as to her thought about the whereabouts of her husband, and how he might have been feeling, knowing that she was alone in the house, she said he should answer this question himself.
The encounter with Mr. XX, which took place the following Sunday, revealed how God was at work in saving the occupants of the two Adventist families, who were right on the path of this furious river which, had overflowed its banks. Mr. XX explained that while he was perched from the wall about three hundred feet away from his house, he watched the river descending with great furry carrying a huge boat and several boulders aiming straight at his house. Suddenly, the river made a 90 degree turn and went uphill just 20 feet from his house. With the help of the chaplains, he recognized that indeed the hand of God must have influenced this change in course. From that moment Mr. XX acknowledged that a miracle indeed took place. He stated that: “Three times I watched the boat heading straight for my house and turned back at about 50 feet away”. Finally, the boat went upstream to rest on a small island of sand created by the violent river.
This was the moment in the conversation that Mr. XX began reflecting profoundly on the providence of the Divine. While, initially, his references were guided by a humanistic understanding of good fortune and reason, this time he reflected honestly: “One must take seriously the affairs of God.” Later, he admitted to the foolishness of leaving the house to save the car. However, he also realized that this allowed him to witness the awesome work of God on behalf of his family. Except for God changing the course of the river to save both Adventist families’ homes, they would have been destroyed by the sheer force of the raging river, the weight of the boat or the boulders. In fact, the only death reported in this incident came as the river washed away a home just 300 feet from the XX’s home. We ended our conversation with Mr. XX declaring that God must be the reason behind this miraculous intervention. He ended the encounter by repeating his earlier admission: “I will pay more attention to the affairs of God.”