One of our favorite places we have ever visited – St. Mary’s Anglican Church on Front Street, Grand Turk in the Caribbean. In January 2014, my husband, Greg, and I sat on the wooden church benches, admired the stained-glass windows, and listened to the ladies describe the history of the church, the hurricanes it weathered, and how the building was a haven for those seeking shelter. The ladies said their faith and community kept them going through Hurricane Ike, which struck the tiny island in 2008 leveling most buildings, but not St. Mary’s. They ended the visit with the playing of hymns and harmonic voices.
Fast forward to this past weekend with Hurricane Irma, Category 5, barreling straight through the islands across the Caribbean. Places we have visited and loved, completely devastated. Our hearts broke for the people, the places, and the history wiped away in a matter of hours. We scoured the news to keep up with what was happening on Grand Turk and other islands. There was no news for a while.
One last search on Monday, I found a BBC news blip that showed pictures from the air revealing the destruction across the island of Grand Turk. Houses smashed like match sticks, debris strewn across roads, fields, and beaches. The damage very similar to other islands in the path of this monster storm. Then I saw it, a picture, just one – the red shutters, the roof intact, the beach front white building – it was unmistakable. The church still stood. A light in the darkness.
I imagine it was again a safe haven for those in need housing the sweet, kind people who live nearby. They lost everything before, and once again most of the island is decimated, but they will rebuild. We hope to see them again – the community, happy smiling faces, ready to share their culture and history. Ready to play the organ and sing spirituals for those who are interested enough to step through the arched doors and listen.
We hope to be there again – and visit all the islands throughout the Caribbean. In the meantime, we pray for God’s peace and hope and strength be with those who suffered so much across the tropics, in the United States.
“He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.” Psalm 107:29 NIV