We took the long way to Estes. Not by choice, but necessity. Both main routes, Highways 34 and 36, into Estes Park were washed out two weeks ago in the floods that ravaged the state of Colorado. We’ve boasted many times how easy it is to get to the YMCA of the Rockies from Denver. Just a quick drive and voila you are there. Heaven on earth. The foothills of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Taking the long road, of course, has it’s own silver linings. We’ve driven up 119 through Nederland before, but only once. We stopped for lunch in Ned (that’s what the locals call it) and marveled at our welcoming committee – golden aspens so rich with the colors of autumn you could feel their warmth as the leaves danced in the cool air of the changing season.
Driving into Estes Park from Highway 7; however, our eyes were not so much fixed on what we could see, but on all the things we couldn’t.
“God does ten thousand things in every deed. Perhaps we know a dozen. Maybe two. But not enough to judge before He’s through.” John Piper
It’s unsettling to enter a community you love and not know what to expect or how to help. Many of you have shared stories of hurricanes, tornadoes, and other disaster relief efforts in which you have witnessed and served. Your comments have been helpful. It’s human nature to want to help. And, as a woman I sure have the “fix it” gene. But, I realize I’m not capable or called to fix.
Individually, we can’t fix the disaster. Collectively, as a body, using the gifts each of us was given, we can repair and rebuild. God will restore and redeem. Not just the roads and homes, but lives.
Inspired by John Piper’s quote the word that keeps coming back to me is,
Do your thing.
Tony and I have been at the YMCA of the Rockies for two days, doing our thing. We are volunteering with the community we hold dear. In the midst of the unbelievable we are witnessing story after story of those who are using their gifts to do their thing. Stories like John* (not his real name) who was called in from the National Guard to rebuild Highway 36. After working the backhoe all day John returned to his home away from home at the Y. We met John on the activity fields taking photos of the ginormous bull elk who also calls the Y home. We chatted about the work he was doing and as we left, I thanked him for doing his thing. He smiled and thanked me for doing mine.
We met Sally and Abe*(not their real names), two park rangers, at Lily Lake doing their thing. We exchanged stories and listened as Sally and Abe told their survival stories of the past two weeks. Sally joked the best news she had so far was her house being removed from the “No Flush” zone. We laughed that you knew you were a close knit community when potty talk was the second biggest topic of conversation. We bidded farewell and again, I thanked them for doing their thing. Sally smiled. She got it. We are all just doing our thing.
So far, my thing has been so natural it feels hardly worthy. My first assignment? Creating an invitation to the community event the Y is hosting next week. With my teammate Jason’s mad design skills we cranked out a flyer and assembled nearly 500 invitations for the Estes Park Elementary School. We even sorted the flyers by grade and teacher for the student Friday Folders. A thousand miles from home and I’m still doing Friday Folders! Guess it’s my thing.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of visiting every store downtown with Laura, my new friend and talented marketing saint at the Y. We invited store owners to the free dinner and concert with Cowboy Brad, extending the invitation from the Y to the community event. And, then we just listened. Listend to story after story of how they survived, homes they’ve lost, how they’ve ridden roughshod over rigged roads to collect anything that was left behind from the waters. Yet not one story ended in despair. The conversations all ended somewhat the same, “but, we are here. Not sure what tomorrow will bring or how we’ll make it all work. But, we will.”
I’m in awe of the mountain strong spirit that is alive and well in Estes Park. Ordinary people doing their thing makes for an extraordinary community. And, the YMCA and Estes Park are certainly extraordinary.
I’ve heard from so many of you wanting to help. Longing to be connected to a community you also love. I’ll be following up with specific ways, but for now:
Pray. Sounds obvious, but the community needs your prayers.
Write a letter. Send a letter offering encouragment and thanks to the amazing volunteers “doing their thing.” Send letters to Flood Relief Volunteers, c/o Laura Field, YMCA of the Rockies, 2515 Tunnel Road, Estes Park, Colorado 80511. The Y is currently housing front line relief workers from the National Guard, area Sheriffs Departments, local fire stations, and other government officials working around the clock to repair and rebuild.
Visit Estes Park. The town is open and eager to see you! And, may I recommend staying at the Y. 😉
Christmas from Estes. Consider buying Christmas gifts from the many merchants in Estes Park. I’m working on a list of stores that will ship fabulous finds for you to give to teachers, friends, and co-workers.
I’m headed back into town to do my thing. Thank you for your prayers and for being Mountain Strong!