Saturday, December 24, 2016

My Christmas Miracle

My miracle from God – 94 days in the making:

As some of you might recall, Thailand suffered from a huge flood back in 2011.  I was living in the Rangsit area at the time which is about 45 minutes north of Bangkok. The flood waters took weeks to move down to our area from up north. And although we were assured we would be protected by the 30-foot dike that was built  surrounding our village and the large university we lived next to, we watched the news and talked to neighbors daily debating on whether we should stay or leave

Eventually on October 20th we learned the water had reached the village just north of us.  Our team was evacuated from our homes that night . We were told that if the flood waters entered our homes it shouldn’t get higher than a foot or so. We had just a few hours to get as much as we could stacked on tables or moved upstairs. It was impossible to move everything, but I felt confident I had gotten the most important things to safety before we left. We evacuated to a town 3 hours south of our homes that was outside the flood zone and assumed we'd have to stay there a few days until the water passed. 

Several days later I found out the water filled my area including my house with over 6ft. of black, acidic, sewage water. No one thought it would get that high or stay as long as it did. It would be 57 days before the water left, and we were able to get back into our homes. Sometime during that time we were evacuated, I remembered about my Christmas box, and my heart sunk knowing it hadn’t made it out of the storage area under the stairwell. Inside a large box I store my tree, all my ornaments, stockings, etc., and that year I had added the most precious thing to it – my grandparents’ nativity set. I’d always wanted one and was so pleased to be given it in February that year when my Grandpa passed away. There were other things along the way that I would remember and wonder if they had made it to safety, but I was most disappointed about the nativity set. Every now and then, over the time while we were waiting, I prayed that somehow the Lord would let me have it back.
My fellow missionary's house after the water had receded a few feet.

Eventually on December 16th the ground was dry enough to bring a moving truck in to collect what we could salvage from our homes and bring it to Hua Hin where we were going to relocate. My landlords came, as well, that day and brought many workers to help clear out all the trash. The workers sifted through the “rubbish” – furniture, curtains, books, supplies, tools, etc. that had just disintegrated in the black grungy water and become a huge pile of mush. As they worked, they kept things they thought they could use. What they couldn’t use or didn’t want, they loaded up on the back of a pickup truck and hauled it to the dumping area outside of the village. That day they took out five truckloads. We only had five hours to pack the house up, and the doors for the storage area was still too swollen to open. Although I knew it was ruined, I was praying somehow the Lord had preserved the small nativity set. It was a crazy morning, and my mind was so foggy with everything, but as we left, I asked my owner to look for the Christmas box when the door had dried out and they were able to get into the storage area. A few days later I left for two weeks to have Christmas in New Zealand. 

Large snake tracks in the mud left behind.

Every kind and color of mold was growing on everything.

Many times over the next couple of weeks I thought about that nativity set and asked the Lord to work a miracle. When I arrived back in Thailand I made an appointment with my landlady to meet her at the house so I could have a look around. At the time we were driving the three hours back each Sunday to have church, and so we scheduled the appointment for the first Sunday I returned. On that day she had to cancel, but assured me that everything was gone except for a dog cage they had managed to salvage. My heart sank to think that there was no way I’d ever get the nativity set back and to know it would be another week before I could return to check. We made an appointment for the next Sunday. It was almost as devastating to drive into my area as it was the first day when we packed the house up. The area still looked like a war zone. People were not living in their houses yet. The black sludge lines had not been scrubbed away. The trees that died had not been cut down, and the grass had not yet started to grow. It looked so horrible. 

Sure enough when I went into the house they had cleaned out all the rooms. I stuck my head in the stairwell area and used a light to search the far corners hoping that somehow my nativity set had fallen out of the box and was left behind. As we chatted and walked around the house I couldn’t help but thank the Lord for such a lovely home He had let me live in, and thank Him for the things that I was able to save. Eventually we made our way outside the back door and around the side yard. When we came to the far side wall, I saw a small gold Christmas ball, a little Christmas pillow, and a Styrofoam box lying next to the house. I knew then that my large Christmas box was broken up and probably shoveled into the trash piles and trucked away. My landlady said in the end it took over 12 truckloads of rubbish to clear out the house. 

A little further up were several piles of wood, broken chairs, and a couple big plastic bags they used to haul things in. Then I noticed a small clear grocery bag full of rubbish that had another gold Christmas ball inside it. I reached down to pull it out and guess what was next to it - one of the pieces of my nativity set. I screamed and started crying. I ripped the bag open and out fell a bunch of trash. In it were five of the nativity set pieces. I couldn’t believe it!!! Mary and one of the wisemen were missing. We had just started to search around the area, when a friend turned the piece of Styrofoam over that was near the wall and in it there were the last two pieces sitting snuggly in their spot. I kept shouting “ขอบคุณพระเจ้า “ “Praise the Lord!” There were tears, as you might expect, and my landlady hugged me and kept saying she was so excited, and she couldn’t believe it! She kept saying that these ornaments were meant to be with me. I told her that God had protected them for me… that He was the one who did it. 

My landlady just couldn’t believe it because there was no real reason why that little bag of rubbish hadn’t gone with all the other stuff or why that Styrofoam box wasn’t included in the pile. I knew the reason. God knew how precious it was to me and for 94 days He had been “protecting” it -“hiding” it. Protecting it from the acidic water that was so strong it stripped the color from the couches and shredded heavy denim curtains. Hiding it from the workers as they sifted through my things. Hiding it from the shovels as they loaded up the rubbish into the back of the trucks. Protecting it as it sat there on the side of the yard for several weeks until I could come. One friend said, God must have had an angel keeping watch saying with every shovel load, “No, not this bag, guys.” “No, not this bag.” 

What an amazing God I serve to care for seven little things in such a huge flood for 94 days. What a miracle.


Mark said...

LOVE this story! God cares! He reveals Himself in these desires of our hearts when they are pleasing to him. So excited for you! Thanks for sharing. - Brenda

Mark said...

LOVE this story! God cares! He reveals Himself in these desires of our hearts when they are pleasing to him. So excited for you! Thanks for sharing. - Brenda

Shari House said...

Your welcome. I'm glad it was a blessing to you

Shari House said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lou Ann Keiser said...

What a wonderful story! I had something similar happen for me this Christmas. I saw God do something special to protect some fragile Christmas gifts for others--and some chocolates. Thankful!