Sunday, September 20, 2009

God's Love

I remember when my Grandpa Karnes died. I call him Pawpaw. I was about 5 years old when Pawpaw died and I have an eidetic memory of the moment I heard: my parents had just put Jon and I in bed (we had bunk beds) and my mom got a phone call. We knew that Pawpaw had been sick, and we had actually just recently come back from visiting him in West Virginia. The thing that made me cry the most was that I had never gotten the chance to know him and I felt that I never would know him. I was just a little boy when this happened.

Fast-forward about 15 years in my life: I was a missionary on the island of São Vicente in Cape Verde. There was a rainstorm and since it doesn't rain often in Cape Verde, there was a lot of damage. The missionaries all went to help people get the water out of their houses and clean their belongings. One of the houses we worked on the most had over 6 feet of water in it from the rain. This was a one-story house, meaning they had spent most of the rainstorm outside of their house trying to get the water out. Virtually all of their possessions were destroyed. We got the water out bucket by bucket. We helped them clean their clothes and everything that wasn't totally destroyed. I worked harder that day (physically) than perhaps any other day in my life. I was sore in places I had never been sore before, so sore I couldn't even walk normally. It was a tiring day.

Somewhere in the middle of all this a Quiet Something brought the memory of Pawpaw to my mind. Pawpaw worked in a coal mine in West Virginia. He worked on a farm after he got enough money from mining to buy his daddy's land. He worked very hard every day of his professional life I imagine. I felt like working like that helped me come to know my Pawpaw a bit even though he had moved on when I was little.

Cape Verde is a third world country. I had other experiences throughout my missionary experience that I felt helped me get a glimpse of Pawpaw. He grew up in the rural United States; he would've been a teenager sometime in the 1910s. As Cape Verde taught me a more simple way of life, there was always a Gentle Influence that reminded me of my grandfather. I know that that was the Holy Ghost, sent by God to make up for a little boy's tears. I never thought to pray to God to ask Him to make this up to me, but He loves us dearly and doesn't forget. He intently watches over us and cares for us, and I testify of it in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

The Church decided to donate beds, bedding, some food, clothes, and some other essentials to the families that had lost the most. These were delivered later that night after things had been cleaned up.