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  • Laura MacNeil Smith

When Lightning Strikes

They say lightning doesn't strike the same place twice, and for the sake of our inverter, I'm praying that's true.

It was a dark and stormy Friday night, but we didn't think anything of it. Matthew and Gideon were inside playing video games with Gideon's friend. It was raining lightly, but flashes of lightning and thunder filled the sky. I was sitting in the hammock on the porch, about to call my sister.

Then a loud crack.

A flash.

And total darkness.

My hearing went out and there was nothing but a piercing ringing in my ears, as lightning hit a palm tree about 20 feet from where I was sitting. I've never seen anything like that in my life and it's hard to describe how powerful it was to actually witness. I think I yelled but I can't quite remember. All I know is Gideon gets upset when he sees me upset, and he was already in tears as we tried to find flashlights and candles. We could smell something burning and see sparks falling from the sky, but it took a few minutes for Matthew and I to figure out the palm tree above was on fire. Below us, the community center full of young people were yelling for us to get out of the house, while we were yelling for them to get out of the street. It was a little bit chaotic as we all tried to get our bearings on what was going on. Thankfully the rain kept the burning palm tree contained. Between the awful smell coming from our electrical system, which was even closer to the palm than I was, and the fact that the power wouldn't turn on, we knew something had gone wrong. The electrician's visit the next day confirmed our fears, the force of the lightning had fried our inverter and one of our lithium batteries. We wouldn't have any power until that inverter could be replaced. Electricity affects everything we do. This meant no community cell phone charging station, no program, no internet, no means to get anything done that we needed to, no way to pump running water into the house. Both our community and our family depend on the community center having electricity. Life was put on pause until we could figure out how to resolve this.

Lately it's been one thing after another. The events of the past month have absolutely gutted me. It's been too much.

The grief of having our adoption paperwork stolen, of having to figure out how to start over, on top of all the stresses of our normal ministry schedule have been more than I can manage well. Instead of sharing our future hopes and plans for the building of the new community center this fall, that has been put on hold as we have been trying to figure out how to move forward with these challenges. I've been struggling and doing a really terrible job at hiding it. While I'm really used to sharing the needs of our community and being an advocate on behalf of others, I have a much harder time admitting when I need help myself.

The Lord has humbled me so quickly, as I've had to ask for help, as I've had to be vulnerable and I've been met with nothing but kindness and comfort from those who have helped lighten the load. Friends, family and neighbors who've kept our family in prayer that the paperwork would be recovered. Incredible supporters who didn't hesitate to send the much needed emergency electricity funds in a crazy short amount of time. The missions flight organization who was able to put our inverter on the plane last minute, instead of us having to wait another week for the next flight. Friends who have cried with us, called us or opened the doors of their home to us. This is not a lonely journey. And any act of kindness, no matter how small, has meant the world to us lately.

Life can be really hard, impossibly hard, but God is still good. His goodness isn't dependent on my circumstances at the moment or progress that has or hasn't happened yet. It doesn't minimize the difficulties or try to put a positive spin on our challenges. Perhaps it's the flash of light in dark times, that keeps us grounded and safe in the storm.

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