Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Hewett, Renee Hewett
Down through the years I've watched countless people pass through Hoonah. They come, stay for awhile and move on. I've watched, sometimes with envy, as they packed their belongings and continued on with their lives elsewhere.Some of the families who had called Mt. Bether home moved to Hoonah for a season, had jobs and businesses and children. Then, whether listening to a still, small voice like Elijah, or answering a longing deep down, they pulled up stakes and left. If there is a downfall to making friends with people, it's that when they're gone they leave a hole in your heart. It's always great to get a Christmas card or letter from them or better yet a phone call, but it's not the same as sharing a meal or a game of cards. The latest passer through was this young gal pictured here, Renee. When she came to Hoonah several years ago to take on the job of school counselor, I don't think she was fully prepared for what she encountered. The first place she rented was a three bedroom house that was basically turned into three apartments, more or less. She occupied one of the upstairs bedrooms and had to share the bathroom with an older couple who had been displaced when their apartment caught fire. On her first day here as she was walking up the stairs to her room, the man was in the bathroom at the top of the stairs taking a leak with the door wide open. Welcome to Hoonah kiddo! She's a very proper gal and I think it may have unnerved her a bit, but like everything she encountered here she seemed to take it in stride. I first met her in our church and I felt almost fatherly towards her- she seemed somewhat vulnerable. It didn't take long for her to become an asset to the school and to the church. She plays the violin so well that I'm sure if she wanted to she could find work in any orchestra. We were blessed to have her as a guest for two Thanksgivings and in more than a few games of Gin Rummy. My daughter Jen became best friends with her and I know she misses her too. The other day Renee called the house and left a message on our phone. "Hello Botts. This is Hewett; Renee Hewett." It cracked me up. For some reason when certain folks speak of my family they use our last name like it was a physical item. "I'm going to go see the Botts." It could almost be used as a disease. "What's wrong with me doc? Why do I feel this way?" "You have the Botts-I'm sorry."
Anyway, she felt like God was wanting her to return to her home in New York. Several of the folks in the church wondered if she heard correctly,we really didn't want her to go. As it is though, she's living with her folks. The area they live in was one that was struck by floods after the hurricane hit the northeast. Thousands of folks in her town were evacuated, their homes are destroyed, their belongings are ruined and their places of business are no more. Renee's house is on a hill, so they didn't lose their home. They've generously offered housing for several families, however her father's work place was flooded and the last I heard they weren't sure when he will be able to go back to work. She has been volunteering with the clean up effort and mentioned many of the homes have to boil their water. In at least one case there was no gas available to be able to boil the water. After the flood waters have receeded the residue left behind is a toxic mix of sewage and chemicals and mud and the stench is attrocious. Most of us can't fathom what it's like to lose all of our belongings in one fell swoop, as well as our jobs. I should think that hope would be non existent and I know that anger and despair would be a constant companion to many. I hope that those who read this will remember the folks in New York and Pennsylvania and Vermont and other places in the Northeast who have suffered such devastation, as well as those burned out in Texas or the folks in Joplin Missouri and Alabama and Tennessee where tornadoes brought such destruction. Please pray for healing for this land and these people wherever they are, and if you are able, I hope that you'll contact the Salvation Army or Samaritans Purse or whatever relief agency you know of who will be working in these areas to bring comfort and will donate generously. Thanks Renee for heeding God's call. We miss you gal, but you're doing what God's called you to do. Keep up the good work.