On September 28, 2022 Hurricane Ian ravaged Florida as a category 4, devastating the coastal neighborhoods of Naples. As a group Heaven Sent felt called to serve by collecting donations from our Miami community of food, hygiene items, clothing, cleaning supplies, pet food, baby supplies, air mattresses, sleeping bags and most importantly toilet paper. With help from our sponsors and volunteers, we loaded up two vans with supplies and headed over Saturday morning October 15, 2022. As we drove around looking for a community to serve, what we saw was total devastation. Cars fixed in yards, doors open to air out from sitting in flood water, hills of damaged furniture, mattresses, kids toys and appliances lined the streets of these neighborhoods.
We talked to a woman that evacuated her waterfront property. While she was gone her daughter sent a team to remove the damaged furniture and clean out her house. What she came home to was her life, scattered all over her front lawn. Her friend was helping her sort through her things while she was slowly walking around this mountain of furniture and memories with a blank expression, clearly in shock.
Another woman told us “Within fifteen minutes of the rain starting we had four feet of water in our homes” and she was speaking of her 55+ community.
Luckily, we found that most areas had their power restored by the time we arrived. Different organizations and the Naples Moms community had set up outreaches to hand out hot food and supplies. Heaven Sent went door-to-door in a few areas to hand out supplies and pray but felt called to the trailer park ‘Harmony Shores’.
Weeks after the hurricane, the families of Harmony Shores were still living without power and were told by management that they need to vacate the park within 30 days. We set up our tables on the patio of an abandoned trailer and handed out donations. The word spread quickly and families came from all over to pick up supplies. This is a community filled with children, babies, pregnant women, and hard-working men. There were kids riding bikes and playing in the street and a volunteer we call ‘Pops’ cheerily handed out cold waters to everyone. First encounter a volunteer named Jannete prayed for two men in their devastated home. Henry and Vanessa, two of our most prayerful volunteers prayed for a man named Pedro who reconciled to the Lord. Everyone enjoyed the presence of God as Heaven Sent ministered and there was joy and laughter all a round.The community of Harmony Shores was not sad or defeated in the least. This is a community of beautiful and humble people with a positive attitude.
Our second stop was another trailer park across the street where we found just as much destruction but even more smiles. Together with a Naples Moms group, and volunteers from all over the country, we handed out the rest of our donations and went door to door handing out care packages.
By now it was about 3pm, and all of our donations had been handed out and we were ready for some “world famous Michelbob ribs.” As God intended, we were seated next to a local pastor who had shared with us that he had a private jet packed with donations and had come to deliver supplies. Wow! After the Pastor left our waitress came to tell us that he had paid for all of our meals. That’s 11 volunteers who almost all ordered ribs. Only The Lord and that Pastor know how high that bill was. Our leader Farah, who had planned to pay for all of us out of her own pocket, was shocked and her jaw dropped to the floor. We were all shocked but knew just what to do. First, we prayed thanks and blessings over that Pastor. Secondly, we had to pay it forward and cover someone else’s tab in the restaurant and bless our amazing waitress, mother of 8, with a generous tip.
We drove home that evening really feeling the presence of God in our lives. The Holy Spirit guided us to exactly where we needed to go and God provided for us, like he always does.
Thank you for all of your prayers and donations, without you these outreaches wouldn’t have been possible. May the Lord richly bless you all and keep praying for Heaven Sent as we continue to be an example for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the community.