Challenges take place in everyone’s lives. Some take the form of small events, while others wreak havoc leaving ashes and sorrow in their wake.
Here is the story of what happened to my friends Al and Margo this week.
There was a birthday celebration for Margo last Sunday night with family gathered in Al and Margo’s living room…there was love, laughter and fun shared by everyone. One of their sons and his family were there, along with their daughter and her family. Six adults and 6 little girls all celebrating Grandma’s big day.
Little did they know there was a chimney/attic fire starting above their heads.
The fire wasn’t discovered until the party broke up and the families were headed home. A telltale light in the attic alerted them to the fire…you see, there is no electricity in the attic. 911 was called, and thankfully, the family was able to get some of their photos and valuables out.
It became more tumultuous from there.
It took 40,000 gallons of water from local fire departments to finally put the fire out. The main floor was still in place, with what was left of the ceiling edges sagging down. The structure and it’s contents were waterlogged and frozen. You see, here in Ely, Minnesota, the daytime temps were below zero with a windchill sometimes hitting -26.
On Monday, family and friends salvaged Al and Margo’s washer and dryer, bed frames, some clothing from the front closet (that the fire hadn’t touched), and some more family photos.
On Monday night, the fire roared again…leaving just a pile of ashes in it’s wake.
On Tuesday, their daughter Mistaya commented “God gave us a window of time so we could salvage more items.”
On the night of the fire, the shock and stress brought on a health crisis for Margo. After many tests and 2 days in the hospital, the doctor told her she could go ‘home’. On her Facebook page, she wrote:
“Fire has taken my (our) house, we lost so much but some treasures were rescued by an army who came alongside my children, as I experienced broken heart syndrome and was admitted to the ICU in St. Marys while the fire burned down my (our) home. A couple days later, it gave a new meaning to “You can go home today, Margo.” Upon being discharged from the hospital it became the ultimate test of the truth that I know ~ my true home, my forever home is my Fortress & my Habitation: my God.”
As you can see by the testimony Margo gave and by the words of their daughter, this couple’s (and all of their children’s) faith shines brightly. Al and Margo are the very meaning of the words: loving, faith-filled, humble. This is not a couple that believes in excess…they’re priority is not in earthly goods. They also don’t want to ask for more than they need as witnessed by the low amount of money the family is asking for on the ‘Youcare’ site (shown below). This will not build a new house, this will not even cover their second mortgage, nor will it replace their household goods, but they didn’t want to ask for too much. Many locals have offered goods and services, but Al and Margo want to wait to see what they really need. (Building cannot begin until Spring because of our frozen winter.) Local businesses have been very gracious, thoughtful and generous by giving gift cards to help.
More in Margo’s words:
“I (we) do need help…especially if we are to rebuild and continue our hobby or if I may, our ministry, with Boundary Waters Labradors (AKC certified) as our insurance was extremely minimal, covering one mortgage loan only…and this is why I have turned it over. I have to Let Go and Let God. Romans 8: 28 is what I am holding onto. He will meet that need, as He sees fit. It’s time for new beginnings, even though; my husband and I are 40 years strong, plus I am in the 60 and over club now, both by His grace.
I am (we are) grateful and amazed at how much God loves me (us) and manifests His love for me (us) through his creations – you. What an awesome feeling to be shown so much care and kindness by so many people! May He bless each and every one of you three hundred fold for your prayers, and gifts. I am (we are) humbled beyond expression.”
And here is where I ask for your help…
Click on the link below and feel the blessing of helping others. Give if you can. Any amount helps…$5, $50, $500. Even if you can’t donate money, I ask that you keep them in your prayers this holiday season.
Fundraiser for Al and Margo Penke
Thank you for your help…and as you walk through the cold and the fire…look up. It is by His grace and presence that we move beyond them.
Photo Credit: Cheri Debeltz