Love in Action
Report from Florida, USA
Rendering Aid Brings Joy to Victims
On the second day of the relief mission, after loading a new batch of items, the team drove to Clewiston, another severely affected town in South-central Florida near Lake Okeechobee. After receiving tips from local residents and law enforcement officials, the team members found two devastated mobile home parks located along State Route 27, where the inhabitants were in great need of supplies, especially water and ice. As the initiates prepared to go to yet another hurricane ravaged site a few blocks away, Tropical Island Park, a woman in a passing car blocked the team’s access to the main road and desperately shouted, “I’ve been without food for days. Can you help me get food?” Of course, the brothers and sisters then quickly attended to her needs before moving on to their destination.
Momentarily stopping on the shoulder of the road before entering Tropical Island Park, the initiates were awed by the sight of the devastated community. Then, after warmly greeting each home owner in the Park, they hurriedly dispensed the relief supplies. One Park resident was so touched at seeing the team members bringing him his share of Master’s gifts that he said in disbelief, “Wow, you’re the first ones that have ever come here! I appreciate it very much!”
Next, with not much time left to complete their work in the area, the team sped to Palm Beach where two local initiates joined the group for the distribution effort at another damaged mobile home park. As the sisters and brothers approached the community, an elderly woman ran toward them crying out with excitement and tears in her eyes, “Oh my God! You must have come here as my angels! Thank you! Thank you! Oh, my God!” The woman then hugged a brother and continued thanking him repeatedly. Also, one man reiterated the words of the Tropical Island Park victim, but with more urgency: “We’ve been waiting for help from someone, but nobody has come. You’re the first ones that have come to help us.” Another woman at first refused the initiates’ assistance, but quickly changed her mind after learning that The Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association always distributes aid free of charge. The relief convoy then moved on to another mobile home park where thousands of people were waiting, and before long relief packages were distributed to those most in need.
Then, while driving home after completing the relief project in Palm Beach, the initiates stopped at a place where thousands of needy farmers had been devastated by the storm. And although it was getting dark, people of all ages lined up patiently to receive their shares of the supplies. After this last stop, the team members drove home late, but felt overjoyed knowing that due to Master’s gifts of love many others were just as happy as they were.
On the third and final day of the relief effort, despite their physical weariness, the initiates remained mentally strong and determined to help more hurricane victims. So after loading their truck with more water, ice and other supplies, they headed onto State Route 80 toward the hard-hit town of Belle Glade southeast of Lake Okeechobee, making their first stop at a place where countless homes had been severely damaged or completely destroyed by the storm. The victims gladly received the relief materials and showed their sincere appreciation either with words or simply by their happy expressions. Then a local woman directed the team to a mobile home park half a mile down the road, saying, “You’d better go there now because the people there need more help than we do,” which moved the initiates to leave quickly.
Then as they turned into the street leading to the above-mentioned area, a view of widespread devastation affirmed the woman’s words. And as soon as the victims saw the relief team, they eagerly formed a long line to receive their share of Master’s gifts. Next, as the line grew the brothers and sisters worked frantically to get the relief supplies ready for distribution. Upon seeing an old man sitting alone, the initiates asked him about his situation and he replied, “My mobile home lost its entire roof during the storm.” The man also echoed the remarks of other victims discussed earlier, saying, “You’re the first to render help here and so far it’s the best!” Another elderly man uttered these sincere words of appreciation to a brother when he helped him carry his bulky relief supplies all the way to his mobile home: “You’re the nicest people I’ve met for a long, long time!”
During the relief distribution, a police helicopter circled the sky above the park for a few minutes and then suddenly three police cars moved in to seal the entrance road of the park. One officer asked the team members if everything was going OK, and when they told him that people there were cooperative and under control, he nodded, indicating his sense of relief. Two officers then quickly left the scene leaving behind only one with his patrol car to watch the remaining relief activities. When the initiates were about to finish up for the day, a brother thanked him for coming to help, and he responded earnestly, “No, thank you for coming to help the people here. You’ve done a great job!” The officer also suggested calling the local sheriff’s department the next time there was a disaster so that they could help the initiates locate the victims more efficiently.
Of all their Hurricane Wilma relief work, this last distribution project made the greatest impression on the initiates because as they drove home in the dark of night they knew in their hearts that those who had received Master’s love and material help felt truly blessed and happy as a result of their efforts. The relief team members are thus deeply grateful to our beloved Master for giving them this rare opportunity to extend help to their fellow human beings.♥