Fires in Paradise [11/14/18]
Hi church family,
I know many of you have been shocked and heart broken by the stories of the Camp Fire. Please know, that "I thank my God every time I remember you". We feel the love, support and prayers.
My Family's Camp Fire Story:
My family (my parents, sister, and our two exchange students) have lived in 3 different homes since Thursday. Others from my church family had similar experiences, sleeping in their cars, I've seen people in tents, many in motels as far as Redding. My dad was at work when the fire began to spread, my mom, sister, and our two exchange students were getting ready for the day. Evacuations have happened before in Paradise. In 2008, we had a full day to pack things. The 2018 Camp Fire 'warning' happened for my family when my mom dropped off our exchange students to catch the local Butte Community College bus at the bus stop in Paradise. There was ash everywhere and they had difficulty breathing. The bus driver told them the buses were not running any more. The bus driver seemed apprehensive about the fire. My mom had the girls pack a bag and started putting our photo albums in the car. The sky became black and my mom got a text from a lady from our church saying they were leaving, they live a half mile from us. My mom and my sister drove separately and drove down a side road that leads to Highway 99 and it took them an hour to get to Chico (it usually takes 20 minutes). They were so thankful to not be threatened by the fire. Many people would go down that road an hour later surrounded by flames. Thankfully my family left before that, but many families from my church experienced rushing into their car and driving a mile toward the main road, which took 4 hours. Many had flames surround them. Two families from my church told me they sang worship songs, read scripture, prayed, told their kids they loved them and prepared for the worst. Thanks be to God those families made it out, but many have similar stories who did not make it out. My heart grieves for them. At this time all of our Ridge church family is accounted for and we praise God for our safety.
Where we are now:
At this time my family is financially stable. My parents lost our family home. I have my apartment in Chico so they were able to stay with me the first night of the Fire. We are among the fortunate people who have family in the area. Also, several of our church families from Chico have left early for Thanksgiving. They have offered up their homes to several Paradise families as temporary housing. We are staying across the street from the Condits (a family from our church who we have been close to since the birth of their oldest son James who was born with Spina Bifida). Every moment is filled with decisions and shock and praise. Lots of emotions going on over here, but in it all we are reminded that life and things are temporary and community, Christ, and family are so precious and needed. As an old hymn states: "On Christ the solid rock we stand, all other ground is sinking sand."
How to help:
I have gotten so many texts asking about ways to help. Honestly, the need is overwhelming. People have been donating clothing, which is SO helpful, but we don't have a place for all the stuff. Don't get me wrong, we WILL need those things in the months to come as each family finds more permanent living places, but right now there is no space. SO what is helpful right now? I have been telling people to send me gift cards (Winco, Trader Joes, Costco, Safeway, Target, Wal Mart) so I can give them to people in from Paradise Church and the surrounding community (1454 Sheridan Ave., apt 3, Chico, CA 95926). But below our Pastor sent a link where you can give directly to our church and below that our links to specific families in our congregation. Give as you are lead. Also, please pray. Pray for wisdom for our school district in Chico to support Paradise families and Paradise district. Pray for those who have no job at this time, that they would find jobs easily. Pray for housing, that the city of Chico would create long lasting solutions. Pray for patience for all involved as this is not a problem that will be quickly remedied.
Financial Donations for Fire Relief:
From our Pastor Josh: "I wanted to let y'all know that we have just today established a Fire Relief Fund accessible through the Ridge Presbyterian website. I have been getting a lot of requests for info of how to give through our church, and perhaps you have too. You can let people know that this is now available through our giving page online. Here is the direct link: https://ridgepresbyterian.org/camp-fire/ "
The Matoguinas: Recently married, Lauren came home with baby Malachi the day before the fire. They lost everything. You can donate on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/donate/343255522915736/10156088900880186/
The Condit Family: have three boys. There oldest James (12 years old), has spina bifida, I used to babysit him when I lived in Paradise:
The Wrights: have kids the same ages as my nephews and are good friends with my brother and sister-n-law:
So much love to you all,