Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Precious Treasure

On September 13, 2008, a retired nurse named Precious Treasure Bacheller fell victim to the ravages of Hurricane Ike. Several feet of water destroyed most everything she owned.

“I didn’t know what a storm surge was,” said Bacheller. “But it came in from every direction.”

During the storm, Bacheller stayed in her Shore Acres home as she watched the water rise to her ankles, then her knees, and finally just above her waist.

Several months later, Bacheller had settled into her FEMA trailer on her property, but didn’t know how she would be able to repair her home until she encountered Rev. Mike Besson of St. John’s – La Porte.

“I walked into his freshly painted purple office, and I thought ‘this is different,” she said. “But then Father Mike started saying things that I felt. It’s hard to describe, but I felt like I was home.”

Bacheller said from that day on, she knew that she wanted to be a part of the church and mission of St. John’s.

“I just wanted to be a part of the community,” she said. “I told Father Mike that I would take all the help I could get, but if they couldn’t help me I wanted to volunteer.”

Bacheller spent much of her life caring for others as a hospice nurse. An incredibly caring heart led her to request AIDS patients when everyone else was afraid to do so. Outside of her FEMA trailer, more than a dozen cats gather for food as she can’t stand to let one go hungry. Every day for much of her life, she prayed and cared for the needy, but after Ike, she was the one in need.

Texas Episcopal Disaster Relief and Development was there to step in and support the repair of her home through volunteer labor and donations for materials. And in April St. John’s began working with TEDRD to repair damaged homes in the La Porte and Shore Acres communities in an effort they dubbed “Mission on the Bay.”

Construction Foreman, Sam Glass, led the relief work with the help of more than 100 volunteers from St. John’s alone. Over the summer, youth groups from around the country and weekend crews from Houston helped repair more than 40 homes, including Bacheller’s.

“I’ve been so blessed seeing the young adults work together and be so selfless,” she said. “I have sheets of paper with everyone’s name and email addresses so that I can thank and update them.”

Groups of volunteers left notes of encouragement all around her house as they steadily made repairs. One youth group of volunteers wrote “We love you Precious” on a piece of sheet rock and presented it to her. She plans on framing all of her keepsakes when she gets a chance.

“When they would leave, I would read all of it and cry,” she said. “But I think it was a good cry.”

Despite the fact that her home and belongings were destroyed and vandalized, Bacheller says all of it has changed her life for the better.

“Material stuff doesn’t really matter to me anymore,” she said. “My values have changed. You realize what is really important.”

As repairs on her home began, Bacheller started to attend services at St. John’s, and then she started confirmation classes. Just a few days before the anniversary of Hurricane Ike, Bacheller was officially confirmed in the church.

“My experience has been a wonderful one,” she said. “Sometimes I’m in awe. I’m so very proud to be a part of the church and say this is my family.”

Through the efforts of TEDRD and St. John’s, countless individuals have been touched by the caring hearts of volunteers and the enduring spirit of the La Porte and Shore Acres communities.

“Precious has been a true light to our church and her testimony of survival has inspired us all,” said Besson. “She truly is a "precious treasure" here; one of the good things that happened to us after Ike.”

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