After two weeks break, school resumed on Monday, and I was definitely ready for it. It was great to see the children back again, excited about learning and ready to study. Books were borrowed and we settled back into the routine. I'll post more about school at another time.
Unfortunately life in Queensland was anything but routine. On Monday evening I arrived home to an inbox containing photos of flash flooding in Toowoomba. I decided to make a few phone calls, and the more I looked on-line and spoke with people at "home", the more devastated I felt. It wasn't a personal devastation, since as far as I know my house and belongings are all fine, but rather a sense of loss those who were personally affected. Through the week I watched and listened to events unfold in the South East corner of the state as well as the South West. I heard stories of amazing courage, and of the resilience of Queenslanders, and I heard stories that break my heart. People who have lost everything in terms of belongings, but a grateful to be alive.
As a friend in Japan blogged earlier this week, it is very hard to see such devastation and be able to do nothing to help, except pray. I was only 10 years old, and living in Townsville, when Brisbane last experienced floods of this proportion. I vaguely remember it being on the news and in the newspapers, but communication and the media in those days were very different to what they are now, and I was only a child, so it probably wasn't very real to me anyway. This time, I've seen what floodwaters can do first hand here in Phnom Penh, and how disgusting they very quickly become, and I think that has made me more aware of just how nasty the situation in Queensland is.
Having said that, as I have looked today at news reports, it has been encouraging to see the number of people who are volunteering to help with the clean up. Not everyone will be able to do that, but there are many who are. Let's praise God for them, and encourage them.
Last night as I was looking at some of the thousand or more photos posted on Facebook, there were two things which struck me. The first was the power of the water, and the second was that, even in the midst of the devastation, people were seeing and photographing and sharing beauty in the midst of destruction. Floods are not beautiful, but there is still much beauty in the world. If you are reading this, and have become, as I was beginning to, overwhelmed by all the negative aspects, please take some time to find something good to look at. Look at young people and not so young people pitching in to help with the clean up, without any expectations of "reward" aside from the intrinsic reward of knowing they have done the right thing. Look at nature, and in the weeks to come see how our amazing fauna and flora bounce back. Yes, it has been bad, and it will be tough going to a long time to come for many people, but God will use it for good, especially for those who love Him.
In conclusion, I have one more praise point, and it's a big one. I praise God that relatively few lives have been lost, and for the way everyone is working together to see Queensland overcome this blow!