A symbol of hope and a future

July 25, 2013

by Bruce Piercey, Eurasia Regional Director and Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Relief Volunteer Team Leader

Staff member Bruce Piercey shares his experience of helping flood victims at the Siksika Nation reserve

Last week, I volunteered at Siksika Nation, where flood waters from the Bow River overflowed their banks to wipe out people’s homes, belongings, and treasured possessions.

One woman stood by and watched as we tore out damaged walls and carried armloads of mud-soaked items from her house. We must have filled two dumpsters full of belongings that were completely destroyed.

But there were a few things that we were able to salvage; I observed from a distance as the woman sifted through a table covered with personal mementos. I found myself puzzled by her response.

Out of everything on the table, the woman began to weep when she uncovered a small, pink cloth. Her tearful response to finding what looked to me like a dish washing rag seemed strange—until she shared her story with me.

Several years before, the woman was struggling with breast cancer. Finally, she became so discouraged and weak that she was convinced that she would die. But in the midst of this woman’s fear, a friend came alongside her, giving her a pink cloth that symbolized courage, endurance, and hope. She survived the cancer.

Last week, as she overlooked her destroyed home and possessions, the woman again felt that she was facing one of her darkest days. Discouragement and hopelessness clung to her as she lost nearly everything she owned to the flood waters, and then to the mould.

But again, like so many years before, the woman found that pink cloth—a symbol of her ability to overcome adversity; a symbol of hope in the midst of crushing hopelessness.

This woman’s response to the flood is being reflected by countless Siksika people living in the Bow River valley. Grief and shock are emanating through the community, and there is a deep sense of loss—not so much of the things they have lost, but loss of the treasured memories and the history that attaches itself to these symbols of their lives. What has been lost is a part of their story, a part of their community history, and a part of themselves.

In the coming weeks, please lift up the Siksika people and all those devastated by the flooding in southern Alberta. May all whom we encounter come to know the Lord and his plans for them, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).