The road to Paradise is lined with burnt trees from fires past and present. The sky, which hasn't been seen for weeks, is full of wildfire smoke. The once beautiful colors of sunrise and sunset have been replaced with the traumatic memories sights, sounds and smells that came when their town burned down.
I imagined that wildfires covered the landscape like a blanket destroying everything in its path, but the unexplainable whim of the wind that carried fire to one neighbor's house without touching the next, left the people of Paradise reeling.
Paradise Lutheran Church was spared, but a few feet away its parsonage burned down. The first congregation to get their water back up and running, Paradise Lutheran has been feeding the hungry and housing those in need ever since.
The congregation converted its Sunday School classroom spaces into housing with shared kitchens and bathrooms. Three years after the Camp Fire, residents still have not received their settlements to help them rebuild or move back into permanent housing. So, Paradise Lutheran is again answering the call to love and support their neighbors.
Soon work will begin to build a 4 unit apartment on the property where their parsonage once stood. Not only is the project a part of their mission to care for those in need of housing, the income from the new units are expected to help their congregation have a surplus budget.
While the community continues to experience trauma from the fire, they also celebrate the ways their community and property have become more resilient. For example, fire damage to the roof of their classrooms and subsequent repairs from their insurance, made it possible for the congregation to add solar panels to the roof. The replacement of other items damaged by smoke also resulted in helping their buildings get up to code.
The members of Paradise Lutheran are rugged, faithful and mission centered examples of wellness and resiliency in our Synod. Please keep Paradise Lutheran in your prayers as they continue to recover.