Month of Miracles for Families in the Middleton Church

For Tony and Liz Jarrett, it’s been a month of miracles. It all started on Aug. 1. They were living in an older mobile home and trying to save enough money to buy a house. They had purchased the mobile home they were living in and made the final payment in July, but were renting the space it was parked on in a small mobile home park in Middleton, Idaho.

It was very hot that week, and the window air conditioner in the living room had tripped the electrical breaker several times the day before. Liz said later that she had put the baby down in the back bedroom for her nap as usual right after lunch. Nineteen-month-old Emily had refused to settle down and go to sleep. She cried and screamed until Liz gave up and told her mother they might as well get her up and go shopping for school clothes for the two older children.

As they were getting into the car to go to town, 9-year-old Caleb decided his shorts were too dirty to wear to town and asked to go back into the house and change them. Seven-year old Alia was in the car, and Emily was already buckled into her car seat. Rather than have the rest of the family sit in the hot car and wait, Liz told him he would have to go the way he was.

As near as anyone can figure out it was about 10 minutes after the car pulled out from the driveway that the fire started. Tony’s mother, Sylvia, and stepfather David Carcich, had just eaten lunch and were relaxing at home, just a few doors down the street. They heard a report of a fire on their street over the police scanner when the neighbor across the street came over and pounded on their door. “Tony’s house is on fire,” he yelled. By the time they could get outside, the back half of the mobile home was fully engulfed, and huge flames licked out of the kitchen window and the back door.

A fire engine arrived on scene while they were still trying to determine if any of the family was at home. Sylvia called the sheriff’s dispatcher and asked them to call Tony at his job in Nampa, and then set about trying to locate Liz, her mother and the children. Unable to reach them, she gleaned information from other neighbors that indicated they all had left in the car together.

There was nothing to do now but wait and watch as the house continued to burn. The Star and Caldwell fire departments arrived to help battle the blaze, and they were able to protect the two neighboring mobile homes, although one of them sustained damage to a window and the skirting. The Jarrett’s home and its contents were a total loss.

Tony arrived and immediately met with fire investigators and the American Red Cross, taking comfort in the fact that no one was at home when the fire broke out. He was sure that it started in the breaker panel, just above the bed in the back bedroom. If the fire had started at night, he would have been sleeping directly below that panel. If Emily had been asleep in her crib, no one could have gotten to her by the time the fire would have been detected. And if Caleb had gone back inside to change his shorts, he might not have been able to get out in time.

When Liz and the rest of the family arrived, the fire was over and the fire trucks had all left. While shocked and horrified at the scene, she immediately expressed her praise to God for His protection. Members of the Middleton and Caldwell churches rallied around and held work bees to help clean up the devastation and to donate needed items. Lois Moore, director of the Caldwell Church Community Services, came out the evening of the fire with her husband and Tony’s dad, to offer help and comfort.

Tony’s older brother, James, had arrived back in the United States from Iraq four days before and was undergoing debriefing at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. His wife and children had left Middleton the week before to meet him at Fort Carson, and they were informed of the fire before the flames were out. James’ immediate response was to open his house in Middleton to his brother’s family for as long as necessary. James and his family arrived back in Middleton the following Friday and continued to share their home until Tony and his family were able to move into another mobile home the first of September.

The outpouring of gifts and donations from the community continues. The generosity of some donors has been so great that it has inspired this little family to overcome their natural shyness and share their praises and thanks during the worship service at the Middleton Church. They have a powerful testimony of God’s love and protection and are eager to share it. As Liz always reminds us, “There’s a reason for this.”

During the clean-up after the fire, all the family Bibles were found intact, although one of them was slightly scorched and had water damage. Firefighters had hauled a two-drawer filing cabinet outside during the fire, and most of their important papers were saved in it.

Shortly after the fire, Liz decided it was time for her to get a job. She had been a stay-at-home mom ever since the birth of Emily. Since she had experience as a motel housekeeper, she was quickly hired by the Shiloh in Nampa. During the time she wasn’t working, Liz had been taking Bible studies in preparation for joining the Adventist Church. When she was told she had the job, she hadn’t yet asked for Sabbaths off. Before she even thought of asking, her new supervisor told her she would have every Friday and Saturday off.

Truly, before we call God will answer. The same day Tony and Liz’s new landlord called to tell them they could move into their present home, Christi Jarrett was involved in a motor vehicle collision. While there was quite a bit of damage to her car, she and her two children were not injured.

So it’s been a month of miracles. Sgt. James Jarrett came home safely from Iraq, his wife and children were not injured in their accident, and Tony and Liz are praising the Lord every day for the safety of their entire family and the blessing he has poured out upon them in the aftermath of their fire. Truly, there is a reason for all of this.

November 01, 2005 / Idaho Conference