Angels in Blue Jeans

February 01, 2008 | Liesl Vistaunet

Mrs. Waters, a resident in Vernonia, (Ore.) was up to her knees in water when the flood waters came to her small town.

Volunteers have been swarming the town since, including more than 125 Portland Adventist Academy (PAA) juniors and seniors.

On Dec. 11, 2007, several PAA teachers and staff took the students to flood-ravaged Vernonia for volunteer day in conditions requiring waterproof clothing, face masks and, in some cases, protective jumpsuits.

The jobs were dirty, and it was very cold. "But I don't think I heard one complaint," says Greg Phillips, PAA chaplain. "The kids were His hands and feet, so to speak." The staff observed how remarkably sensitive the students were to the families they were helping. "The lady we helped, Deanne, seemed really reserved and shy," says Holly Long, PAA senior. "But I would be too if there were strangers in my home tearing down my walls."

PAA students not only helped families who lost everything, but they also heard their stories. While one group was ripping out sopping wet insulation from a crawl space, the homeowner was told her home had to be torn down to the studs. She had only owned her home for one year. "I felt really bad for them," says Amelia Gradt, PAA junior.

Jim Robertson, Bible teacher, took nine boys to Mrs. Waters' home. After the boys spent the day gutting her crawl space, Mrs. Waters told Robertson, "Your kids are like angels in blue jeans."