Story and photo by Steven Starr
Jennie Peterson suddenly smiled as she walked through the ashes of her father’s cabin in Ruidoso, New Mexico. The Little Bear Fire had destroyed so much, but Peterson was able to find figurines of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in the remains that day.
“Every year we had them on the mantle at Christmas,” she said.
Although the discovery brought Peterson a moment of delight, she was still devastated by all of the destruction she saw.
“My father built this cabin 60 years ago, and I had hoped to retire here,” she said.
The cabin was a part of the Angus Church of the Nazarene retreat grounds, where Samaritan’s Purse is stationed for this disaster response. Peterson and her father were leading our assessment team through the remains of their cabin on Wednesday.
Thursday morning, volunteers will use the assessment map of the cabin to search and sift through the ruins for additional family treasures and belongings. Peterson hopes they find her mother’s heirloom wedding ring. She showed the team the spot in the ashes where it was kept in a dresser.
“My mother died last year and we had her funeral in the chapel across the street,” Peterson said.
Brent Graybeal, program manager in New Mexico, said that this response in New Mexico has been slow to get off the ground because of safety precautions, but he has seen God working in every event. More than anything, the homeowners are in need of encouragement and prayer right now.
“Finding Mary and Joseph put a smile on her face that I not seen earlier,” Graybeal said.
“God is in the details and we are continuing to trust him.”