(L-R: Jazmin (14), Niashia (13), family member (?), Shakara (9), Amunya (15), Nadia (10) & in bottom row)
As many of you know, our community is dealing with the loss of four beautiful children (Jazmin, Niashia, Amunya, and Nadia). They were coming home from Memorial Day festivities when the tread separated from their tire and they lost control of the car. Eleven lives were in that vehicle. Three died at the scene. One died at the hospital. One is in critical care and the rest have minor injuries. Miraculously, one of the passengers, a three-year-old, was thrown thirty feet from the car, over the interstate sound barrier, and survived only breaking a leg and a few other minor injuries. Yesterday their mother, the driver, said good morning to five beautiful daughters and today she said good morning to one.
It’s the kind of story that you see in movies or that happens to “other” people. But now it’s not. Now it’s our community and our loved ones in crisis. We feel the pain. We take the loss.
When I saw Niashia, Jazmin, and Amunya’s faces show up on my feed with the article of the accident at 7am, I was in shock. I refreshed. And refreshed. And refreshed again. I could barely get their names out of my mouth to tell Chris. I kept thinking to myself, “this can’t possibly be true…. I just saw them Wednesday.” I got a call at work saying Nadia passed at the hospital. My day was spent trying to process the loss. I did not want to be at work. I wanted to be at the hospital. If I was hurting, how much more is their mother? If I was angry, how much more is their father?
Situations like this really put in perspective how in a moment, all can be lost. One minute you’re singing songs in the car and the next you’re checking for pulses and listening to cries. It’s a reminder that our days are not promised and our loved ones are not ours. I don’t understand this but I don’t blame God, even though it would be easy. As difficult as it is to accept, this is (somehow) in His plan. I don’t believe God wanted this to happen and yet I know God could have prevented it.
The Cruz girls hold a very special place in my heart. I remember the first time I met them. It was during a Wednesday night service and they all looked shy and out of place. But slowly, they opened up and we saw them in raw form. Each so different and yet they were all so close. I love them like I love Addison and I wish for Shakara, the remaining sister, to be with me so that I can hold her close and tell her I love her. I wish that God would let me take her pain. I wish that I could carry her burden. But I can’t.
When I think about the Cruz girls, the first word that comes to mind is faithful. They were always faithful. Faithful to eachother. Faithful to the church. No matter what their situation seemed to be or what was going on in their personal lives, they were always faithful. Even when they got kicked off the bus for a week for talking back or fighting or whatever it was that week, they always came back. They always returned with a smile on their face and we would always greet them with open arms.
And I don’t know when we will see Shakara on the bus again, but I’m hopeful that she will come back soon. And when she does, we will greet her with open arms and lots of love.
Like these girls did, we serve a faithful God. Even when we get mad at Him, kick Him out, scream at Him, or whatever it is that week, He is still faithful to us and still greets us with love. It’s my prayer, and I know the prayers of others, to see revivial here in Leesburg. So many people are depressed, hurting, lost, distressed, and empty. Like we’ve experienced, death is swift. We do not have any garauntees here on earth.
There is a plan greater than us and our miniscule understanding of it. One thing I am amazed at is the amount of people rallying for this family. I mean, I’ve seen the church do this before but I have never seen our entire community grieve together and encourage eachother in the way it has today. The local news has been filled with violence and disunity between neighborhoods and families recently and it is more than beautiful to see us coming together in a time of great loss. It’s a joy to be part of a communty that takes what life hands it and becomes stronger.
It’s my prayer those girl’s faithfulness would be an example of what we need to do now more than ever. Even though we are grieving, even though we’re angry, we have a faithful and loving God. We have a Savior who will make our burden light. We may not be able to control our earthly destiny but we can control our spiritual one. We all have a choice to turn from our sins and turn to Christ. We have a choice in how we act and react to what goes on around us. We don’t have to endure this alone, we can stand together with Christ.
Please donate to this family. They are looking at $50k for the medical and burial expenses. If you can’t get to a local WellsFargo in Lake County, please donate to their gofundme.