That was just one of the lessons Reverend Lorelle Chapman shared last Sunday at Taupō's St Paul's Union Church about disaster recovery chaplaincy in the heart of the New South Wales bush fires.
With a prior tenure in the Pilbara in the Australian outback, Rev Lorelle knows about bush fires.
"But in the Pilbara, they burn out in the desert."
From that role Lorelle was still on the list of the Uniting Church Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network, and despite having moved to take up the St Paul's position in Taupō, she didn't think twice when called up.
Her first few days were in Bondi, Sydney, at the central hub for the Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy network, where they had to stay inside due to the smoke haze. Rev Lorelle was appointed team leader of her group who were all sent off to individual locations. Clothing was issued: jeans, boots, gloves, fire resistant clothing, high viz vests and a cap.
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"The entire kit was to be worn at all times, in 40 degree heat."
Rev Lorelle's destination was Kempsey, a small town of 15,000 people, a 45-minute drive north of Port Macquarie. Indigenous people live on the fringes of town, and many people lived rurally, in small off-the-grid farms.
"In the New South Wales fires, 750 homes have been lost, 2.7 million hectares of land burnt. Precious koalas and birdlife lost in the unsurvivable fires. And people have become refugees in their own communities."
Rev Lorelle says disaster recovery chaplaincy is a specialised ministry and requires training.
"I see myself as a spiritual caregiver or a soul doctor. Just being there for another person who is experiencing complex trauma and fear. Providing emotional and spiritual support, we live out what it means to be the spiritual hands and feet of Christ."
She says ultimately her goal was to empower the people she encountered, so they can tap into their inner state and restore their equilibrium. Waiting at the Community Evacuation Centre in the Kempsey Showgrounds, Rev Lorelle says many people were in total ignorance about the fire bearing down on them.
One couple in their 80s had three minutes to collect their belongings before being removed by ground crew. With a flash fire bearing down on their home, another couple were alerted to the danger by a long horn blast from a helicopter tracking the fire.
"They were evacuated with fire appliances at the front and rear, with frequent stops to clear fire from the road. They had no idea about the danger they were in."
Accommodation was provided by a local motel, but each day these people would gather at the evacuation centre, to wait. Some of them had been waiting for weeks.
She accompanied the couple in their 80s back to their farm. Remarkably the fire had stopped and split 15m in front of their house and it was intact. The rest of the farm was ground zero - black, burnt earth.
"There had been no power for weeks. I helped them clean out their freezer. It wasn't a job for the faint hearted."
A notice in a shop window read 'People who have pets with burnt paw pads can take them to the veterinarians around the corner'.
The various agencies coming together was a mammoth but slick operation to work with those affected by fires, with support at each step of the way for the aid workers and for those who had lost their homes and livelihoods.
She says there were many lessons to be learned from her experience, other than that bees were attracted to emergency wear. The main lesson was "to discover and live your best life".
On Sunday, Rev Lorelle said prayers for Samoa, Australia and Aotearoa. She said Advent is traditionally a season of hope, but this advent has been punctuated with disaster.
"Love can change the world forever. We need to think: what actions can we take to reach out to others in need?"