Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Katrina Relief Report

Well, I've almost managed to catch my breath if not my sleep after the week-long trip to Bay St. Louis, MS to help rebuild homes destroyed by Katrina. A dozen of us from church left on April 8th and returned April 15th. We engaged in all kinds of construction/rebuilding projects. One team of four wound up painting the interior of 4 different homes in as many days. Two of our number worked in the kitchen to feed the 180+ volunteers from such diverse places as Miami; Oak Grove, VA; Sumter, SC; and Greensboro, NC to name just some of the places of origin. The other 6 of our group at times worked as one team and at times split into 2 groups of 3 as they worked on sheetrocking, mudding, and finishing walls in 3 different homes. Everyone whose home we worked in had a story to tell of how they survived the storm or what they found when they returned home after evacuating elsewhere. It was therapeutic for them to share their story and we did our best to empathize and encourage as we worked. The overwhelming response of the residents of Waveland and Bay St. Louis to our presence there was one of extreme gratitude. Even total strangers would approach us on the street and ask if we were volunteers. When we replied that we were, they thanked us profusely for coming down to help them.

Pictures don't do justice to the level of destruction suffered along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It will be years before the area is back to normal, but over and over again the folks expressed their appreciation for Christians and especially Baptists who were laboring in their hometowns to help them get back to normal.

We spent our last day working on the home of a lady who is dying of cancer and wants to go home to die. Several other groups have been pitching in to help her as well. A huge thanks goes to FBC of Bay St. Louis for their generous spirit in hosting such huge numbers of volunteers and for putting the needs of their community ahead of even their own church repairs. Thanks too go out to Georgia Baptists who are helping to staff the office and coordinate the efforts of so many volunteers. The Lord will certainly take note of your sacrificial efforts.

2 comments:

GuyMuse said...

Good report! Glad you had such a meaningful trip. One question I have sought to find in all of the Katrina reports is how has this affected people spiritually? Having lost physically, has this impacted for them seeking God, or has it turned them away? Or are people basically still indifferent about spiritual things? Just curious!

Gary Snowden said...

Guy,

Like the population at large and like the response to Paul's preaching in Athens, I think the answer to your question is a mixed bag. I did observe among many and the pastor of the FBC there confirmed that there is a heightened commitment to Christ on the part of many who have returned. Others I think are very wrapped up in the day-to-day struggle of trying to move out of a FEMA trailer and back into their home. What I did hear time and again was expressions of gratitude from those we were helping for the work of volunteers from the churches. What the government and other agencies have been unable or unwilling to do, ordinary Christians are accomplishing as they give of their time, money, and energy to help people rebuild their homes and their lives.