April 14, 2008
This letter was written by a family in Pearlington as a thank you to the team that worked on their house in March.
We wanted to let you all know how very wonderful this week has been for all of us. I guess the best way to start is to tell you how we were prior to your arrival in our lives. Since August of 2005 myself and my family have lived with a wide variety of emotions, ranging from shock, disbelief, despair, grief, anxiety, fear and sorrow. Katrina not only devastated our home and community, but our day to day lives as well. We have never had to experience these feelings before the storm. We were all beginning to question if there would ever be an end to the emotional pain that the storm had brought to our lives. My family have always had faith and strength and a positive outlook until Katrina came crashing down on us. It seemed as if the hurricane was a “thief in the night” and robbed us not only of our home, but our faith as well. Each day we rise and wonder what part of depression we would feel for that day. The overwhelming feeling of uncertainty is a heavy burden to bear. It is hard to describe to you what it feels like to look into my children’s faces and no longer see a light in their young eyes and to know that they have not rested well since the storm. We can all say that we have truly learned the meaning of the word “weary.”
Since Monday, March 17th, things have begun to change. Because of your kindness, selflessness and the time that you all have given freely to come here and help work on our home to repair and restore it, I want to tell you what else you have helped to restore. For the first time in what seems like “forever”, myself and my family have some peace again. We are sleeping well at night again. We are not irritable and angry with each other and our home has the sound of laughter inside its walls again. There is a quiet calm here that has been missing for so long. As I walk around our house I catch myself smiling now. My boys are smiling and happiness has returned to their hearts. I do not have the words to express what your presence has done for us. Our lives no longer feel like a train wreck. We have been restored with hope and we have once again found our faith. God has always watched over us and blessed us beyond what we deserve and because of all of you we once again see and feel Him in our lives. No matter how many miles separate us, I know we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. My beloved grandmother always told me that “the Lord works in mysterious ways,” and she was right. Who would have ever thought that out of such devastation would come an unforgettable bond between strangers. We may not remember all of your names and you must forgive us for that, but we will always remember your faces and God’s grace in each and every one.
We once again want to thank all of you for all of your kindness to us, and the work, friendship, smiles and the fact that you listened to us and what we had to say at a very challenging time in our lives, is priceless. Not only did we learn about you, you taught us about ourselves and how to accept God’s grace in our lives.
May God bless you all and keep you forever in His grace and love.
With our heartfelt love and gratitude,
M, K, Wand J
Thank you team for doing more than just rebuiling a physical structure and for allowing God to use you in ways that go beyond the physical labor. That is what this ministry is all about – touching lives for the Kingdom of God. May God bless your efforts and those who follow in your footsteps.
April 14, 2008
Holy Week was unusually early this year and as such it overlapped with Spring Break for many colleges. Nine college students from the Twin Cities along with 4 not so recent college grads from BBC decided to spend this week in Pearlington, continuing the work many had started before us to help rebuild homes and lives after the devastation of Katrina. After circuitous travel we all met, some for the first time, on Monday morning in Pearlington to be assigned to our work project(s) for the week. The most common reaction from the team was if it has been two and a half years since the storm, why are things still in such need of repair and reconstruction? Like many newcomers to a situation, the questions seem short and easy but the answers are more lengthy and complicated. This situation brought to mind the central message of another ministry I love, “Putting the Last First.”
Monday morning of a new week brings a host of new, enthusiastic volunteers, which can be taxing for the small staff at the recovery center. An Illinois middle school group of 100 had arrived to help, teenagers that is, and they took priority as we patiently waited for them to get outfitted with tools and equipment and instructions for their jobs. This delay afforded us a time to get to know each other and in retrospect provided a good bonding base for the time we would all spend together in the week ahead. Our team of 13 was assigned to help a family of 4 (Mom, Dad and 2 teen age sons) who were living/camping in their house for the past 18 months. Their house was uninhabitable when they returned to Pearlington, 6 months after their evacuation from the storm. After a time in a FEMA trailer, don’t get them started on this, they built out their car port (24’ by 24’) and moved into it and started the process of rebuilding their house. Internally the house was destroyed, requiring all the sheetrock, insulation, flooring, plumbing and electrical to be torn out and rebuilt. The home exterior was a combination of brick and siding. A new roof had been completed but the soffit, fascia, siding and brick repair needed major work. Although they have made good progress, the family was very tired of “camping indoors”, living in a construction zone, the constant reminder of how much is yet to be done and the continual disruption to their lives.
We were greeted by a very surprised and grateful family. We got to work quickly and spent the next few days installing ceramic tile in a number of rooms, installing soffit and fascia all around the exterior as well as some brick repair and replacing siding where necessary. The family quickly joined in the work and helped us as needed in between their jobs and school responsibilities. It was especially good to hear their stories of the past months and to share a bit with them about us and why we had come. The crawfish season had just begun so the family hosted a huge dinner including crawfish, corn on the cob, potatoes and plenty of vegetables. We were clearly novices in the art of proper crawfish consumption but it made for many laughs. They thoroughly enjoyed “giving back” to us and it was a special time for them to show their gratitude. As we left at the end of the week, we were given a letter from the Mom that was very touching. As we read her sharing her heart and the impact we had made in their lives we were left by the thought that you simply can’t out give the Lord. When you serve Him, he gives back so much more. All in all a great trip, a number of new friendships were made and we trust God was glorified through the wonderful work of His body here on earth.
(This post written by T. Lehn, member of the latest team to Pearlington)