Mississippi Missions Trip.

April 27, 2008

Most of an email I sent out a week or so ago . . . :]

“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”
(2 Corinthians 4:5)

A few weeks ago, from March 23rd – March 29th, I went with my church team to Bay St. Louis & Waveland, Mississippi. We went to help rebuild what Hurricane Katrina (one of the deadliest, most destructive hurricanes in the history of the U.S.) destroyed in 2005.

It’s been almost three years since the hurricane, but they’re still struggling to piece their lives together again.

New Orleans, Louisiana (In Brief)

My dad & I flew out to Gulfport, Mississippi one day early with another family from our church. We drove about an hour southwest & spent a day in New Orleans. As we were crossing the bridge into New Orleans, we couldn’t believe how much of the city was still in ruins.

We were planning to celebrate Resurrection Sunday at a church in New Orleans. We found a church in the New Orleans Yellow Pages, but a 2.5 mile walk later, when we finally arrived there, the church was deserted & damaged.

The church had flood damage, & like many of the buildings in New Orleans, it seems that the building was torched sometime after Hurricane Katrina. (People were unable to collect flood insurance because the insurance companies told them the damage was “hurricane damage”, so many torched the buildings in an [unsuccessful] attempt to then collect from fire insurance.)

We called & even received an inviting answering machine message before we left for the church. I guess they just forgot to say they relocated :]

Lagniappe: Just a “Little” More, the “Extra Mile”

We stayed in bunkhouses at Lagniappe Presbyterian Church, a church that was started up after the hurricane. The church building used to be a lumber yard, but it was rebuilt after the hurricane to function as a “hub” for restoration efforts.

Lagniappe runs non-stop. Full-time volunteers live at the church & go out daily to build & help the people of Bay St. Louis & Waveland. Other volunteers (like our team) stream in & out, usually staying a week or two at a time.

Lagniappe Church.

To the right, our bunkhouses all lined up.

Hurricane Katrina’s Trail

Lagniappe took a survey of the area’s needs, & the overwhelming, number one need people voiced was for mental health. They’re lost & hurting.

After Hurricane Katrina passed through, almost all that was left of Bay St. Louis & Waveland were the buildings’ foundations. For some homes, even the foundations didn’t withstand the hurricane.

The foundation to what was once a home.

All that’s left of this bank is the inner vault where the money was kept.

Most of the work is new construction, not repair, because in most cases, there was nothing left to repair.

Stairs that once led to a home? A church? A school?

This was an oak tree that saved four lives. Four people held on for their lives as the hurricane passed over. One of the women who held onto this tree currently volunteers at Lagniappe Church. She had a broken arm but still held on as rubble, pets, & human body parts washed past her. The tree is now dead, but a local artist carved some of the branches in the shape of an angel. (My intent isn’t to read into what happened, but I just want to point out an interesting correlation: a tree marked with death, saving those who clung/cling to it.)

Our Part in the Restoration

It was humbling, in a sweet way, to find out that our church team would be just one of the many coming to serve the people of Mississippi. We couldn’t be expected to do everything in a week, but we were a small part of the bigger picture of His people there, laboring in love. We worked on finishing two homes. I was on the “floor” team!

In Mississippi, it seems that your hometown is more than just where you live. It’s where you run around with friends during your childhood. It’s probably where your parents spent their childhood, too, and your grandparents. It’s where you work your first job. It’s where you marry. It’s where you have your children. It’s where your children settle & have their children. Now, imagine all of that leveled to the ground in ruins.

Larry (the man in the photo) was the future owner of one of the homes we were working on. He was one of those “hometown” Mississippians who lost everything. Since the hurricane, he’s lived in a trailer given to him by the government.

We met him on our second day on the work site (i.e., his home-to-be). When he saw that about half our team consisted of junior high, high school, and college students who chose to come & serve him during their spring break, he began to tear up. He said he couldn’t understand why they would do that.

He joined us one evening on the beach as we were debriefing. He brought his childhood friend, Frank, with him, too. After debriefing, some of us were able to really talk with Larry.

He said that after the hurricane, the people who continued to come & serve them & love them were the people of Christ’s church. Frank agreed. People came from all over the country, & some even from other countries, but the common denominator between all of them was their love for Christ, & hence, their compassion for the broken. Praise God.

Final pictures

Getting ready to lay down some hardwood flooring!

I got to hold a baby alligator! His mouth is open because he’s trying to bite me! (My dad’s in the background.)

With some of our church girls at Sonic’s, where the servers really bring your food (to your table or to your car) on rollerskates!


One Response to “Mississippi Missions Trip.”

  1. listingservices Says:

    I was in New Orleans 23 days after the hurricane disaster, ant it did not look that good ! Thank You for be Part of The angels legion !
    Thats How we should call People Like You!! Viva New Orleans!
    caffe the Mundy best coffe place in the world!!!

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