Mercy House Toys for Christmas

Christmas decorations, toys, and winter clothes fill the Mercy House this week as we celebrate the holiday season in Lakeshore. Every Wednesday, from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm we open to the public, to assist families in need, with clothes, food, household items, and whatever else gets donated to the ministry. This past week we included “Christmas stuff” and folks were lined up out to the street to get in.

One lady went out of her way to thank me. She said her son was so happy. Not because the gifts were for him, they wern’t. The toys were for a friend who’s family was going through a hard time. The mom said that he was so afraid his friend would not have anything under his tree. Now he will. “You just made his Christmas,” she said.

Paula and Georgia, from Maryland, have been hard at work sorting through the warehouse where toys have been collected for this time of year. They have made nearly a dozen trips down the the coast in the last decade and have become part of our family. We can’t thank them enough for their generosity, hard work, encouragement, and desire to serve to the glory of God.

Last weekend, Pastor Randy Davis and his wife came down from Hazlehurst, MS to work with Mrs. Bea. The Davis Family has been long term partners with Rebuild Lakeshore. We praise the Lord for them.

I can’t even begin to list all the locals who help sort clothes, stock shelves, and perform other tasks that make this mercy ministry a wonderful success, week after week. I do need to give a big special thanks to Mrs Ruth and Kim who faithfully assist Mrs. Bea every Wednesday. Without them, we could not do this.

The Lord allows us to show these tangible acts of mercy all year round. The task gets overwhelming at times, but folks like Paula, Georgia, the Davis Family, and countless others who come down, stay in our bunk house, and work along side of Lakeshore Baptist Church, makes it such a joy. Rebuild Lakeshore is a great mission trip for individuals, families, youth groups, Sunday School classes and churches. If you would like to come, we can always use your help. You can make a real difference in peoples lives. Merry Christmas!

Memories of Lakeshore

I love receiving emails from folks who came to Lakeshore years ago and still remember their experience. “Timmy P.” sent me this in the middle of the night. I praise the Lord when I hear someone speak of their time in Lakeshore, over a decade ago now, as the most humble, proud, and fulfilling moments” of their life. May God receive the glory.

Good day Pastor Don,

I have zero idea what compelled me to write this or even start researching lakeshore as I was trying to sleep (failing miserably at that obviously)… I came with Mike Deese and the group from Crosspointe Community Church in Roswell Georgia, just minutes outside of Atlanta. I remember so many details vividly. That Thanksgiving was our first of two trips (Christmas was trip 2) . It was such an amazing time for us as volunteers, to be able to give in any way we could. The bonding that took place I know I’ll never forget and can never be taken away from me. As we got closer we knew what lied ahead of us, but nothing could prepare us for how bad it really was. The drive down the freeway and seeing cars 20 feet in the air up in the trees. Boats and houses as well. It was so unbelievable, it was almost like we were in a dream.

But crossing that hump (maybe railroad tracks?) and once the truck crested and came over that little hill there was a little excitement. The kids knew we we were close to the ocean so they wanted to see the water, but ALL we saw was foundation slabs where houses once laid. All the way down to the shoreline slab slab and more slabs. I don’t remember how many houses or portions of were left. Just trailers here and there and then your makeshift church, with sleeping quarters near.

I remember meeting you and you were excited and energetic about helping and even sort of happy. You were so focused on rebuilding the church and giving the local people, your friends and family, a place to return to for fellowship, worship, and providing hope.

I remember the sadness over a lot of folks. Myself included… Seeing the markings on houses that we knew meant deceased. When we were at the school giving out food and clothing, and people asking for two of something instead of one because they were helpless, hopeless, and scared. The time I spent there was personally the most humble, proud, and fulfilling moments of my life. 37 years old and it still holds true today.

I’ve cc:ed Mike Deese on this as well, but I just came across my old camcorder (remember those? When was the last time you saw one of those? Our phones are now our cameras.) with pics and videos of him, his family, and the one he will remember the most, because I betcha he still has a pretty scar on his knee. A utility truck hit a lower power cable and a transformer fell to the ground with an awful light show. Mike took a spill and gave himself a nice gash. Everyone headed back to Atlanta. We headed to the hospital. (I just chuckled a little) . Mike wasn’t gonna miss out though. He had his wife pick up some soft shelled crab and smuggle them in, and I got chick FIL A. And I’m rambling. . . Ill forward the Pics tomorrow.

But I’ve read about the complications with your eye site. And the Gulf oil spill. And there you are still not giving up and making the best out of things and you are still preaching. It’s amazing, sir. I look up to you for that. I feel like you have a lot more facial hair than you did back then though.

Christmas was a second trip and we brought 8, I believe, prefabbed staircases for people who couldn’t easily get in and out of their FEMA trailers. I remember how grateful everyone was both trips. Truly amazing.

Again, I don’t know why I started typing, but I’m glad I did. Keep on doing what you do sir. It’s motivation for someone who never lost all that you have, and again and again. And still move forward, positive, with your head high. . .

Thanks for listening to me. Take care gentlemen. Keep on doing what you do.

Timmy Pietruszewski

What are your memories?

Winter is coming

Looking for a Fall mission trip? Here on the gulf coast we stay in shorts and flip-flops a good while after many folks in the country have bundled up for the changing season. August, September, and even into October, the weather remains so hot we wonder if it will ever cool off again. God promises “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22.

As much as we welcome the cool weather that serves as a reprieve from the summer heat, the bitter cold that eventually comes, brings hardships for many in our community who live with limited resources. Purchasing all new winter outfits proves cost prohibitive for a lot of people, especially the elderly and those with small children.

Lakeshore Baptist Church, through our Mercy House ministry, seeks to supply those in need with winter clothes. The Lord has blessed us through generous donations of clothes throughout the year. We have stuffed them away in the warehouse in boxes and bags. Its now time to pull all those winter clothes out of storage, sort through them, and make them ready for those who could use the warmer apparel. Long sleeve flannel shirts, sweat shirts, sweaters, jackets, overcoats… to be honest, I’m not sure what is in all these boxes labeled “WINTER,” but its a lot.

This week, Mrs. Bea who oversees the distribution ministry, asked if I would send out a plea for some extra hands. We could really use some help, especially between now and Thanksgiving as we bring out the winter stock. We also have a section of the warehouse full of used toys. We would like to bring those out as well, for those who might like to go through them for Christmas. This would be a wonderful project for a Sunday School class, small group, teens, or even a family to make a trip down to Lakeshore. Several days, the weekend, or even just a day trip down to the coast would be greatly appreciated… and feel free to bring your shorts, its 73° and sunny today.

New Life for Louisiana Flood Victims

As mud-out efforts continue in in the wake of the Louisiana flood, many home owners are ready to begin rebuilding. The flooded contents of their lives have been hauled out to the curb, nasty sheet rock and insulation torn out, and the wood studs have been sprayed for mold and dried. Now its time to start putting things back together. Can you come and help?

This past weekend Lakeshore Baptist Church made another trip over to Louisiana. this time we hung insulation in a home. We partnered with New Life Church of Baton Rouge and stayed in their facilities. New Life Church, formally known as Laurel Lee Baptist Church, is the church I grew up in and is still my parents church. The pastor and members there have a heart to help those in the community effected by the flood. The church building has a well-equipped fellowship hall kitchen. Classroom space can sleep volunteers on air mattresses or cots, and the building has showers. They have offered to host any of our Rebuild Lakeshore teams heading that way to help. Can you come?

Insulation in one house is just the beginning. We have several other projects lined up. We need folks who can install batted insulation and hang sheet rock to come asap. We will then continue with the projects as we see the families return home. You can email me at elbourne@lakeshorebaptist.net, call my cell phone at (228) 671-6315, or pm me on Facebook.

Mission Trip Smooths Things Out

Clean-up of the camp property has been moving slowly, but surely, since we dedicated our new church building, a little over a year ago. We made a big step this past week-end with the help of our good friend Kim Reed of Georgia. His Bobcat skills took down the old platform where Matthew used to sit, removed several piles of pallets and old debris, and spread several loads of dirt into low spots so the property will drain better. The area in front of the bunk house, that used to accommodate the Matthew, Mark, and Luke Quonset huts now looks ready to become nice green space. We can not thank him enough, as well as all the others who have come over the past year to see our property transformed from a make-shift relief center to a well kept campus. We are far from the goal, but progress looks good.

If you would like to come and help push things forward, the bunk house stands ready to host groups as large as 38 people. We still have plenty to do, left over materials to go through, the John Quonset hut to take down, the mobile units to rehab, sheds to move, bonfires to burn, landscaping to plant, and so much more. Lakeshore is still a great mission trip destination.
Clean up needed

Family is Everything

I have two of the best brothers in the world. We spent time this week in the flood relief efforts, teaming up to provide help and hope in the name of Christ. As a pastor, a doctor, and a business man we pretty much cover the field. “A threefold cord is not quickly broken” Ecclesiastes 4:12.

I’m the oldest of three brothers. I’m the pastor of Lakeshore Baptist Church on the Mississippi gulf coast where I have served since 1994. I also direct Rebuild Lakeshore, a mercy ministry involved in disaster relief, recovery, and rebuilding, launched in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Dr. Keith Elbourne is an OB/GYN and has Bayou Regional Women’s Clinic. Keith also serves as a deacon at First Baptist Church of Zachary, Louisiana, where the Mississippi Baptist Convention Disaster Relief has set up a command center for the volunteer efforts there.

David Elbourne has a successful industrial railroad construction and maintenance company, Rhorer Mutual Industries based in Prairieville Louisiana. He and our dad took a boat in, while the water was still rising, to salvage most of his files and to rescue the companies pet goat. (I’m not kidding.) The RMI offices and industrial complex took on about 6′ of water. David and I spent most of the week touching base with individuals, pastors, and organizations across the flooded region, providing supplies, lending assistance, and establishing partnerships for ongoing recovery efforts.

I can not praise my two brothers enough. They, along with our dad, are the three most inspiring, encouraging, and influential men in my life. I praise God for them.

First Trip to LA

This week Lakeshore Baptist Church teamed up with our Gulf Coast Baptist Association to provide mud-out teams in the Gonzales LA area. We partnered with Ascension Baptist Church and FBC Gonzales. A shower trailer unit from Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief provided shower and laundry facilities. Mr Larry Rutherford led the team to mud out several homes. This was our first trip, but it defanatly will not be our last.

FBC Zachary LA Hosting Volunteers

You may have seen Zachary Louisiana on the news yesterday as Obama visited this flood devastated area. If you live in other parts of the country, you probably did not see what Southern Baptists are doing to help. I’m on the Board of the Mississippi Baptist Convention and serve on the Disaster Relief committee. Lakeshore Baptist Church hosted Disaster Relief training back in February. Little did we know that our training would be needed so soon and so close.

Mississippi Baptists have a strong desire to assist our Louisiana neighbors. We have set up a command center at FBC Zachary where my brother, Dr. Keith Elbourne, is a deacon. With the resources of this partnership we can host over 100 volunteers at a time. Hundreds of homes have already been gutted, but there are thousands and thousands that still need help.

I could probably gather a long list of places that anyone coming down to help could plug in with, but for now, let me highly recommend working with First Baptist Church of Zachary LA. The church has offered their very well-equipped facilities to the effort. Mission teams wanting to come can call LC Drawdy (228)297-9953. Let him know that Pastor Don Elbourne sent you and I will try to meet up with you there. Zachary Louisiana is only a couple hours from Lakeshore Mississippi. Thank you so much!

Come and Help

The first phase of clean up after the Louisiana flood is well underway. I touched base with numerous churches and organizations in the effected region this week and while thousands of volunteers have boots on the ground, the biggest need right now is people. The next few weeks will focus on mud out.

Believe it or not, thousands of homes have already been gutted and are drying out. Drive down almost any street in the effected areas and piles of debris line the sidewalks, but then, if you look, there sits a house here and a house there and two more over on the next block, and a few on that street over there, and on, and on… that have no debris outside. This means the folks living in the home are either out helping someone else or are unable to do it themselves, or the volunteers have not made it down the list to them yet. Its going to take weeks of hard work; and that’s even before rebuilding can begin. I’m calling out to all our Rebuild Lakeshore partners to come and lend a hand in this clean up effort.

Ramping Up

Several folks have asked if Rebuild Lakeshore will be assisting in the relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts in the wake of the Louisiana flooding. The answer is “YES.” We have already been coordinating efforts, providing immediate assistance, and mapping out long term strategies.

Start making plans for a mission trip to the region. We are establishing partnerships with several possible mission trip destinations in the effected areas that will be hosting volunteers. If you made a mission trip to Lakeshore for Hurricane Katrina relief, the situation will be very similar. We learned a lot from those experiences and we want to leverage that knowledge and convert it to the maximum effectiveness. More news will be available very soon.