Over a month has past since I last posted an update. Don’t interpret my lack of communication as a sign that everything has returned to normal. We see a very long road ahead of us as God continues to rebuild Lakeshore after the ravages of hurricane Katrina. All my time and energy has been spent to that end. When my head hits the pillow each night I wish for the strength to blog about the God saturated events of the day, all the wonderful people we have met, the accomplished work, and the tasks left before us. Right now I have 14 unanswered voice mails, dozens of unread emails, and someone will walk in any second asking me what I need them to do. Never the less, I know I need to share with you some of the great things God has been doing here in Lakeshore.
My last posting, back in December, highlighted the erection of our metal building. Each week a different team comes in to make a little progress on the interior. A thirty foot stretch houses 2 classrooms, two bathrooms, and an office. Floors have been put in these rooms, they’ve been wired, and painted and we await the delivery of the ordered doors. A loft over the rooms gives us added storage space and a place for volunteers to sleep. This past week a team installed a floor in the sanctuary section and hung lights. Yesterday I preached on a solid platform instead of a wabbley piece of plywood sitting on concrete blocks. We still need to install the rest of the insulation, finish the bathrooms, build a vestibule off the front, do the final wiring, and lay carpet. In a few weeks this temporary building will be done.
Some folks have asked why it has taken so long to complete our temporary facilities, and why we have not already broken ground on our fully outfitted permanent building. I could list several reasons including the very difficult working conditions, the availability of materials and tools, and the logistical issues of a 100% volunteer rotating work force. The main reason, however, has been my insistence on focusing on the community needs and not diverting all our energy into our church buildings.
Through the tireless work of volunteer teams flooding in from across the country we have bulldozed about 20 houses, and mucked out many others. We cleared property, cut more trees than you can count, re roofed almost a dozen homes, hung sheet rock, installed water pumps for wells, and the list could go on and on. Almost everyone in Lakeshore lives in a FEMA camper and these cramped living quarters do not come equipped with much storage space, so we have built over 50 sheds for people in our community. We have a ever growing request list of at least one-hundred others.
We still run a food distribution center on our church property. We see 100-300 people a day flow through. They come for food, cleaning supplies, household items, hygiene products, blankets, pillows, electric heaters, clothing, etc. Generous churches and organizations from across the country keep the quonset hut stocked.
In the past month we also saw God orchestrate several wonderful Christmas events. I think I will have to save the details of them for another post.
Our portable saw mill continues to churn out lumber. We used downed trees from the storm to frame up the walls in our temp church building and provide materials for other projects.
A team from Memphis, headed up by an Eagle Scout candidate, built a free washateria for the community. We first planned to host the facility on church property. Lack of space forced us to look for an alternate location. We decided on the local VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars). Sometime this week the building will be ready for use and will meet a tremendous need.
God has done so much more over the past month, I can’t pretend to report the half of it. Please continue to keep Lakeshore Baptist Church and her community in your prayers. The vast ministry opportunities are already bearing fruit as we continue to recover and rebuild to the glory of God.