We have met so many wonderful people from churches all across the country. I hate to call favorites, but I must admit a certain affinity toward the kids from Rolling Hills Church in Platteville Wisconsin. I look forward to their return trip in a couple of weeks. I doubt I will forget the singing around the camp fire, the staying up late into the night unloading an 18 wheeler, and the enthusiasm with which they worked.
One night a local man had given me a bucket of raw oysters. The team from Wisconsin caught me sitting in front of my trailer with crackers and Tabasco sauce, shucking oysters and slurping them down for supper. I don’t think they had ever experienced oysters on the half-shell.
Check out the pictures that Jamie Dunbar took while here. Also, make sure to visit the Rolling Hills Church web site and listen to sermons by their pastor Jeff Nettles. Jeff shares our commitment to proclaiming the doctrines of grace and I’ve enjoyed listening to his sermons. Lord willing, he will accompany his team to Lakeshore for their March visit.
Their local newspaper carried the following story:
On January 9 a team of 11 college students representing Rolling Hills Church left for Lakeshore Mississippi to help a church and a town devastated by Hurricane Katrina. They were unsure of specifics like what jobs they’d be doing and where they would be staying, but they got on the road ready to do whatever needed to be done. Most of them were eager to get there and get started, but unaware of the devastation that awaited them.
When we arrived in Southern Mississippi, near the Gulf coast we began to see the damage that was caused by Hurricane Katrina in August last year. There were many buildings and businesses that were leveled or so badly damaged that they would have to be torn down. We turned down another road to enter into the residential part of Lakeshore and were surprised by homes still lying in piles of rubble or completely swept of their foundations.
The team learned that many of the houses were taken from their foundations by a wave that came in with the hurricane that was estimated between 30 and 40 feet high.
We arose the next morning and were given directions of what things Pastor Don Elbourne of Lakeshore Baptist Church wanted them to work on that week. A small group of students worked in a couple’s home sanding drywall. Others did construction inside a temporary metal church building. The men who did the construction put up walls and ceilings and they constructed stairs to a platform where the church would like to house some of the volunteers that come down.
Semi-trucks, pick-up trucks, and trailers came in with donations and the group graciously helped unload each of these, sometimes even late into the night.
A few team members worked in the store located on the churches property and run by volunteers from the church. The store was a quonset hut full of things people need and was free of charge. People living in the county could come get basic items such as non-perishable food items, clothing, toiletries, baby supplies, batteries, bedding, and school supplies. Most of the items in the store are donations from churches, schools, and people from around the nation.
Working in the store and in people’s homes provided many great opportunities to build relationships with the local people and give emotional support. Almost every person they talked to had a story. Some had encouraging stories of evacuation and survival; while others shared heart-breaking stories of losing loved ones and their homes.
A noticeable characteristic of the people in Lakeshore was the lack of complaining. Very rarely would anyone of the residents complain, but rather they were so grateful for the things that they had. Most were grateful to God just to be alive. This struck each person from the team a little differently, but overall the team got a lesson in humility. The team also learned to be grateful for what we have. The team members were made aware that we have more things than we need, and everything a person has can all be taken away so quickly.
The team worked hard through out the week and saw many things that we had accomplished, but saw years of work that still needed to be done in this community.
The volunteers from Lakeshore have been working since the hurricane hit and they become exhausted from this work that they do day after day. And they know that this work will not end any time soon.
As time goes on people not affected by the hurricane will begin to forget about the continuing struggle. As people forget, the donations will slow down and the volunteers that are coming will no longer be as numerous. But the people in Lakeshore see something bigger. They are relying on the one thing they know will not fail them, that being their faith in God. They pray that He will provide their basic needs and take care of them as they have seen already.