On Vacation

In the almost 11 months since the storm I’ve only taken a couple of days off. Heading up a disaster relief effort of this magnitude requires constant vigilance and attention. Hosting, housing, feeding, and directing thousands of volunteers, fighting to provide the essential needs of an entire community, putting on multiple vacation bible schools, planning and implementing community wide events, rehabbing over 50 houses, rebuilding houses from the ground up, stocking, staffing, and running a food distribution center that sees 400+ people a day and has given out millions of dollars worth of goods, maintaining a blog, keeping a church going amidst the controlled chaos, performing weddings and funerals, preaching twice a week, counseling the distressed, and making plans for the future leaves me reluctant to take any time off.

I hate to walk away from Lakeshore, but for the sake of my family I finally surrendered to a vacation. After church this morning my wife and kids will head toward Gatlinburg Tennessee for the week.

In addition to trying to catch up on some sleep, spending time with my family, and taking in the sites of Gatlinburg, I hope to make time to get in some much desired reading. Sleeping in your office amid eager volunteers means you have to wake-up, shower, and prepare for the day mighty early. With my sun-up to way past sun-down schedule, I’ve only been able to squeeze in reading before 5:00 am. In the last several months I’ve only had time to read a hand full of books. I’ve read:

I’ve never been to Gatlinburg. Taking a trip with no plans of what to do and see there goes against my nature. My wife booked us a room and we have the google map directions printed out. That’s about it. After the service we will head that direction. Lord willing we will breathe mountain air before nightfall and wake up tomorrow morning to His refreshing mercies.

School Uniform Drive

The children of Lakeshore head back to school in mid-August after their summer break. While crews complete the demolition of storm damaged Gulfview Elementary School, kids return to the make-shift temporary buildings housed 25 miles north of their community. The long commute, loss of friends, mixed school district, unfamiliar surroundings, and homework in FEMA campers leave families and teachers yearning for a little normalcy. The reinstituted dress code should provide a small step in that direction.

Lakeshore Baptist Church plans to distribute school uniforms as a wonderful ministry opportunity. You can help by sending dress code approved items to Lakeshore Baptist Church, 6028 Lakeshore Road, Lakeshore MS 39558. Please label as “School Uniform Drive.”

Dress Code

SHIRTS/BLOUSES
  • All shirts must be solid colors, white, navy blue, royal blue, or red.
  • Students may wear button down (Oxford/pointed collar or Peter Pan/Rounded collar), knit polo (2 or 3 button closure), or turtlenecks.
  • Shirts may be long or short sleeve, with or without pockets.
  • Shirts must have plain fronts without trim, lace, ruffles, pleats, etc.
  • Crop tops, Midriff shirts, or tight fitting shirts are not allowed.
  • Shirts may not carry visible trademarks, brand logos, writing, etc.
PANTS/SLACKS/SHORTS
  • All pants, slacks, and shorts must be solid navy blue or khaki (tan, beige, or similar).
  • The length of shorts must be mid-thigh or longer.
  • Girls may wear caprise.
  • Pants, slacks, and shorts may be pleated or un pleated, cuffed or uncuffed, with or without elastic, but must be hemmed.
  • Wash-n-wear or permanent press fabric only; Denim, stretch material/spandex fabric, velour or fleece is not allowed.
  • Cargo or carpenter styles or bellbottoms are not allowed.
  • Very small trademark or logo is allowed.
JUMPERS/SKIRTS/CULOTTES/SKORTS
  • Jumpers, skirts, culottes, and skorts must be solid navy blue or khaki (tan, beige, or similar).
  • The length must not be higher than four (4) inches above the top of the knee.
  • Jumpers may be V-neck or round neck.
  • Skirt style must be box pleat, knife pleat, A-line, kilt style or flared style.
  • Wash-n-wear or permanent press fabric.
  • Denim, stretch material/spandex fabric, velour or fleece is not allowed.
  • Cargo style skirts are not allowed.
INSIDE WEAR
  • Students may wear sweaters, vests,sweatshirts, or fleece in either cardigan-button down, pullover-scoop, or V-neck or zip up. styles.
  • Outerwear must be solid colors, white, navy blue, royal blue, or red.
  • Shirts may not carry visible trademarks, brand logos, writing, etc.
OUTSIDE WEAR
  • Coats and jackets may have hoods and may be any color.
  • Trademarks and logos are allowed.
  • Coat length is limited to mid-thigh,
  • Trench coats are not allowed.

Highlands Fellowship

With all the church groups that come to work in Lakeshore, sometimes we also receive a blessing from families who come on there own. Along with the 11 church groups and 180+ folks last week, a wonderful couple, Scott and Myrtle, came to help. I did not get to spend much time with them, but they quietly served with smiles, and sweat, and hard work. They just sent me an encouraging email that I’d like to share.

Pastor Don,

Our names are Scott and Myrtle Berry. We just returned home on this past Friday after spending a week there. We worked mostly on the Church office building. We are from Highlands Fellowship church in Abingdon, Va. Just want to say thanks for all you are doing for the people in your community. It was hard for us to leave with so much left to be done. We know new groups are coming in to help every week, thats encouraging. At our Church this morning they sang “How Great Is Our God”, Myrtle and I know first hand just how great our God is, we saw with our own eyes just how great He is!! Take care,

In Christ,

Scott and Myrtle

BTW, Highlands Fellowship Church in Abingdon VA continues to provide us essential assistance in the form of multiple groups who have traveled to the coast and a number of physical resources that help tremendously. Two of our bunk houses and our fully equipped kitchen trailer all came from Highlands Fellowship. We owe a deep debt of gratitude to Bob Turner and all the great folks from Abingdon.

Bogalusa Boasting

I do not exaggerate when I say that thousands and thousands of folks have poured through Lakeshore in the past 10 months. Hundreds of churches have sent teams down our way to stay extended periods of time, and countless others have sent supplies, financial assistance, prayer support, and other forms of aid. I know I’ve only been able to mention a small fraction of those who have helped. Human limitations prevent me from remembering or keeping track of everyone, much less expressing written acknowledgement publicly on my blog. Please do not interpret my shortcomings as lack of gratitude. I do try to thank them in person when here.

I deeply regret not having the time, mental acumen, or energy to profusely thank every single person and group providing assistance and support. Whenever I do mention someone, like Providence Baptist Church in Maryland, Jeff Hill from New Jersey, or the folks from Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral FL, I add a sincere apology to those I do not have opportunity to mention. Even with that apology, I still receive a few comments and emails from those perturbed that I have not taken the time to specifically mention someone in particular. For example Elouise Parker writes:

Memorial Baptist Church in Bogalusa has done quiet a bit for this group of people from October until now and I have not seen any mention of their helping. Their youth came to you near Christmas and did a fun day for your youth and their brotherhood prepared a meal. They came on a Sunday Afternoon in October with a huge covered trailer and seven other vehicles loaded with items for you. The youth department furnished the hams for the Christmas event and the church furnished lots of other items. I know that these people did not do this for personal glory but for the glory of our Savior but they should have some recognition also, not just those that came from far away. Monica Miller and Brad Triana have done lots for your people also.

Elouise,

I apologize for not yet mentioning Memorial Baptist Church in Bogalusa, or nearby Izabel Baptist Church, pastor Jeff Mizell, and Clifton Baptist Church, pastor Tony Hicks, and I think at least one or two other churches who have helped from the Bogalusa area. We deeply appreciate all the help they have sent our way. We appreciate the meal the Memorial Baptist Church brotherhood provided. We also appreciate the 100+ other big meals that other churches and groups have prepared in the last 10 months.

I have a list of about 300 churches who helped with Christmas in Lakeshore. I will try to locate it and post their names. Please forgive me for not already doing this. I wish I could write a blog entry for each group and what they did to play their part. I do not even know. We were able to provide Christmas to approximately 1000 families on the gulf coast through these events.

Please also forgive me for not being able to publicly acknowledge the countless people who have sent supplies for our food distribution center. Thousands of people would not have groceries on their FEMA camper tables, or in their tents if it were not for the generous donations from across the country and from those closer to home. Back in October, when the convoy from Bogalusa came, we were receiving 20 or more similar shipments a day. I would have loved to take a picture of every group, and make a blog entry of each one, however, I could not even physically be there myself for every shipment, much less take the time to get to my computer and comment on it. In October, I was still performing funerals for people who died in the storm, trying to help people living in tents get water to keep from dehydrating, traveling two hours away for inter net access to post the little I was able to, and taking 80 phone calls a day. Please understand that my failure to publish recognition for all the assistance does not typify our people’s deep felt gratitude for the help that continues to flood into our storm ravaged community.

Since the storm hit we have been running non stop. I only have time to pause to write about a small fraction of what happens. I deeply regret my human weakness and inability to keep up with everything. For example, just this week we had 11 different groups here working with us building and rehabing at least a dozen homes. Each house deserves a full blog post as does each of the groups that were here. We also still have a few donation deliveries a day. Each one of these deserves mention and recognition as well. I just can not humanly keep up. I’m sorry. Please accept my apology and my heart felt sincere extension of gratitude to the fine folks from Memorial Baptist Church in Bogalusa for all they have done.