Mrs. Helen Cunningham sent out the following report of their recent trip to Lakeshore. I’ll post it in two parts. You can also view their great pictures at their Mississippi photo album.
Mississippi, April 27-May 1, 2008
My reflections – Helen Cunningham & Photos – Peter Cunningham
Arriving late Sunday afternoon, the sky was gray and it was raining. As we drove along the narrow road to the Church where we would be staying, we saw much evidence of the devastation that our brothers and sisters endured since Hurricane Katrina nearly three years ago. Then way up on the left, we came upon an eerie sight indeed – what seemed like a Church steeple was sitting on the side of the road. It was the very Church steeple of Lakeshore Baptist Church that the congregation retrieved from among the debris that once was the Meeting House. They had lovingly placed it so that it is clearly visible as you approach the Church.
The Church grounds are scattered with box cars and truck trailers that have been assembled to make up the sleeping quarters, showers, toilets, and laundry. A large opened screened dining hall, industrial kitchen, and very large pantry has been constructed on a cement slab that had once been the floor of someone’s home. The ceiling is made up of tarpaulins fastened to tall tent stakes placed along the center of the screened structure, and from this ceiling and all along the perimeter, hang T-shirts representing every Church that prayerfully sends their teams to minister in their name for Jesus. We all proudly added our names to the T-shirt that represents our fine Church body in Kingston! The front of our T-shirt displays our Church as drawn by our beloved Pastor Wendell Irvine.
The Meeting House itself is a very large Quonset structure with some storage rooms, two shower rooms, and a large room that has become the collection area for all manner of tools, building supplies, shovels and other handy items. This area also houses the stairway that leads to a large attic where many of our brethren who have labored before us, slept on army cots. Needless to say, our little sleeping pods with bunk beds, comfortable mattresses, wash basin, and both air conditioning and small portable heater, were sweet indeed!
Also on the property are two tool sheds, one of which one houses a table saw – quite impressive. There are four walk-in storage sheds and two large Quonset structures housing goods where folk can come Wednesday through Saturday to collect some of what they need. Three or four of our dear sisters of Lakeshore Baptist Church regularly volunteer four days of their week to serve their neighbors, helping them choose what is needed for that day. I was blessed to watch from the kitchen sink as some folk happily carried away a quilt made by our brilliant “My Brother’s Keeper” quilters – what a blessed sight! And what beautiful gifts these dear women provided in the name of Jesus!
Because the site understandably lacks an overseer for all the necessary activities associated with such a large rebuilding project that Lakeshore Baptist Church has had Divinely thrust upon it, the areas described were amazingly functional in spite of the seeming disarray.
But on the rainy Sunday afternoon that we arrived upon a scene that to me seemed quite abysmal, Peter and I were greeted by a delightful young woman, Jennifer Ryan, who had already been ministering there since the previous Wednesday with six other members of her Church from southern Massachusetts, Pastor Rob, Linda, Christine, Joshua, Amanda, and her sister whose name sadly escapes me. We enjoyed sharing our stories of conversion and how good God is, and then our New Hampshire team arrived. Although the daylight was almost gone and the rain continued, there was “light” in our midst!
When we were all settled in, then the whole Team comprised of the Massachusetts and New Hampshire folk along with Jamie, the resident missionary, and two other young women, Liz and Brittany, who dedicate weeks of their lives to this mission, gathered in the dining hall. We shared and then made our way along the many sheets of ply-wood that had been laid down in order for folk to traverse the area. This wooden pathway connecting all the pods, storage and work areas, were like “streets of gold” that kept us “Mississippi mud” free!
That was Sunday, and then came a sunny and warm Monday morning and the remaining days:
Tomorrow I’ll post part two of their report.