This time of year, while most folks work through their Christmas shopping list, I have been enjoying making a list of all the projects on our church property slated for the new year. January in Lakeshore brings a slew of folks from across the country eager to push our rebuilding efforts forward. Our largest group consists of around 170 people representing a couple dozen Reformed Baptist Churches.
Some of the projects on the agenda include:
Dismantling the Kitchen
For six and a half years now, we have used our neighbor’s old slab to feed thousands and thousands of volunteers who have flooded the gulf coast in our relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts. The time has finally arrived to clear this portion of our property to make way for our new church building. In January the team will dismantle our old make-shift kitchen, salvageing as much building materials as possible for use in various other projects. They will remove the slab, clear the trees, and begin site prep for the new construction.
As we say good-bye to our disaster relief cooking and eating area a new and improved camp kitchen replaces it. The undercroft of the bunk house has become a “monster camp kitchen.” It now stands (almost) fully operational, but we have a few items still on the punch list for this area including moving the wooden deck, setting the propane tank, and building some serving tables.
Moving the Wooden Deck
Several years ago we built nine 8′X8′ deck components. Placing them atop concrete blocks gave us a good bit of overflow outdoor seating for meals and gathering space. The design allowed for flexable reconfiguration. Last year we relocated the deck from the south to the north side of the kitchen. Now that we plan to clear that area completely, the deck will find a new home adjacent to the bunk house. An overhead awning will provide shade and light rain cover.
Setting the Propane Tank
As we move the big propane tank to the new kitchen we need to pour a slab for it to sit on. We can then build a 6′ wooden fence around the area. A gate with a lock will secure smaller propane tanks within the enclosure.
Building Serving Tables
When we first considered relocating the kitchen to underneath the bunk house I felt a bit skeptical that the new location would prove adequate. Now that we have set up the space, I believe that this new camp kitchen will provide a more superior cooking and dining experience than the old one. Folks traveling to Lakeshore for mission trips or retreats will find a great all-in-one facility.
The only deficiency comes in the lack of abundant storage space. We can overcome some of this by building some serving tables with under the counter shelving. We have plenty of left-over tiles for the counter-top. Setting the cabinetry on casters will give us the flexibility to move them around wherever needed.
At one time we had over a dozen sheds on our church property, much to the chagrin of the building code office who shoulder the Katrina recovery task of ridding the county of all temporary structures. In an effort to comply with the flood mitigation program, structures not built to code must go. We have been, slowly but surely, reducing the number of sheds on our property. The couple of sheds nearest the bunk house fall next on the demolition list. As we liquidate and rearrange the items stored in these places, we need to build racks in the short shipping container. Yes Allison, your old house will become the new shovel shed.
No one in the world could imagine how much stuff has been donated, stored, used, and distributed to and through Lakeshore Baptist Church over the past several years. Keeping all these items organized proves an overwhelming task. One week we might be swamped with one thing and the next week, with something else. “A place for everything and everything in its place” exists only as a dream in the mind of those not familiar with the ever changing dynamics of the ongoing work here.
With that said, now that things have slowed down a bit, 2012 would be a good time to reassess our inventory, move things from one storage area to another, group similar things together, and try to move toward a more organized storage arrangement.
Laying a Parking Lot and Driveway
This past year saw the completion of the Mercy House. The facility has become a wonderful blessing to the ministry here. A steady stream of traffic flows through our distribution center on the lower level. The upstairs room has hosted a few church wide fellowship meals, a very cool Coffee House type concert, our monthly senior adult luncheons, some of our business meetings, a community outreach counseling seminar, a hand full of baby showers, and several other events.
The site plan called for a back driveway to access the rear of the building and the warehouse. We have not yet cut this throughway yet. We will need to move the shipping container that sits in the way, add fill, and lay limestone. We have decided to add more needed parking along this area as well. Lord willing, in the spring we will begin landscaping the property as it becomes a beautiful testimony to the abundant mercy of God.
Erecting Clothing Rods
The ladies in our distribution center have requested more racks to hang clothing on. We have built some rods with wood frame and galvanized pipe that works well. The rest of the clothing sits on shelving. They would like to replace the shelving with racks.
Constructing a Literature Rack
We have over 200 people file through our Mercy House distribution center every week to receive food, clothing, and other tangible necessities. I want to make our Literature distribution a larger component of this ministry. We give out an assortment of gospel tracts, theological booklets, counseling resources, and other information, mostly from Chapel Library I believe an attractive and easily accessible rack would serve to expand this effort and make the literature more visible to those we minister to.
The Mississippi Welcome Center, not far from us, has an example of the kind of rack I have in mind. I have attached a picture above. If some folks could build something like this, for the Mercy House, that would be wonderful. Our’s does not have to be that “fancy,” but I like the fact that it is free standing and holds a good bit of literature in a small space.
Working in the Community
In addition to these and other tasks on the church property, we also plan to continue our efforts in the community. We have wrapped up all of our major projects, but we continually meet new people who could use assistance. Whether it is an attic of an elderly couple that never got insulated, an addition to a families overly small Katrina cottage, or the prospect of a home for a man who still lives in a camper, we endeavor to lift high the name of Christ as we minister mercy to those in need.