When the storm hit one year ago, we trusted that God was working thousands of purposes for His glory. I know now, that part of the plan of providence included thousands of people flooding into the Lakeshore area. Dozens have become close friends. One of the most precious hails from Platteville, Wisconsin. Jamie Dunbar traveled with her church back in January and then again in March. Her heart for Lakeshore led her to serve here as a summer intern through NAMB. We threw her in the fire with both feet. Before she completed the first week we had her driving a forklift, stocking shelves, directing droves of teenagers to countless jobs, answering the phone, running errands, greeting arriving teams late into the night, and doing anything Greg, James, JoEll, and I didn’t want to do. 🙂 Although she keeps a grueling schedule, vary rarely gets five minutes off, and lives in less than desirable conditions (enough to scare off most people) she has just decided to stay with us as a semester missionary at least until Christmas.
At 23 and a relative new believer, she demonstrates a maturity far beyond her years. She works quietly, learns quickly, and serves tirelessly. As my chauffeur I’ve enjoyed her heart for sound theology, her great since of humor, and her taste for good food. She loves the doctrines of grace, rides a cool bike, and can order a dressed shrimp po-boy like a native New Orleanian. She sings and plays guitar and couples her talent with a passion for great hymns. She even blogs. Check out her site, Because of Grace, as she chronicles her ministry in Lakeshore.
Above: a line forms awaiting our distribution center’s morning opening
When folks in our community heap words of praise on me for the work Lakeshore Baptist Church provides, I have to quickly divert the gratitude upward and outward. God continues to send the resources of volunteer man power for the rebuilding efforts and generous supplies for the distribution center as we minister help and hope for His glory. A dear local lady sent me this email:
Hello Pastor Don,
I have sent e-mail to all my email friends in other states asking for donations to your distribution center, I sent them a list of items needed and for them to contact their Pastors to contact you. I also suggested that since it was hard to ship these items down here that they could possibly sent Wal-Mart gift cards to you telling what they wish for you to purchase with the cards, for example cases of can goods, paper towels, toilet paper, bottle water, etc.
I and my neighbors are some of the people you have helped and it is greatly appreciated. While standing in your line waiting for the site to open we have met so many wonderful people, A church group from Kansas a couple of weeks ago,, Janet and her daughter were so sweet..
We met a elderly gentlemen yesterday that was looking for can goods and bottle water. The water supply was gone, later that evening My neighbor and me brought him 4 cases of water that we had collected for him. It made us feel good that we had something we were able to share with him.
We and our community are slowly rebuilding our lives. Your church has been a ray of sunshine to us.
I hope the emails will generate more help for the distribution center.
Thank You again for helping our community.
Some days we see up to 500 people flow through our distribution center to keep food on their FEMA camper tables. As Bonnie suggested, Wal-mart gift cards provide an excellent way for people around the country to help Lakeshore rebound to the glory of God. You can send gift cards or other donations to:
Lakeshore Baptist Church
PO Box 293
6028 Lakeshore Road
Lakeshore MS 39558
With the fall semester starting all over the country our summer flood of volunteer help begins to slow. Believe it or not, the usually bustling Lakeshore Baptist Church property sits almost empty and quiet this morning. My administrative assistant, JoEll, began her maternity leave today, Greg London is in Atlanta attending the FIRE conference, and James went to visit his sister in a Shreveport hospital. The one family with us this week is working off site in one of the homes. That leaves Me and Jamie (our intern) here waiting for the group of ladies from Crystal Springs to arrive some time today.
So much more still remains undone. We pray that this temporary lull in volunteers will give us time to breathe and continue on for the glory of God.
I’ve been trying to take this opportunity to catch up on email this morning, now that we have inter net access and air conditioning in our new office. I just set up a folding table in here to get out of our cramped office camper. We still need to paint the interior doors and trim work, complete the bathroom, and several other miscellaneous things. The outside still needs another coat of paint and the storm shutters need to be built and hung. It won’t be long before we can officially move in. Doing so should make all the efforts here more productive and efficient. If you would like to come help, please call us at (228) 469-0110. If no one answers, please leave a message and we will return your call asap.
Local kids returned to school this week outfitted by our school uniform drive. The give-away proved a great success. Lakeshore Baptist Church distributed over 600 uniforms to grateful parents.
Plans for Gulfview Elementary School are up in the air – literally. As demolition crews finish grinding the remains of the school’s foundation, officials battle over where and how to rebuild. Locals unanimously want the school rebuilt in its historic central location, but federal authorities have other ideas. Meanwhile, many Lakeshore elementary school children catch 6:00 am busses to shuttle them up to their temporary school location near the Stennis International Airport
Things continue to happen much faster than I could ever blog about them all. A few weeks ago, Stephen Ake made his 8th trip to Lakeshore since the storm. I failed to blog about our Family Bible Conference, so please check out Stephen’s blog for a summery of God’s activity that week. He also snapped a good number of pictures from this trip. That week we hosted about 200 volunteers and saw a lot of progress being made on over a dozen homes.
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.
Please participate in our school uniform drive to help the children and families of Lakeshore.
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.”
- 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.
- 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, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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,
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.