Selecting Colors

A great team of folks from Mid-Lakes Baptist Association of Missouri are doing a great job hanging the sheet rock in our new building this week. Which means we will need to select paint colors soon, and that reminds me of a story, I would like to share.

Shortly after the storm we erected our current “temporary” church building and began worshiping in it imediatly. We built interior walls and finally hung sheet rock. When the time came to paint the focal wall, I needed to decide on a color. So, I turned to JoEll for input.

If you have been to Lakeshore, you have probably met JoEll. She has been serving as my secretary since the storm. Over the years, I have learned to value her opinion and her friendship. She often helps me think through decisions like this and she usually has very good advice and thinks through things well.

Now remember, about six grueling months had past since the storm and the landscape remained desolate. We were still in the long process of removing debris, there were no leaves on the trees, all the grass was dead, All the FEMA campers were plain white. The quonset huts were mud brown. Everything was dreary, lifeless, colorless, and depressing. Even when we were building sheds, we just gave them a utilitarian white wash and called it good enough.

JoEll recognized that we needed a little life injected into the dreariness of the long-term recovery efforts. We needed some color to brighten things up, something sunny. She said, how about “sunshine yellow?” I started picturing this big wall in the front of the church, splashed with “sunshine yellow.” I imagined people having to wear sun glasses to worship. I respectfully vetoed the idea.

At that point, I said, “I think I need a man’s opinion.” (See my article on Masculine Church Architecture.)I turned to James. He said, I think we need a man’s color; something like deep blue or green. Now that’s more like it! Green it was. We selected a nice earth tone green.

But I hated the idea that I had to reject JoEll’s suggestion and I really wanted to brighten her day. So the next morning, when I was doling out jobs for all the volunteers, I saved a special project for a couple of the ladies. I sent them on a “secret mission.” Once JoEll had gotten to the church property, they snuck off to purchase paint, and then over to JoEll’s FEMA camper, to paint her shed, yep, the brightest “sunshine yellow” they could find. I wish I could have seen the look on her face when she got home that evening. lol
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Ready for Spring Break?

Are you looking forward to spring? Historically our spring break weeks have been full of mission teams. At this time we still have several weeks open as we continue working on the new church building. We do not have anyone scheduled yet for March 2-6, March 23-April 12, and April 20 through the end of May. Want to come? Talk it up in your church. As the weather warms, we look forward to a glorious time in the Lord on the gulf coast this spring.

The Reformed Baptist Project

The Lord blessed us last week with a wonderful time of Christian fellowship and productivity when nearly 100 volunteers converged on Lakeshore to push forward with the new church building construction. We hung siding on the south side of the building, installed the air conditioning units and ran the duct work, dug the elevator pit, pour steps for the front entrance, set the large columns for the front portico, and several other things.

The team consisted of a network of Reformed Baptist Churches who have been to Lakeshore every January for the last nine years. I truly have been blessed by the relationships forged through this partnership.

To read a detailed account of the happenings throughout the week, check out their blog “The Lakeshore Project

Happy New Year!

It is a happy new year indeed. Progress moves forward on the new church building and fund raising efforts look good. This time last year the corner of Lakeshore Road and Second Street sat as an empty field with nothing more than stakes in the ground run with string. Today the edifice of a new building stands tall, waiting completion, for the glory of God.

Over the past twelve months we saw pilings pounded into the ground, footers dug, pillars set, the slab poured, the floor joists hung, the walls built, the trusses swung into place, the roof shingled, windows and doors installed, a back deck constructed, the building wired, the plumbing run, and a thousand other things.

For those closely following the progress, you know we were “dreaming of a white Christmas” with the hope of spray foam insulation last week. Before we broke for the holiday we decided to juggle priorities and hold off on that application for a few weeks. This change does not jeopardize the schedule in any way. It simply gave us some breathing room to ensure that all the rough in electrical, plumbing, and HV/AC could receive the attention it deserves.

As we look forward to 2014, we see the promise of a completed project by summers end. In a few days, 100+ volunteers will flood into Lakeshore for an intense week of loving labor. Plans include constructing the front entrance, setting the massive front columns, starting the siding, and preparing for the elevator, among other things. Lord willing we will begin hanging sheet rock in February.

Come March, we will need some more hands to move forward with paint, flooring, trim, restrooms, and the punch list that will be several pages long on a project this size. Its not too early to plan a Spring Break mission trip. Would you like to come? Contact us for details.

I would like to also ask you to join us in prayer concerning our financial goals for the project. We need an additional $37,000 to complete the building. For a church our size, that is still a substantial sum, but I do not believe it is insurmountable. The LORD owns the cattle on a thousand hills… His cattle, His house, His glory!

Dreaming of a White Christmas

I doubt it will snow on the Mississippi gulf coast this Christmas season, but I am looking forward to a white Christmas of spray-foam insulation in the new church building. If everything goes well, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day will see the inside of the structure looking like a flocked Christmas tree.

As Santa’s Elves put finishing touches on toy trains and dolls, hard working volunteers are wrapping up the rough-in electrical, HV/AC, and plumbing. The Hancock County Building Inspector anticipates making a list and checking it twice, before December 25th as he rewards the hundreds of volunteers who have proved in 2013 that they have been good boys and girls. I can’t seem to come up with a tune that works, but I’m singing, “All I Want For Christmas is a Passed Rough-in Inspection.” I look forward to spending New Year’s Day in the Winter Wonderland of a newly insulated church building. I can not thank everyone enough for making 2013 such a great and productive year!

Old News

Last year our old web site hosting company closed down. Another company generously picked us up with donated hosting. In the move, six years of blog posts fell off the back of the truck. Well, that’s not exactly how it happened, but I lost all the posts in the transfer. I could explain the behind the scenes, legacy servers at our old site, incompatible WordPress versions, PHP stuff, and Sql database techno-bable: but suffice it to say all the old news went off-line. The good news is, I finally got it all back. I pulled a few fist fulls of my hair out in the process, but I finally got the wheels turning again. You can now go back and read 558 old posts, dating all the way back to August 2005, right after the storm.

I just went back and read some of the old posts from the fall of 2005. Wow, this has been some kind of ride.

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21

The Back Porch

The Back Porch

The back porch of the church building is complete. The structure will hold the air conditioner units for the building, serve as the platform for the elevated electrical meter and feed, as well as provide rear egress from the building.

Men from Grace Covenant Baptist Church, Bermingham Alabama dug the footings, built the forms, set the rebar and prepared for the slab. Local men and our church members poured and finished the concrete. A great team from Pine Forest Baptist Church, Vidor, Texas built the deck and stairs.

The project turned out very nice. One of the volunteers said, “Its a shame such a beautiful back porch has to hold ugly air conditioner units.” Someone else replied, “God deserves the very best.” Everyone agreed.

The Back Porch

The Back Porch

Still Working

We still have a long way to go with the new church building. The Lord made great progress over the summer months. This fall, Lord willing, volunteer crews will add the front portico, a side porte-cochère, and a back porch to the building. We do not yet have teams lined up for these projects. If you, or someone you know, would like to make a mission trip and come to lend a hand, please contact our construction manager Mike Poirier at mike@lakeshorebaptist.net or 413-233-7557 (cell). We would love to have the outside of the building complete by Christmas.

Eight Years

Katrina Relief

One of our best friends, Mrs. Paula Hamilton, sent me the following letter commemorating the eight year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Eight years ago, your lives were changed forever as Hurricane Katrina came ashore. I remember hearing the news and watching the miles and miles of devastation along the Mississippi Gulf. Our church rallied together, collecting two truckloads of water, toiletries and clothing. Within a week, my husband Barry and his best friend Mike set off for southern Louisiana. They were stopped short due to road closures and left all our supplies at a church acting as a safehaven for evacuees.

Upon their return and testimony, we realized that wasn’t enough. A mission trip team was formed with our eyes set on New Orleans. They of course had the most need…so we thought. We began raising money and were scheduled to work the first week of June 2006. In late January, we received our assignment – it was HazMat! We would have to wear protective suits as we would be mucking out houses that had been underwater and left untouched. Due to the health risks involved, we had to reject this plan. Now what do we do? We had raised lots of money for Katrina Relief. Our mission trip leader, Mike Hinman, prayerfully set out to find another community that needed our help. While surfing the web, he came across a little website called rebuildlakeshore.com. After contacting Pastor Don, we switched our arrangements from New Orleans to Lakeshore, Mississippi. In June, we traveled 20 hours from Maryland to Mississippi by bus.

We couldn’t wait to arrive and be of service. We were excited to be on such an important mission to change lives. We had no idea that God ever present in this sleepy little town of Lakeshore was about to change our lives. Our bus was cheerful as we made our way through Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. We saw other teams at rest stops and were overjoyed to be part of a national relief effort. The closer we came to the Gulf coast, reality started to sink in. We saw FEMA trailers lined up in large lots and forests of trees snapped in half like toothpicks. That is when our bus became quiet. We then saw abandoned cars and trailers on Highway 90. We turned down Lakeshore Road and saw your school in rubble, houses boarded up, clothing hanging in trees, a FEMA trailer park. The compound at Lakeshore Baptist Church looked like a MASH unit in a war zone. I remember thinking “What had I done? bringing my husband who was undergoing chemotherapy at the time down here to work in these dire conditions??” We quickly realized we were standing at ground zero of this horrific storm.

We didn’t know what to expect…we didn’t know what we would be able to accomplish in only one week’s time…we didn’t know where to even begin. The next morning we met Greg and James and were told our word for the week was FLEXIBILITY. We soon found out why. Our group was split into 3 work sites. There were no street signs or traffic lights so directions were difficult to follow. Building supplies were limited, if they could be found at all. There were no trees for shade. There was no electricity for air conditioning or fans unless you had a generator. And it was hot as the dickens.

On the 2nd day of work, my knee swelled. I was banned from returning to the work site. Pastor Don suggested I help Miss Bea in the “store”. Although very disappointed, I stayed back and was obedient and oh so richly Blessed!! The children at my school had made cards and so I sat at the entrance of the quonsehut with my knee up on a box and handed them out. This was my journal entry for the day:

“People and the children were so touched by our cards. I gave out all but three…and lots of smiles and hugs and words of encouragement. I even got a few kids jumping up and down. One card had blown into the water and though faded and hardened, when I gave it to a little boy, he just gushed and said “Ain’t this so cute!” Here tattered and all, this dear sweet child could still see the love within…The children are looking for toys and books and stuffed animals and shoes. The people need FOOD. Many are feeding whole families. People come in the hundreds. They still need so much! Heavenly Father, bless Pastor Don and Miss Bea and Joelle and James and Greg and Jamie and George. I’m sitting here crying because I don’t want to leave. My heart just aches for these people. People have waited an average of 4 months before getting a FEMA trailer. Some are still living in tents. There are many people, but very few stores and very little food except far away…I am so saddened Lord and I know You are in total control. I just don’t know how they have made it. Please sweet Jesus, expand this territory here in Lakeshore. They are the ones SAVING LIVES HERE. We are merely Your Humble Servants. We never really knew or understood. We still can’t totally grasp it but I pray for Vision, Lord for this southern state of Mississippi and for Louisiana too. These people have truly touched all our hearts and they will never be forgotten.”

On this anniversary, I want you to know that you have not been forgotten. We pray for you constantly. We are so proud to have had the opportunity to work side-by-side as you stood strong as a Church. You have showered your community with Blessings upon Blessings. Your distribution center remained open when others closed. You have fed and clothed thousands and thousands of people. You have offered school supplies and uniforms and vacation Bible school to the children. You have collected toys and gifts from across the nation to hand out at Christmas. You have taught people how to grow a garden and how to manage a budget. You have given money and supplies to those in need and have helped demolish, rehab and rebuild hundreds of houses. You have ministered to your community and brought many to the Lord. You have certainly shown His Glory through all of these endeavors, and many many more.

YOU, the members of Lakeshore Baptist Church, have been humble and obedient servants. YOU have made sacrifices upon sacrifices and patiently waited upon The Lord for His Time to rebuild your homes. And now HE IS READY to rebuild your physical church. Sing PRAISES loudly to His Name and REJOICE in His Abundant Gifts. He loves you so…

Happy Anniversary Lakeshore Baptist Church.

All my love,

Paula Hamilton from Maryland