When Nature Calls

Its a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. I praise the Lord for First Baptist Church of Ponchatoula Louisiana who was here last week. They successfully dug the trench and laid the sewer line for the new church building. Its not as glamorous as some of the other things, but it was a necessary project and I praise the Lord that they were willing to do it. At least it was fresh pipe. This actually reminds me of several stories. I’ll share one and try not to be too graphic.

It was the first couple of weeks after the storm. Remember, Katrina completely destroyed this area, there were no standing buildings, no utilities or services of any kind. Our church property had nothing but debris. We were camping out in tents, eating military MREs, and when nature called, we had to just go behind some rubble. So when a church in Texas called and asked, “what is your greatest need,” we talked about getting some sort of restroom set up.

We had an old septic tank on the church property, with a slab and a hole leading down to it. My idea was to build an out house over it and at least that would give us some privacy. They jumped on the project, prefabed the wooden structure in Texas, set it on a trailer, and headed our way.

When they arrived, I was off site. Unable to locate the septic tank, they dug a deep hole in what would have been the back yard of the old church. Picture an old-fashioned 4’X4′ outhouse and you get the idea. It was wonderful and served its purpose for several days. I was a little worried about the hole, but the guy said that he placed a bag of lime at the bottom and that would take care of things. Apparently, that’s how they did it in the old days.

Come Sunday morning, we were holding church services where the old building used to be. We had pulled the pulpit out of the mud, set it up on concrete blocks and on a piece of plywood that used to serve as someone’s roof. We build a makeshift awning out of salvaged lumber and a blue tarp to shield us from the hot September Sun. Since there were no walls on this structure, the outhouse could be seen right behind me as I preached. The awkward sight didn’t bother anyone, but the flies were a little difficult to handle. With the number of folks on the church property, the lime had gone past its usefulness. It was bad.

Relief supplies had been rolling in. Among the goods we received a pallet of bleach. We used it to clean out our wells as we tried to get water going again. One of the volunteers knew how to get rid of the flies. He poured a couple of gallons of bleach down the hole. Its been a long time since high school chemistry class, but apparently lime and bleach don’t mix well. The outhouse started smoking. Toxic white fumes billowed out of every seam of the structure and as we began the church service, I was a little afraid that it might blow up.

As we sang the “Call to Worship,” The Lord sent a favorable wind that blew the potentially deadly smoke away from the congregation. After church, the flies were all dead, but I warned everyone not to use the outhouse. It was the only toilet within miles and I had to place an “out of order” sign on it

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