Rising From The Ruinby Rob Appel
We arrived at the Milton church anxious and anticipating the opportunities and work that was a mystery to most of us. Thirty people, 21 new and 9 veterans, 19 SDB’s and 11 members of the larger Christian community, all going with one purpose…to help those in need. We were gathering to go to Kiln, pronounced “Kill”) Mississippi, the boyhood home of Brett Favre, to rebuild the hurricane ravished homes of people we didn’t even know. We prayed as a group for a safe and successful trip and then left the Milton church at 8 pm with our vehicles loaded with tools, sleeping bags, clothes and people.
We traveled 973 miles. During the trip some napped, some drove, some got acquainted. We all had cookies to munch on that many provided for us from the Milton church. And yes, many cups of coffee and high octane soda was consumed to stay awake.
Monday, January 22, 2007
We Arrived at Bayou Tallah Fellowship church in Kiln, Ms. at about 2 in the afternoon. We were tired and worn out from the lack of sleep the night before.
After we got settled into our lodgings a few of us went on a tour of the devastation in the city of Bay St. Louis. Even 17 months after Katrina, the amount of damage was evident. We were silent as we witnessed what people lost and how the impact of such a storm changed the lives of so many forever.
We received an orientation on how things operated and what was expected of us. The Samaritans’ Purse people are very organized. John is the director and his wife Connie handles the administrative end of the organization.
Lights out was at 9:30 PM. We slept on cots in Sunday school rooms of the church. Many brought air mattresses. Some slept on the floor and Josh Harris slept on chairs neatly arranged into a make shift bed.
We are looking forward to tomorrow.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Up at 5 AM. A BIG Breakfast at 6 AM that consisted of eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, pancakes and then devotionals that lasted until about 7 AM. We packed a bag lunch to eat on the job site, many of us got to eat with the homeowner at least once, and we got ready to work for the day. We received our assignments, Pastor George’s crew to “mud out”, Renee’ Ochs crew to roof and Brandon Crandall’s crew to dry wall. We grabbed the tools we needed from the Samaritans’ Purse people and away we went.
Now after a hard day of mudding out, roofing and dry walling, nothing feels better than a shower and then a hot hearty meal. That was not going to happen on Tuesday night! The city maintenance crew made sure of that. They cut the water main out in front of the church. Paul to the rescue! He went into town and bought sanitized wipes for everyone. Paul has a heart of gold and sees the needs and solution before anyone else. Thanks Paul!
Dinner was every night at 5:30 sharp in the combination parish hall/sanctuary. They fed us well! As dinner ended there was a time of sharing where people told stories of what happened that day or just tell what was on their heart. They announced that the water was back on which lead to a loud cheer from the dirty dinner guests.
Later that night, after showers of course, the Hands Of God crew met and Neil and Chad lead a few songs for the group. Pastor George got us talking about what we learned today. Each night we could see the change in our people as they helped those truly in need.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Up at 5 AM. A BIG Breakfast, devotionals, bag lunch, received our marching orders and off to work we go. Mud out crew, check! Roofing crew, check! Dry wall crew, check and what is this? Two new crews! They split us up! You bet they did! We came to work and they utilized our talent. Phil Watson took a crew to do detail work and Brandon took a crew to tear out a bathroom…and I mean tear out! We grabbed the tools we needed from the Samaritans’ Purse people and away we went again. The drywall crew finished their job in the morning and was put to the task of removing and installing windows…in a brick house! Another day…another challenge!
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Up at 5 AM. A BIG Breakfast, devotionals, bag lunch, received our marching orders and off to work we go. Did I mention that we found that nothing was plumb in the homes we worked on? Nothing was PLUMB in the homes we worked on! You couldn’t find a 90 degree corner or level spot if you tried. The Samaritan’s Purse people referred to this as “custom homes”. They were custom in the fact that they were built by somebody’s father, grandfather or someone named Eileen.
Friday, January 26, 2007
Up at 5 AM. A BIG Breakfast, devotionals, bag lunch, received our marching orders and off to work we go. This turned out to be our last day. They were calling for rain the next day with a 90 percent chance of that happening.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Got up at 5:30 and packed our belongings after breakfast and said our goodbyes. Everyone was in good spirits but tired. We had helped some people and done some good things. It felt good.
The people in that area are still in great need. So many people lost everything from jobs, homes, personal belongings, and pets. Memories are all that some have left. We saw several different relief agencies at work. Samaritans’ Purse has committed to remain there until May 31, 2007. The church, Bayou Tallah Fellowship, has virtually given its building over to the Samaritans’ Purse. Members are there every morning and night to assist with the preparation of meals. This church is sacrificing a lot and providing a great service. The work we did was hard but very rewarding. And performing it in a Christian atmosphere makes it even better.
Renee Ochs, Brandon Crandall, George Calhoun, Jim Polarski, Phil Watson, Ron Preiss,
Elise Walker, Rob Appel, Jennifer Preiss, Randy Kersten, Ron Ochs, Kathy Zalor,
John Miller, Paul Benish, Josh Harris, Phil Lawton, Neil Lubke, Todd Brookhiser,
Frank Perrino, Fred Wuerthele, Nick Kersten, Deb Perrino, Leanne Wuerthele, Steve Gincer,
Chad Ochs, Karen Brookins, Steve Gincer II, Jamie Dutcher, Frankie Giffone, Kristie Jorgenson