D'Iberville & Picayune MS - October 2005
On Thursday October 15, I began my fourth trek down to Mississippi to help Hurricane Katrina Victims in the D’Iberville area. My wife Cheryl and I drove down with Rob Buckley and many other vehicles and trailers filled with people, tools, and provisions joined us.
We arrived Friday morning at the D’Iberville Christian Assembly Church, who graciously allowed us to sleep, shower, as well as feed us during our time there. Each night one or two members provided 20 of us with a great meal. Harvest Christian Assembly, whose church was condemned, is currently sharing the building and having joint services with them.
We changed into our work clothes and began to work on the list of needs that were given to us. We started out unloading the pews which were donated by Charlie Owen’s Church First Baptist Church of Laingsburg, who attended our previous mission trip the last weekend in October. We then split into different crews and went to several jobsites. We de-shingled, re-shingled, and repaired roofs. We hung sheet rock in four different homes, taped, applied 2 to 3 coats of drywall mud and did A LOT of sanding. We also preformed electrical, heating, cooling, plumbing, and general clean-up tasks. We had a great group of people, all of whom worked very hard, sometimes 12 or more hours a day.
We accomplished a lot, but there is still so much left to do. Currently, many people in the D’Iberville area are living in campers or FEMA trailers that sit in their driveways while they repair their homes. They also have POD units which are portable storage units sitting on the front lawn filled with salvageable household items. Most people had to rip out all the drywall on the first floor of their home, although some only had to remove the first four feet. However, their electrical systems, floors and furniture were ruined along with all their appliances, cabinetry, clothing, draperies, doors, furnaces, water heaters, and more. Most of their possessions, memories, and treasures that were not attached simply floated away, what remained after the water receded was destroyed.
The people of Mississippi, in spite of loosing sometimes everything they had, are resilient and hopeful. They appreciate the help which the state and federal government has been able to provide, but they are not relying on them and fending for themselves along with the help of their friends, relatives, and neighbors. They are also relying upon their faith and putting their hope in God. Many churches have provided the only help they have received. So many have shared stories of how they, their family, or someone they knew miraculously survived and were protected during and after the Hurricane. At some point we stopped and prayed with everyone we helped.
We also experienced a few problems and answers to prayer ourselves. Pastor Dave DeCook burned up his transmission trying to pull a trailer, just outside Mobile, AL, and we had to go pick him up as well as the trailer. He was told it would cost $1,100 to fix the transmission. He asked for prayer Sunday morning in church, at which they took up an offering. While we were praying, someone shared that God wanted to give Dave $2,000. When they counted up the offering it was $3,100, $1,100 for the transmission bill, plus $2,000 more. While Dick Northrope was pulling the trailer back, it apparently tore off his hitch, but had stayed on because of the electrical wires and chain. He left the trailer in Seamore IN, and it was picked up the next day by Dave Vanderwal who brought it the rest of the way. Finally at about 12:30AM, Micah, Josiah, and Aaron’s van hit a guard rail and the van door was ripped off, forcing them stay the night in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Fortunately, no one was hurt and their Dads arrived the next morning to bring them back. I had a similar experience on the way down in October, when we hit a deer 20 miles North of Louisville, which totaled my van. I then rented another one at 2:30AM and continued down to Mississippi. We must have accomplished a lot for Christ to receive so much flack from the enemy.
We had 20 people from 14 different churches, staying in a church which has combined with another, all working together as one. It was like being in one big family, who gathered together in one place; not to different than we all just did for Christmas. It gave a whole new perspective and reality to what it means to be in the family of God and the body of Christ. When we gather together to do His will, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. “For if God is for us, who could be against us?” I want to extend thanks to all those individuals and churches who contributed their time, resources, and prayers to making this trip a success. Jesus met people’s needs on both a physical and spiritual level. He wasn’t just talk, He was and is the Holy Spirit in action. This trip, as well as the previous three, have put feet to our faith, action to our words, and a tangible living witness to our prayers.