Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Returned home

I have arrived back home for a week to spend with my family. I am looking forward to doing basic things at home including getting a Christmas tree and having that set up.
I will also be meeting with a new orthopedic surgeon on Thursday who might be able to shed some light on my neck and shoulder pain.
Please pray for our staff now in the gulf: Matt, Adam and Jeremiah as they labor this week while I am away and as we have a new team arriving tonight in the gulf.

Amazing provision

What an amazing weekend we had. Our teams came in and were such a blessing. We had opportunities to serve at a Thanksgiving dinner for people in Bayou La Batre, AL and bless some weary people.
One of our teams was a skilled labor team. We kept them busy. They laid 3/4" plywood throughout one home as well as insulated it and began to hang sheetrock. The next two days were spent roofing two different homes in Pascagoula, MS and BLB, AL. The people were so blessed to receive the help of COI.
Our other team were true servants as well. They spent most of their time helping us at Robin's house (she is the lady who couldn't remember how to give us directions on how to get to her home). We stripped her home down to the studs and washed and bleached down every piece of hardwood flooring she had in her home as we took it out. When we lifted out her flooring we discovered that the sub-floor was rotting away in many places and that we had to remove this also.
We felt the next step to do was to purchase some 3/4" plywood to replace the sub-floor we had to remove. We went to the store to purchase the materials and I realized I did not have my COI credit card with me. I felt the Lord "nudge my heart and mind" to put the purchase on my own credit card, and that he would supply the cost of the purchase. The cost was 342.00.

When I returned back to Robin's to work I was met by one of our short term staff who was returning home early. Her church had given her some money to use in the gulf and she gave me what was left to use for "whatever we needed". She was unaware of what I had just done. She gave me about 130.00. Now I was 212.00 away from God meeting this need.

Just after this staff member left for home a couple drove into Robin's driveway. They indicated that they were from South Carolina and had come down for a day to do something for those affected by Katrina. They shared that they saw us working earlier in the day as they drove by and asked if they could help us out for a few hours in the afternoon. They asked questions like, "How long have you been here, Where are you from?" etc... Then they went to work.
I began to talk more about what we were doing and about how God had blessed us since we came to the gulf area. They were such a caring couple who have been through hurricanres themselves in Charleston. During our conversation the couple asked if there was any materials we needed or tools. I shared that we did. I did not tell him what I had just done and how much I still needed. The gentleman then reached into his wallet and handed me 220.00 to be used for whatever materials we needed. Amazing isn't it? Exactly what we needed.
The next day the couple came by again and presented me with 200.00 worth of Lowes gift certificates to purchase other things we need here. What is most amazing to me is this: The man shared with me that he is an atheist. They are wanting to help and make a difference. They got involved.
God continues on a daily basis to show His hand of leading. I can see God so clearly as He provides for His work.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Weekend of expectancy

Thanksgiving is such an important date on the calendar in the US. It is typically the time for families to gather together and celebrate and be thankful.
This weekend is a little different for us. We are hoping to bring joy to many people. We will do this through serving thanksgiving dinners, mudding out peoples homes, fixing their roofs, hanging sheetrock, laying down flooring, counseling and loving people with Chris'ts love.
We have two teams giving up their thanksgivings to share their lives with others in Mississippi and Alabama. They will be true servants of Christ during these very challenging holidays.
May God grant those of you in the US a wonderful thanksgiving season. You and I have so much to be thankful for. Share your lives with someone else this weekend.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

"Small hole needs to be repaired?"

It was late Friday afternoon about 4:00. I answered my phone and it was a man asking if we could come over and help him fix a small hole in his floor. He said it should take about 15 minutes to fix. As we examined the floor and what was around it we figured it would take a bit longer.
As we walked on the floor we discovered some other "soft spots". We pointed these out to the home owner and he said lets fix those also. As we began to pull off the first layer of flooring we discovered mold growing between the first and second layer, something the home owner did not know existed. He was faced with a decision, whether to strip the top layer of flooring and bleach the second layer or just ignore the problem. He chose to remove that first layer.
When we began to do as he suggested we found the second layer of flooring was rotting away. The home owner debated what he should do. That is until he put his foot in a "soft spot", and the floor gave way beneath him as he tumbled to the ground. The decision was then made to strip both layers of flooring down to the floor joices of 2x8's. Sadly when we got to that level the floor joices were rotting as well from the sea water that Katrina had brought in.
The final decision is that the home owner will need to almost start from scratch. It is so sad to see people who do not have the resources to rebuild faced with such tough decsions. How will they ever rebuild? Who is coming to help them?
We will do all we can to assist this one family but again there are so many like them.
Please continue to pray for the people in the gulf, the needs are still so immense.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Ramp built..relationship built

I shared earlier about meeting Robin and her need for a ramp for her sister in a wheelchair. We completed the deck and Robin was so pleased.
I also had the opportunity to share with Robin and counsel with her. She is beginning to have hope and can see that what she is experiencing is not because she is crazy or going there. In fact she is suffering the effects of trauma in her life.
While talking with Robin I shared the reason why he had come to help out in the gulf. I shared with her about the love of God and how God had not forgotten her. I asked her "How do you know that God has not forgotten about you?" Her response was "because He sent you guys here to help me." It was a real breakthrough for her. She has made a commitment to get back to church and rebuild a relationship with God which she has neglected for quite some time. She grew up in a Christian home but was not actively involved in a personal relationship with Christ. The good news is she is planning to be back in church on Sunday, not for me, but because she knows it is where she needs to be.
If building a wheelchair ramp for someone is a tool to help build a realtionship with Christ then Iam so blessed to bless others.
Another exciting thing happened this week. We received gift certificates for over $450.00 to be used to buy tools for our work projects. With this blessing we were able to purchase a cordless drill, a skill saw, levels, and lots of other necessary building tools. God's timing is so evident once again. So thanks so much to the team from Indiana that blessed us this way.

Encouraging words

Just a quick quote from a group coming to the gulf coast. It is very encouraging!!! " I have full confidence that you and God will have us doing just the right thing to make just the right impact for His Kingdom!"

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I can't tell you directions to my home

Robin was a lady that came in to the office where we were in Bayou La Batre. She talked with the receptionist where we were and shared how she needed a ramp to be built to her FEMA trailer. Her sister had fallen since Katrina and broken her leg pretty severely and was in a wheelchair, she would need to be in one for the next three months. Right away the receptionist looked to me and asked, "Is this something your team can do?" People down in the "Bayou", as we have come to call it, know that we are willing to help those who are in need. We said we would be willing to help.
I asked Robin how to get to her home so we could measure out the ramp and determine the supplies we would need. Robyn looked at me with a blank stare and said, "I don't know." She was under such stress that her mind was literally shutting down. She could not think of or provide an answer to a basic question. I immediately recognized that Robin was likely suffering from PTSD(Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I said to Robin, "it is ok, dont worry about it. We can figure it out." I then shared that I do counseling and that I thought we could not only build her the ramp but that I could help her with the stress in her life. Let me tell you what has caused the stress in her life.
She has severe damage in her home, severe. Her mother lost her home. She lost her job. Her sister fell and broke her leg and she is now in a hospital waiting for a ramp to be built so she can return "home". The temperature out side will be below 32 degrees ferenheit, freezing over the next few overnights. In other words she lost her home, the memories of her childhood home, her job, and on top of that insurance does not cover any of her expenses. She has no money!!! Who wouldn't have some level of stress?
I had the privilege of sharing with Robin today. We talked about how to move forward and try to begin to make sense out of chaos. We talked about hope. We talked about Gods provision. I shared that we would build her a ramp and find some way to pay for it. I told her we would stand with her and beside her. Just a few hours later we had ordered the lumber necessary and had a church volunteer to cover the cost for her. We then visited her damaged home and began the work there of "gutting her home". At the end of the day Robin had a smile on her face and thanked us so much for our help. She said she had hope now. She felt like she was going to be ok. I asked her if I could introduce her to a pastor friend of mine who pastors a church in the Bayou, and she said she would like that.
Tomorrow we will build that ramp, and we will share our lives, what God has done in our lives, with her.
It is because of people like Robin that I have come to the Gulf Coast. Sadly there are so many like Robin, disillusioned, hopeless, crying out for help.
Please pray for Robin and this area of the world. Please if at all possible come to the gulf and help out. The harvest is ripe and the laborers are so very few!!!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Back to the gulf

I am heading back to the Golf Coast tomorrow. I would once again ask for your prayers as I fly throughout the day.
Please continue to log onto the blog and I will tell more stories of our work in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Using your talents and gifts

Yesterday I was talking with our landlord, Mark, he had come over to fix the water pump in our home. He is a great guy and is a jack of all trades. You know the type of person that can fix anything. He asked about my trip to the gulf and I shared some of my pictures. He was amazed by the devastation there.
He said how much he appreciated that I could be so commited to a cause. At the same time as he was talking about this, he was helping me repair a tire on the ministry car. Then he walked over to our personal car and said , "it looks like your tire is low there as well. Lets take it off and fix it. Maybe I can help you with that."
I shared with him that he was a lot like me. He was using his talents and gifts to help someone else who has a need. I can't do mechanical stuff, but I can organize and coordinate mission trips. I can counsel with people. I can love people with the love of Christ. Mark can't do those things but he can help a neighbour in need.
I am convinced that every person has been given talents and gifts. It is in the Bible. What we do with those gifts is what matters. Some people bury those gifts in the ground, remember that parable. Some are afraid to use them. Some are willing to use them, when it is convenient. Some like Mark look for opportunities to bless others.
The interesting thing is, Mark is not a Christian. He doesn't have to read it in the Bible to know it is the right thing to do. The biggest blessing in helping others, is what it does for you. It just makes you feel good to help others. At least it does for me.
Find someone to be a blessing to. Just look around, the opportunities are all around us. Let me know of some way you bless someone else in the next few days. It will make you feel good and it is a pleasing aroma to God.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Missions minded church...what is it?

It has been an encouraging day as a number of people I have heard from have shared how their teams were blessed to serve with our ministry and how it has impacted their team members.
I also received an email from a lady who has family in the gulf coast, thanking us for our service to so many people.
I was out for a hot chocolate with a friend today and he asked me the question, "How do you take a church that thinks they are mission minded and help them to become mission minded?" What an interesting question. What a thought provoking question. Maybe the bigger question is "what does a mission minded church look like"?
I would love to hear from you. What do you think? What determines whether a church is missions minded? Can a church be mission minded and rarely have people going on mission trips?
I hope it makes you think. I know it makes me think.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Out of sight...out of mind

I talked with some people today that were well intentioned but poorly informed. One lady said to me. "It is good to see you again. They must have things pretty well cleaned up in the gulf by now? Right?"
Another lady said, "Were you in New Orleans? They had a lot of problems there? Did they have any damage in Mississippi?"
I know it is not their fault that they do not know the situation. I began to think that maybe they represent a greater cross section of people than I thought. My prayer is that through this blog and talking to others that we can let people know the reality.
I had a pastor write me today to tell me that he had decided against coming to the gulf because he thought things were getting much better. After reading the blog he is reconsidering and hopes to bring a team to the gulf.
Please help me out by talking to others about the need in the gulf and the work of COI. I am going to do my best to ensure that it is not really a case of "Out of sight...out of mind"