Saturday, December 31, 2005

What's in Your Heart?

We’ve worked for four days now and I feel like I have learned enough to build a new roof on my house if I ever needed to. Yet, within those four days, I still haven’t figured out if my heart could withstand the loss and struggle that the people of Biloxi have endured. I had the opportunity to talk to one of the families we were helping. The mother, Renee, told me that she, her son (Gregory), and her neighbor (Frank), were able to get out and leave, only to come back to a house that was wind beaten and doused with 27 feet of water. Sixty percent of their neighbors remained during the hurricane and 100% of them lost practically everything. Forty-seven people had to be rescued on their street from one of the few two story houses that was high enough to keep them from the rising flood. It’s been over four months since Katrina and this particular street has barely been touched. One resident commented that they felt like the abandoned street of Biloxi. The first images our team of volunteers saw was that of gutted houses, tarped roofs, trashed streets, and boxes or tents against the sides of the houses holding the few things that were found to be salvageable. It would be so easy for people like Renee just to give up, but their hearts wouldn’t have it. They are rebuilding and surviving. They have the attitude of Jesus and a faith in both themselves and in Him that just floors me. We might be coming to help them, but they continually ask what they can do to help us. For example, several people along the street we are building on go to help serve at the church mission set up to help volunteers and others in the community. It is Biloxi’s way of saying, “God bless you for volunteering to work.” But all I want to say is: “God bless you, for loving Jesus so much.” This trip has made me wonder I would have the same faith and endurance if Knoxville wasn’t there one day. My small group and I had a good discussion about this question. The comment was made that even though we are here now, we are still only experiencing Biloxi’s stories second hand. We have gotten past the media’s interpretation of Katrina, but we still haven’t experienced anything like this first hand. Would I have bounced back like they have been able to down here? Are enough of my treasures in Heaven so that if all I had was lost, you would know that my heart lies with Christ? I hope the answer to that question would be yes, and this trip has reminded me that now more then ever I need to live with my heart on fire for Christ not just on these mission trips, but everyday, regardless of whatever craziness I experience in my life. I want people to know where my heart lies, and that it lies with Christ.

- Leslie Wallace
Group Golf - Team 2


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