Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A message from the drivers seat:

Our second day of work together I was “elected” to fill the very big shoes that Joe Fielden had filled from the pre-planing stage to the afternoon of the second day of work. Driving the coordinators support/supply truck gave me a unique look not only at our work, but at the community. I met many of the residents we were helping and was able to listen to their stories. Stories like this one... “There were 11 of us and the dog who spent hours in our attic wondering if the water would ever stop rising. We were thinking of swimming for the big pecan tree at the corner of our lot but only two of us could swim, three if you include the dog. And all this time the wind was tearing at the roof and slamming things into the house. Then we spent the next two weeks with nothing to change into, no water, no food, and when help finally came they set it all up on the other side of the bridge 3 miles away and told us to walk - I’m 73, so’s my wife, and with no water, no food, no car to drive, and no place safe to stay, how was I suppose to get to help on the other side of the bridge!”
This was not the only such story, they went on and on. I also was able to get a look at each of the roofing crews. Each one was special in its own way. All were willing and wanting to do a good job. All were talking to the owners and listening to their stories and to their hopes for the future. All experience a startling grace from the people of the neighborhood they were working in. All worked hard to do what they could to help. All were being gracious very hard working parts of the body of Christ.
I also had the privileged each day to have lunch prepared by homeowners. Now, those of you who weren’t there understand something. There are no kitchens except in the FEMA trailers. But when I visited several of the homes the owners had set up tables with table cloths in what remained of their living rooms, set out pizza, hot dogs, bread, cold drinks, cookies, snacks, anything they had - and much of it was borrowed or scourged by people who still had very little or nothing. They were feeding us as well as or better than they were eating. They were offering hospitality to those who were in their homes in the very best ways they could. The words “amazing grace” come to mind many times.
As I drove around I also looked at the homes we had finished the first day or so. Even without inside walls, kitchens, working bathrooms, or furniture, some people were moving back in! Sleeping on the floor, drinking from bottled water, using the working bathroom down the street in a neighbors FEMA trailer, they were HOME! If that’s not a sign of the hope we were able to give what could be?
God truly is good - all the time. I was very proud of our work and our workers. But remember, pride in what you can do in God’s name is righteous pride only if you follow it up with “Who get’s the glory? God does! God does! God does! There were well over 200 people from our group and others who were doing just what God would want us to do as we struggle in this fallen world to love God with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength and love others as we love ourselves. Praise God and, now that we know what we can do and how to do it, get ready for spring break... see you on the roof.

Rev. Rob Mellgard
Pastor New Hope Presbyterian Church
Christmas Break Katrina Mission Trip CEG - Chief Executive Go-for.


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