Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A side trip to Camp Coast Care

Viewing a different face of the same disaster

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

8:30 p.m.

We are at Camp Coast Care at Long Beach on the Mississippi Gulf Coast with about 150 other people of all shapes and sizes. Last evening, we celebrated the Eucharist at Christ Episcopal Church, Bay St. Louis in a Quonset hut at the same location where Paul took the picture of the bell tower last fall on assignment for World Vision USA.

Bell tower remains at Christ Episcopal Church, Bay St. Louis, MS, mid-October 2005

Today, we did various tasks, from cleaning bathrooms to chopping vegetables. Paul learned that installing windows in brick houses is not as easy as installing them in wood-frame houses. He almost called Bob, his former employer and construction mentor.

I met a couple of people who are just now returning to what is left of their homes. In many cases, that's nothing.

The Lenten desert can be a lonely place. It also is not without humor, I've found, especially today.

Thanks for keeping us in your prayers.

Mindy and Paul

Sunday, April 09, 2006

St. Paul's Stories - We Begin

St. Paul's Stories

Hello all:

It's Sunday, about 2:15 p.m. We attended church this morning at St. Paul's temporary location, St. Martin's Episcopal School, which is in an area that did not flood. You all (well, most of you) would have been quite familiar with the service, from the Liturgy of the Palms to the recessional. It's the beginning of Holy Week, the most difficult week in our journey through the desert of Lent.

And, as Fr. Will Hood, the priest in charge here said this morning, the question being asked by St. Paul's is: "Will you journey with me?"

It is clear that this journey will be a difficult one for most folks, even those whoses homes were spared. We are staying in the Lakeview area with our incredibly gracious hosts, Philip and Natalie James. They waited out the storm and evacuated by boat when the levees broke and the water came up, but their home did not flood because it was located on higher ground.

That was not the case for about 8,000 other households that sat below the lake level. We've heard dozens of other stories from folks and have many more to listen to.

Driving in Friday night, we passed house after house after house after house that were nothing but frames surrounding broken windows and gaping doors. Those are the homes that have been "remediated," which means they have been stripped down to the studs and cleaned with bleach.

Others, with closed doors, hold inside upside down baby grand pianos; bedroom dressers that ended up in kitchens; and mountains of moldy memories -- family photos; heirlooms; books. You name it, it will eventually end up in a black contractor's bag and stacked up someplace in a landfill.

When folks here talk, they speak in terms of "Before Katrina" and "After Katrina".

Before Katrina, they lived pretty much like we do. Now, gas stations. and grocery stores, medical care and restaurants, all those things that used to be just down the street, are miles away.

Before Katrina, the people of St. Paul's had a big nave and sanctuary where they worshiped every Sunday (it filled with eight feet of dirty water and stayed for three weeks). After Katrina, they moved to temporary space; the number in their congregation dropped by two thirds.

Before Katrina, they had a school on the grounds, which also has moved to a temporary location. After Katrina, the school gym began filling up with relief supplies.

But the will to rebuild is strong. Fr. Hood says the journey of St. Paul's "is not about recovery, but about discovery." What a privlege it is to be able to be a part of this discovery. Author Nora Gallagher says taking a leap of faith is all about not knowing what is on the other side. It is a privlege for us to be just a small part of this discovery mission.

To all who have posted so far, thanks! We appreciate the support. More important though, is to keep St. Paul's and really, all of this city in your prayers.


Mindy and Paul

Thursday, April 06, 2006

St. Paul's Stories