Sunday, November 19, 2006

D'Iberville, Mississippi



The picture above is the wall of water that swept into the coastal towns of Mississippi 15 months ago. Someone accurately described it as 'biblical'. For me it brings a whole new meaning to the phrase 'storm surge'. To many insurance representatives it is a tsunami as in, "We're sorry Mr. Jones, you have hurricane insurance and you have flood insurance but you do not have tsunami insurance."

Slowly that is a battle the insurance companies are losing in the courts, but when your case is way down the line and you are still living in a FEMA trailer in front of the shell of your home... there is not much comfort to be found in court cases.

My group went down and spent time laying tile, rerouting electric, setting up plumbing, dry walling, and cleaning out homes. Yes, over a year later there were some of us mucking out homes and bleaching walls.

One of the homes I worked in had 10 foot walls and our volunteers were peeling off seaweed that was stuck to the very top of them. They said that this home was absolutely cleaned out. All that was left was the foundation and the wood. The water had cleared out everything - drywall, furniture, memories - everything and left just the skeleton of the house standing.

Other homes weren't as lucky.


And yet there is a spirit in this town like we do not experience in the every day. There is a gratitude and a a sense of camraderie that those unaffected by tragedy rarely experience.

I have quite a few stories to tell. Here is one: All of the work crews would be taken around by bus to their assigned houses. At the end of the day we would get picked back up. Two groups were already on the bus when we stopped to pick up another crew. We watched as the tiny woman whose home they were working on while she lived in a FEMA trailer thanked them and laughed as one of our really tall guys got on his knees in order to receive a hug. Soon she ran ahead of them onto the bus and said over and over again, "Thank you, thank you. Pennsylvania people are now Mississippi people, thank you, thank you!" Then she proceeded to go down the bus and give each and every one of us on it a hug while continuing to repeat that phrase.

I didn't say anything - one cannot speak when choking back tears - but I did think to myself, "No, thank you." For I didn't understand why our help was still needed, until I got here.
I didn't know why I was leaving my family and my responsibilities to spend 4 days traveling and 5 days in Mississippi, until I got here.
I didn't realize how much I needed to be reminded of the good that is in people, until I got here.
I didn't realize how much I needed to work with my hands and see an immediate result, until I got here.
I didn't realize how much I needed to be reminded of the deep kind of faith that exists when people have only had God to cling to and God came through, until I got here.

It is almost a mission trip cliche to say that I received far more than I gave, but cliche or not I am blessed for having gone down to Mississippi. My only remaining question is when are we going back?

18 comments:

Songbird said...

I know just how you feel, although my trip didn't involve that kind of mucking out. I'll be there again in 38 days!

St. Casserole said...

Thank you for coming! Thank you for helping us! Thank you for wanting to come back!

Love you, too!

Cathy said...

Thank you for sharing your stories and reminding us that help is still needed. Blessings

PPB said...

I say, let's have a RGBP mission trip!

the reverend mommy said...

What a fabulous idea!!

Mary Beth said...

I'm there! Woohoo! We're all staying at St. Cass's and teh pajama party is about to start!

Quotidian Grace said...

An RGBP mission trip is a fabulous idea! I'm in!

Let's see if the RGBP board can organize one. We could go through one of the denominational agencies like Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.

Preacher Mom said...

Thank you for sharing.

Isn't it true that after working week after week in a vocations where nothing is ever "finished," doing something solid with your hands brings soooo much satisfaction!

Did someone say RGBP mission trip?

will smama said...

I am all for a revgal mission trip - not to mention the pajama party (although if Jo(e) comes I will be in the non-naked section). However, PDA pulled out of D'Iberville and told them leaders of the volunteer foundation that they were doing so by email.

If this did happen, I think St. Casserole would make an excellent contact and she can lead us to the group that is doing the best/most work.

Girl said...

Ooooo...I would TOTALLY go on a RGBP mission trip.

Thanks for the lovely post.

PPB said...

See what I get started? The only thing is can we go on a bus? Can you make sure nobody is drinking alcohol or necking on the bus? And threaten to call our mothers if we misbehave?

Muphinsmom said...

Thank you, for going, for wanting to go back, for sharing, for reminding.

Susie said...

Ooh, I would go to!!

What a great post, thanks. (officially delurking here...)

TheoOnTapintheBurg said...

I'm seriously considering going in Jan. One of the college kids from church wants to go. Want to come along?

Sue said...

Thank you so much for sharing this story.

RGBP mission trip??? YAY!! Sign me up.

Katherine said...

I always get cranky when I feel like great experiences match cliches... but I think in this case, it isn't so much cliche as truth. Being in mission is a blessing that pours out gifts in every direction.

Now let's talk about the RGBP mission trip...

St. Casserole said...

I welcome all of you! The need is great here. Too many people are in FEMA trailers. Not enough skilled (and honest) construction people to rebuild. People waiting for insurance and govt. help. Emotional problems from post trauma stress.

Come to Camp Casserole!
Either PDA or the Presbytery can work out details!

Anonymous said...

Still waiting our turn to be rebuilt. My 91-year old father is a WWII vet. My 81-year old mother a retired educator. We have them in a nursing home in Texas, PAID OUT OF POCKET. We were given $5,200 with which to rebuild the shell of a home. We continue to be told that the grant program is trying to get to all the folks first who are living on site, etc, etc, etc. Until there is a minimum of $40,000 in hand we don't dare attempt to purchase supplies and begin rebuilding their 950 sq.ft. brick home. // And ours is one of the LUCKY families!!! // Please, please keep coming back to Mississippi. D'Iberville is still 3 to 5 years away from being back to 100%. // Thanks. Judy H.S.