I'm not sure why I thought that life would slow down a bit in the New Year. For the moment, I'm grateful for a few minutes to write. After months of planning and frustration, the mission trip from our church to the Texas Gulf coast actually came off the weekend before last. We were the first group to stay in the new Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Volunteer Village at Texas City. As it turned out our arrival was an answer to the prayers of the brand new manager, Doug MacDonald, who, with Mike Kelly, had been working to ready the place for our arrival. There was no way the two of them could have accomplished all of the tasks that needed to be done in the time they had between their arrival and ours. The bunk and shower trailers pulled in from further east along the U.S. coast needed cleaning after coming out of storage, and also needed to be hooked up to sewer, water and electricity. The pots and pans and utensils also brought out of storage needed cleaning as did the kitchen at First Presbyterian Church in Texas City, which had agreed to allow the volunteer village to set up on their grounds and use their facilities. Somehow when God is involved in the planning things come together. So we showed up with folks who knew how to do plumbing and electrical work and construction as well as one man who was able to hook up a giant industrial gas stove in the kitchen. Add to that the magical cleaning genies (my name for the amazing women who spent their time cleaning anything that didn't move out of the way), and the amount of work that was accomplished from noon Friday through Saturday afternoon was nothing short of miraculous. Doug provided us with bright blue T-Shirts that said Presbyterian Disaster Assistance on the front and on the back--Out of Chaos, Hope. We managed to bring some hope in the chaos of the village so that other volunteers coming after us can bring hope in the chaos of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Ike. It was an humbling experience to be thanked by strangers who saw our shirts in church and at dinner for offering hope for the future simply by our presence. We came home tired, but ready to make plans to return again for the important work of helping to rebuild peoples' lives in a disaster area. There is still much work to be done, and many more volunteers are needed. If you want to help, call Penny Noel in the PDA housing office at 1-866-732-6121 and make your reservation. Groups of five or more adults from any organization are welcome. You don't have to be Presbyterian to sign up. I promise you will be blessed as we were as you in turn bless others.
Grace and Peace,