Thursday, July 31, 2008

Iowa-Day 3

The homeowner we worked with on day three was Leland, a man who moved into his home 7 months prior to the flood. He is a widower whos wife died 14 years ago. He lived in his home alone. He spent the entire day working with us, side by side. He even joined us at the church where we stayed for dinner and an evening worship service. What a great guy. We have another friend. He was enfolded into the group like he had been with us the entire time .We are all looking forward to tomorrow to working on his home.
Looks like home immediately following Hurricane Katrina. A Salvation Army truck stopped by Wedsnesday to deliver water and snacks. The man in the photos is a volunteer from North Dakota. He made 4 trips to the Coast to assist residents and deliver food and water to volunteers. 'It's like dejavue all over again.'
This is commentary from Michael Langer, church planter of One Ancient Hope:
It's funny that I actually thought I was the one who was going to come up with the ministry focus of the new church plant. Swinging sledgehammers and carrying molded drywall was not in any of the first drafts of my plans for the church. And that was just the problem, they were my plans - not God's... One thing this disaster has reminded me of is the providence of God - the ways in which this disaster is serving his purposes for the advancement of the message of hope that is offered in the gospel. I am acutely aware that these brief glimpses into the the way in which God is working through this event reveals the frequent fickleness of our hearts. Today I can say, "Wow, look at how God is in control, and in the midst of this situation." Yet, I will say tomorrow, in the center of my own world - where is God? Why doesn't he do something?" I pray that God would use this flooding of my hometown to encourage me to more faithfully trust in Him.
Kathleen Monti posing with 'code' electrical. This code was from 30's or 40's
We discovered after day one that we could work more efficiently and conserve more energy by having a ramp for the many wheel barrow trips down flights of stairs. Kathleen bought and donated this ramp which saved both time and backs.
Carol Waseilewski pulling nails. The pic below is Steven Passman, a sophomore from Milsaps. This is what I call his Jack Nicholson pose. Recalling the movie The Shining- "Here's Johnny."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Iowa-Day 2

I guess I put these in the wrong order. This pic was taken at the end of the day as we began to put the tools away. This picture is from the front bedroom looking into the living room. Everything had to be removed, bedding, appliances, furniture, clothing. Day two was spent pulling down the ceiling lath and plaster, also finishing the walls to prep them for pressure washing tomorrow. We were all very tired. At the 10:30 water break it was difficult to begin working after resting. The temperatures rose higher than yesterday and we were physically drained. Trying to remember to work smart and pace ourselves. We were able to interact with the home owner who arrives daily to talk and sort through items pulled out. Several family members stopped by to look and talk describing the loss of a family homestead. The home had been passed down 4 generations. They are uncertain wheather they will be able to repair as money is not as available from FEMA as was on the Gulf Coast. I talked with Shirley, the homeowner who gave us the 20.00 yesterday. She cried on the phone as she thanked us again for helping. She is handicapped and couldn't come to the home. She said she was so grateful, stating, "You'll never know how much I appreciate this."
Aaron posing as he complete an awesome move of pulling down the tin ceiling in the kitchen. What a mess. Water rose to the second floor and receded, depositing water which waited for the group from MS to pull down the ceiling and pour water on the volunteers working in the kitchen.
Entry to the basement. A dirt floor that was filled with sewage. We had to go down into basement and pull out the washer, dryer and other items. This part had to have been the nastiest part of the work. I'd trade 4 roofs (shingling them) for one muck out. At one time I swipe a bunch of the slimy junk off the top of the washer and almost became ill. Keri was down there for several hours yesterday.
A picture of one of the basement walls after debris removed. It was very small, dank, and scary.
Day two pile of debris on the side of the yard awaiting pick up from FEMA. We still have more to pull out and drag to the street.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Iowa Day 1-Hard Work and Ice Cream

It was officially day one for the group from Bay St. Louis/Waveland though they spent two days traveling. From the photos you can tell the similarity of the relief work on the MS Gulf Coast though for everyone on the team it was much different. Bringing God's lagniappe to those in need gives energy that motivates through the muck and the mire and the smell and the heat. Sewage came into every home and the smell can only be described as profound. Well, it was a great day. What a wonderful group of people desiring nothing but to serve. As I write this blog everyone is taking showers, cleaning the mess off. I am once again amazed at God's grace in calling each individual to come and serve and love doing this kind of work. Talking with Carol we agreed that we have a much greater appreciation (if that is possible) for the volunteers who come to the Coast. As a side note a really cool thing happened today. One of the residents was unable to come to the house to sign a release waiver because she had to take her daughter to the doctor. Instead she sent a note with her ex-husband (who was amazing to help all day) giving him authorization to sign on her behalf. She also included a $20.00 bill and a word of thanks. We were amazed at her generosity but what happened next blew us away. You have to remember that the area in which we are working is like the 8th and 9th ward in New Orleans after the storm. There are blocks and blocks of abandoned homes, resembling a ghost town. Within 10 minutes of opening the note we heard the sounds of what appeared to be an ice cream truck. We were astounded and dumbfounded to discover that it was actually an ice cream truck. The $20.00 was used to buy everyone an ice cream. Wow. God is good giving his grace of great fellowship and work and ice cream from nowhere. What it inspired in each of us was worship to the God of heaven who delights to delight his children and bring them joy in the midst of challenging circumstances. Praise God from whom all blessings flow, even ice cream from nowhere.


Last week Lagniappe had about 200 high school students from around the country come down for a Mercy in Missions Conference. After the one week we have now gather many photos during this time. Since so many have asked from them we have created a web album of and the link is posted here.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bay St. Louis in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

The team from Bay St. Louis, headed up by Keri Norwood arrived at Hope Evangelical Presbyterian Church in North Liberty, Iowa around 9pm tonight. I met them because I flew in from Orlando after attending my parents 50th wedding anniversary. Great party. Great flight. Only two hours verses two days driving that the team performed. Thirteen people are on the team. Keri, Carol, and I are the only Lagniappe staff. The rest are residents from BSL/Waveland who wanted to give a little Lagniappe to those in need of assistance. Due to the flooding in this region over 5,000 homes sustained significant damage. Arklie Hooten picked me up from the airport and gave me a tour of the area. It looked like New Orleans in the 8th and 9th wards. Tomorrow we begin gutting out of homes. Will fill you in as the week progresses. Thanks for your prayers. P.S. "The Weather is Here I Wish You Were Beautiful."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mr. Bill comes to Lagniappe!

It is so wonderful to have a sense of humor at Lagniappe! Lagniappe's chef, Elizabeth Holman, not only is a FABULOUS cook, but she has an AMAZING sense of humor! (And no, Mr. Bill did not really cut off Mr. Bunny's head.)

Incarnational Ministry at Trinity Pres., Jackson

Trinity Presbyterian Church of Jackson, MS held its' annual Mission Conference in April of 2008. John and I were invited to speak on the topic of "Incarnational Ministry", and after thinking long and hard about what that really meant, we decided that we would simply speak about God's calling on our lives to live out the gospel, particularly in the arena of our lives at Lagniappe. In God's sometimes amazing sense of humor, it just so happened that He sent several tornadoes through North Jackson on Friday at noon, just as John and I arrived in town. Several homes of Trinity families were severely damaged, and instead of speaking on Incarnational Ministry, we ended up demonstrating it, along with many of Trinity's members, as we took to the neighborhoods to clean up and help the families who had been impacted by the storm. Even one of Lagniappes' interns from last summer, Dee Temple, came quickly when we called on her to come help. Not many young women can wield a chainsaw as well as Dee! Lagniappe exists to participate in the restoration of all creation, and we were very privileged to participate in the restoration of Hinds County.

Mom of the Year at Lagniappe

Shown above are our Reservation manager, Cammie Chapman, and her lovely daughter Kate. They were spotted recently eating their vegetables for dinner, which in my book, makes Cammie Chapman "Mom of the Year"! We love you, Cammie and Kate!
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

With A Heavy Heart

Lagniappe this week lost a staff member and a dear friend. After two years of working at Lagniappe, Meri Spencer has returned to her home in Wisconsin to finish college. Enclosed is her letter which was left behind for us…

“I would just like to thank everyone at Lagniappe for making me feel at home these past two years I have been down here. I can’t believe this day is here! I can’t believe I am leaving! It seems like yesterday my mom, aunt and myself drove up to this place. I think about those first few days and compare it to now and how much has changed. Y’all have done great thing for this community as well as myself! You have given me a home unlike any other. A home full of friends, laughter, and fun. Y’all have given me prayer and support when things got rough as well and I would like to thank you so very much! I AM coming back as soon as possible, but until then I pray that the Lord will keep this place going stronger than ever. I can not say THANK YOU enough! God bless, Meri Spencer”

From all of the staff at Lagniappe to Meri, you shall miss you. You will be in our thoughts and prayers and we wish you the best of luck with college. May God truly bless.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Wanna Pray?

160 High School students, multiple job sites, 4 days....we need your prayers, starting right now, for a few things this week! 1. Protection and safety on the job sites 2. Respite from the heat (it is a consistent 95 degrees every day, with humidity you wouldn't believe) 3. Stamina for our construction staff, kitchen staff, interns, ect.... 4. God's blessing over the Word as it's preached every night We are so excited; we just know we can't do it without prayer.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Hebrews 13:14

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Covenant Pres – Little Rock, Arkansas

This week Covenant Pres from Little Rock, Arkansas has been working at both the Harry Favre and Seymour homes. Harry Favre's home
The Seymour house

Water Fight