Friday, October 31, 2008
The Arden Presbyterian (SC) team brought this 1927 Singer sewing machine that runs like a dream. The tag attached to the machine reads -- To: Sewing Women @ Laginappe Presbyterian Fm: Jay Migeras @ Arden Pres. The machine will be given to Donna Skinner, one of Lagniappe's home owners. Block and foundation work was the focus of the Arden volunteers this week in the community. They also entertained us as they danced with and pushed brooms cleaning in the main building here at Lagniappe.
For over 2 years, the Mockingbird has been the local coffee shop, burger joint, music venue, and living room for Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. You could not go without seeing a familiar face, and no matter where you were from, walking through the front door was like walking into your own home. Kat Fitzpatrick (a local artist) was quoted by the Sun Herald saying, "When many of us were living in trailers, it was our living room." For a lot of people, it still is. People who don't have an office do business there, and students study there. It's like the best part of a City Hall and a rural post office." It is where Lagniappe held our weekly staff Bible study, and where we went to meet about business, or escape business. Nicknamed "the Bird," the coffee shop / restaurant was the eclectic haven for folk music, art, Lazy Magnolia, and the best burgers in town. Any given day you could find the punk rockers, the prep-school students, the soccer moms, and of course someone on the Lagniappe staff sitting by a window. Monday morning, October 27th, patrons were shocked by a sign that read, "The Mockingbird will be closing its doors Friday, October 31st. Thank you for letting us be part of your lives." It was a blow no one anticipated-a sobering warning that this town's economy is fragile. No one could imagine downtown Bay St. Louis without the Mockingbird. So we prayed. Lagniappe spent the last week, corporately and individually praying for this coffee shop and their owners, Martin and Allicin Chambers. Why does a coffee shop matter so much? It matters because people matter, because culture matters, because art matters...because God cares about conversations over coffee or burgers and loves folk music! It matters because it served as a community center-a catalyst for relationships, and a place of beauty in the midst of chaos. The garden at the Mockingbird has, at times, been one of the few places in this city with green landscaping cascading over handrails and around foot paths...in a town under construction, green things become increasingly valuable. Thursday night was their final goodbye, the last night of music and food before they closed their doors. "Full cyrcle" band played, and the Bird ran out of food and beer by 8pm!! Allicin stepped the mic and the several hundred patrons quieted down, expecting a farewell speech...but through some tears and smiles Allicein managed a quiet "we aren't closing!" Little was heard after that. People's bank had come through to refinance them-recognizing the incredible importance of this cultural hub. The Phoenix came; the Mockingbird is staying open! It was a sobering reminder to all of us that Bay St. Louis is far from recovered. Small businesses are still in desperate need, and without them this town cannot hope to recover. But God is faithful, and we still have good coffee, great beer, and a living room on Second and Main. For more information check out http://www.sunherald.com/living/story/921029.html and http://www.sunherald.com/business/story/917288.html
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Popsicle season is almost over, and we are moving into the hot chocolate deliveries, but here is one of the last popsicle crews. These students are from Grace Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, LA. Grace also has a private school through the church, and the school sends anyone from the senior class interested in a missions trip! So the students get a week off of school and the opportunity to volunteer and learn many new skills. These students hung all of the insulation in Donna Skinner's house; thanks to their work all of the sheet rock is now hung and waiting to be finished!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
This week Lagniappe has been privileged to partner with a group called Training You in Mississippi. The program is a 6 week course in construction skills-including 3 weeks of classroom training and 3 weeks of on the job training. Training you teaches adults Hancock County valuable job skills, and even trains them for specific jobs that companies in the Gulf Region specifically requested. One of the greatest needs in Hancock County is job skill training. Training You has recognized that need and seeks to fill it in a unique way. Volunteers have come from all over the country to help rebuild the coast; Training You is equipping the people who live HERE to be able to give back to their own community. It is an incredible program that gives adults in this community an opportunity to give back while simultaneously equipping them for gainful employment. Oh, and the training is FREE!! Lagniappe has a lot of projects; Training You has a lot of skilled and semi-skilled people...one might call it Providence! The instructors will tailor their classes and education based upon our needs-meaning that we can ask them to do almost anything and they will take on the challenge as an educational opportunity for their students! They are currently hanging sheet-rock in Mr. Moore's house.
Monday, October 20, 2008
This week we have several teams hanging sheet rock, while others are setting block for a new foundation. We have had our first hint of fall weather, which is bringing a breeze and lower 80's temperatures for the first time in a while! The Lord continues to bring people, despite difficult economic times and busy fall schedules...we are incredibly thankful!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Sometimes things seem slow here; when the building is empty and our staff fill up only one table at lunch. On those days, I tend to panic. "Where are the people? How will finish the job? Does anyone remember?" This weighs espcially heavily on me as the "Resource Coordinator;" recruiting volunteers is my job! It is on those days that I walk to our main building and look around at the signs on the walls and remember that God brought all of those people; He will bring more. Then, like the 9 lepers, I often forget to return to Him in praise when our parking lot, lunch-room, and bunkhouses are full! This week we have volunteers from California, Rhode-Island, and North Carolina helping to hang sheet-rock and finish a foundation. We are especially excited that Ruth Friant's father is volunteering here this week! Ruth has shown him little mercy-sending him out to pour concrete and hang sheet-rock, but he has everything with a great attitude. Our Northern friends have been a little frightened of our bugs down here-apparently our dragon-flies are like F 250s, and our wood-roaches are the size of armadillos....but they are hanging in there! Popsicles have a way of making every day better, as the picture makes clear. Thank you to all the volunteers who have remembered and returned. Thank you to our Heavenly Father who has never forgotten, who never sleeps, and who will surely finish the good work He has begun.