Even so, it is well with my soul

I have to be the most spoiled volunteer on the Gulf Coast right now. I have just moved into a vacant, and rather large, room, occupied by only yours truly. This is a tremendous luxury, to room alone. My team is actually the only team left at the church right now, and the pastors and coordinators are welcoming the down time because next week they'll have over 100 people here. Now, they have about 7.

On my last trip to once beautiful Waveland, I noted that I had little to no emotional response to all the destruction. I simply saw a need and wanted to help--volunteer mode from the get go.

This has been an entirely different trip. Sunday, our team was able to visit Louisiana. We had a lovely day off. Monday was a breaking point. I don't know if it's because this trip I'm driving (seeing more damage) or if it's just inevitable that at some point a person would crumble under the weight of all the loss, either way it happened yesterday. I was running an errand back to the church for the team and simply became undone by house after house after house completely decimated by the unexpected storm.

Maybe it's because I saw "before" pictures on Sunday. The homes that were destroyed just along the coastline (eight miles long) and barely inland (three miles wide) were the most beautiful 5,000+ square foot homes. Then to see ruined cement slabs stand in their stead was overwhelming.

Also on Sunday, I was able to hear more stories of those who've overcome this force of nature. One of my favorite people here, Janette, was telling me about what she's been through post-evacuation. She and her husband Al were staying with their daughter and son-in-law quite a ways away when she decided to go shopping. "I'm a power shopper," she said, "and I saw a Pier One and got really excited. I went inside and saw all these cute things that would go so well in our home when all of the sudden I felt like someone punched me in the gut. I nearly fell over, my reaction was that physical, and I thought, 'Oh my gosh, I don't have a home.'"

This followed by a conversation with Delia, whose house our team is currently hanging drywall in. Delia said, "I feel like I've died. I see the progress, but I can't get excited. It's just as though I'm outside myself watching all of it happen with no feeling whatsoever."

These conversations greatly contributed to the perspective I had on Monday. I drove around and saw the homes for what they were: stories of human loss. But in all these things, the one thing that these amazing "more than conquerors" all say is, "I know God has a plan. I don't know what it is, but I trust Him. He's a good God who has always provided everything I've ever needed."

These are about the most incredible people I've ever met. They're dealing with deep and completely surprise loss, but are so strong in their faith and their conviction that God is bigger than any damage Katrina could ever accomplish. They humble me so far beyond my expectations.

That's all I've got for now. We've got an extremely full, and last, work day ahead of ourselves. Please pray for the team, if you can. We'll be hanging as much sheet rock as we can in about 12 or more hours. We really want to see most of John and Delia's house complete. It would be incredibly satisfying.

In the meantime, if you can ever manage to get away, you must come out here. Not only will you see more of God's greatness than you could imagine, but you'll be infinitely blessed by the wonderful people of Hancock County, Mississippi.

Posted by Portia at February 7, 2006 10:08 PM | TrackBack