I'll write a little now, and hopefully some more later.
It has been really busy down here. Our days are pretty well loaded unless you happen to be lucky enough to be finished a little early at the home project for the day. Like today. We finished at Inge's house at just about 4 PM. We came back to the SUMA camp, unloaded our vans and took showers.
Taking showers can be interesting. THis week, we are staying in the same number of rooms as last week, but we have almost twice as many people. In my case, we have 4 men in my room and 4 men in the adjoining room, and we share a bathroom with a single shower. SO at the end of the day, the shower is a precious commodity. Some days, I have gotten right in, and other days, I have had to wait quite a while to get to the shower. Today, there were 3 peopel in line in front of me. But I have been busy receiving photos from this week's crew. We asked all who are here to give their photos to me, and I am in the process of uploading a lot of them to the web site. Look for a bunch more albums to appear over the next few days.
On Monday, we went to the Boykins' home where we replaced 5 windows. The Boykins had had two large oak trees in their yard which were knocked down by Katrina right into the front of their home. Thus they needed some windows replaced. At first, we had one team. Then another team arrived as they were delayed starting their assigned project. Then another team arrived, same problem. So we had 3 teams, about 17 people. How to put all to work?? Fortunately, the windows were on three sides of the house, so we had teams working on each of the sides. By the end of the day, we were back to one team of six people, and we had replaced all five windows. By noon on Tuesday, we had replaced the trim around the windows as well. So we were off to Inge Dahl's home.
Inge's daughter's home had been hit by the floating front of the church from across the street, which pretty much destroyed the kitchen. And the roof had taken a beating as well. The exterior had been rebuilt by another team, and we were to put up drywall and to put a new roof on the house, which had been badly damaged, and had one of the blue tarps over it that you see everywhere. So we got to work. The drywall was being done by the original crew on the site, and we joined them to work on the roof.
By the end of today, we had completed the roof, which felt great. Inge was very appreciative. She had coffee and donuts and cookies for us today, and asked each of us to write down our addresses so she could send us a Christmas card. Like many of the people we have worked for, Inge was very glad that we could do the work, as she had run out of other options to get it done. Each person has shown their appreciation in different ways, but you can tell they are really glad we are here helping. I heard that one gentleman broke down crying while trying to describe the damage to his home. People offer what they can to us, while we work to help them get out of the FEMA trailers and back into their homes.
Yet there is still a lot of damage around, and a lot of homes and other buildings were destroyed. We can't help them. So we continue to help those who we can help.
Our typical day is: coffee at 6 am, breakfast at 6:30 am, camp wide devotions at 7 am, group meeting at 7:45 am, loading equipment and supplies, and then off to the sites at 8 am, work until about 4 PM, back to the camp for showers and unloading of equipment and supplies that were not needed. Dinner is at 6:30 PM. Ww meet at 7:30 PM for the day's sharing of what happened, singing and group devotions, and we are done by about 8:30 PM. Most go to bed at about 9:30 PM, so you can see that there is not much time left for much else. It's a little hectic, so we grab time for things like this letter when we can.
The damage here continues to astound me. It is hard to comprehend what the people here have been through. The team is doing the best we can to help, but when we go home after 2 weeks, there will still be a lot to do. Some estimate that it could be 10 years or more before things here are back to "normal" if they ever will be.
Please continue to have us and the people of the Mississippi coast in your thoughts and prayers.