Saturday, September 17, 2005

Hands and Feet

Here is part of a report written by Mike Osburn, a Cross & Crown volunteer, after last weekend's trip to Louisiana with a group of nine other people from Quail Springs Church of Christ. Actually most of the people who went on this trip are also familiar faces at Cross & Crown where they come to help by serving meals, participating in work days, praying with those who come to the mission, sponsoring families at Christmas and helping with the School Store ...

Mike's report and his pictures about the experience must be shared. We thank all of them for taking vacation time from their jobs, leaving their families and dropping all activities to do this work ... to be the hands and feet of Jesus

"Last weekend a group of folks from my church here in Oklahoma traveled to Slidell, Louisiana, to assist in some of the recovery effort. If you are not familiar with Louisiana geography (which I wasn’t), Slidell is on the NE shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Recalling the hurricane, when it came ashore, it “sucked” all the water in the lake toward New Orleans, thus, the levies failing and all of the flooding in New Orleans. However, as the storm moved further ashore, it “released” and even pushed the water in the lake back toward the north shore. In the attached pictures, you can see that the neighborhood we worked in is right on the lake. Slidell certainly received its share of wind damage, but to compound matters even more, the water level rose 15 to 20 feet and submerged that neighborhood in the storm surge of Lake Pontchartrain. Most of the houses had anywhere from 5 to 6 feet of water in them at one point. (Walk around your house holding your arm straight out in front of you. If you lived in Slidell, everything at or below your arm would have been instantly destroyed.) And, the flood didn’t bring with it just water. All of the mud and muck from the bottom of the lake also stayed behind after the water receded. Most of these houses sat vacant and without power and wet for 10 days before anyone arrived back to begin cleanup. The smell was awful. The stuff in the refrigerators and freezers was rotten. The mold and whatever else was a phenomenon. And mud covered everything.

Most of the pictures are self explanatory but I just wanted to point out a few things. You may ask “how can such a small group really make a difference with all that destruction?” Well, in the grand scheme of things, the impact was miniscule. There will be enough work for everyone who has a heart to help for years to come. But for the 6 families that we were able to help, by moving all of their furniture to a pile on the front lawn, by tearing up their carpet and moving it to the pile on the front lawn, by “squeegeeing” and scoop shoveling all of the mud outside, by helping them try to salvage some heirlooms, by literally removing cars from the front doors … the impact was enormous. We did not begin work on a house until we prayed for and with the family that lived there and the others affected. We did not end work on the house until we prayed for and with the family that lived there and the others affected. We arrived to meet desperate people with more work in front of them then they could possibly get their arms around. As we departed each and every house, the occupants bid us a tearful goodbye and a “God bless you.”

Through this experience, I truly believe that these people were able to see God at work as they began to put their lives back together. I believe we also were able to show them that God loves them and also provide a little bit of hope to some very, very, distressed folks in what remains an awful situation. I do not intend to boast about the work that we did. God used us as His instruments to make a real difference in the lives of some people who desperately needed help. As a result, despondent people got some much needed assistance and we were energized as God was glorified. He touched some people (and continues to touch people) in ways that they have never experienced before, including us. Indeed, to a person, our group feels that we were blessed as much by this experience as the victims we were able to help. All of the credit and glory goes to Him.

FYI, the photos that look like just an open field with debris strewn about … that’s not a field. That is a tributary of Lake Pontchartrain. In other words, its WATER under all of that stuff … including under that Winnebago you see sticking out of the top. (Actually, I think the Winnebago is teetering precariously on the edge.)" - Mike Osburn


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