Monday, October 03, 2005

Day One-- Kiln, Mississippi

* * * The following entries are post-dated, as there was no internet access for me while down in Kiln, MS. These are my journal entries for a Mission Trip I was part of from OCT 02-08, 2005. Hope Community Church in Raleigh, NC, coordinated with Samaritan's Purse to send us to Kiln, MS. * * *

It's hard to describe the devastation we saw firsthand today. As we were driving to our family's home, I noticed a pattern amoung all the trees... everything, and not just the trees, was bent. Power poles, and other manmade spires, if standing, were positively forced over in a weird sense of unison from the mighty winds of Katrina. Everything was pointing away from the coast.

Another thing that stood out in my mind is that no structure was spared. Every building, every home, was affected. Personal belongings were strewn everywhere. It's easy to call such detritus "debris", but the simple fact is that this "debris" was not carelessly thrown out-- it was blown out. Clothes and plastic grocery bags adorn the trees, like some weird sort of Christmas Tree decoration. The multi-colored arrangements will be in place for months, no doubt.

Our family's home is two miles from the coast. Two miles--and the storm surge brought seven feet of crystal clear ocean water into their home--flooding it completely. Nothing was to be saved--nothing. The family had already salvaged what was worth salvaging, the rest was a total loss. The previous team from HOPE began this project last week, but there is still much to do.

It was difficult to see the children's rooms. Well-loved toys were abandoned, along with myriad clothes and shoes. Our job was to clean it completely. Take it back down to the studs, removing all the sheetrock and flooring. The sheetrock in all the rooms had strange patterns of mold all over it. Multi-colored fungi grew on every verticle wall and under the floors as well. It was bizarre.

photo by Tony Luparello

We worked very hard today, and we're going back tomorrow to hopefully wrap this project up. Every muscle in my body aches from use. I know I'll sleep well tonight, provided the ear plugs hold up-- our leader snores. Loudly.

I know God is really at work in this community. The church where Samaritan's Purse is based has opened up their doors to us, effectively handing over the keys. We were told 78% of this county-- Chester County-- is un-churched, but Bayou Talla Fellowship is doing wondrous things for this community and people are showing up here for packed Sunday services.

My body is winding down-- the eyelids are growing heavier and heavier. I should get to bed and re-charge my bones, for tomorrow we do it all again.

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