The first order of business today involved "housekeeping" chores for the church facility. As Bayou Talla Fellowship has effectively given Samaritan's Purse the 'keys' to the church, it's only fair that we sweep, mop, and clean the place daily as it gets easily soiled in the courseof a day here. Our entire team contributed, in order that we could finish up our first family's house together.
"The Pile" photo by Tony Luparello
note the cross on top
Our second assignment was a home on the shore of the Jordan River. The banks of the river rose rapidly during the hurricane-- I've heard one foot per hour. Even though this house rested on pillars ~7-8 feet off the ground, the rising flood eventually rendered the entire home underwater. In the aftermath, a neighbor in his boat actually ran onto the roof, as the structure was three feet below the water's surface.
The homeowners, George and Becky S. were present the entire time we were there today. George, originally from Lafitte, LA, was high-spirited and eager to begin work. Becky, more reserved at first, began to talk of all that she had lost in the storm. She would ascend the stairs and peer through the kitchen window from time to time watching our team work throwing the entire contents of their 35 years together onto an enormous pile growing in their backyard.
Becky's cat, we'd been told, was missing-- not seen since their evacuation. I discovered this poor creature as I was shoveling in the kitchen. As I went downstairs to break it as gently as I could, the animal was tossed onto the pile.
Becky was understandably distraught. George, armed with a black garbage bag wanted to see his cat and presumably bag it, in order that it might receive a proper burial, but the cat was irretrievable at that point. He simply said: "Let's cover it up."
The mud from the Jordan filled the tiny four-room house. The smell was almost unbearable, as the house had been shut up for five weeks. I wore a respirator (the cheap kind) and even with a dab of Vick's Vapor Rub under my nose, the stench found a way to my nostrils-- triggering the gag reflex more than once. I wasn't the only one struggling with this either. It was positively fetid.
The worldly possessions of George and Becky are now in an enormous pile. The mementos of far-away places were tossed out along with such mundane items as the dirty dishes and cleaning products. All of it--gone.
It is heartbreaking to see these folks struggling. They're survivors, to be sure, but my hope for them is that they'll be conquerors in the days and weeks to come. That they will rebuild their homes and piece their lives back together, and that somehow, they'll see the light of Christ in us.