So easy to preach Advent this year. We are all forced to be living testimonies to waiting and watching….on many days it’s all we do.
I was very proud of our local gov. folks giving it to Congress in hearings this week. Much of the recovery work has slowed or has not even started because we cannot get funding. The GREAT FEAR of being forgotten looms over us, and the reaction of congress-people from other areas is disheartening. I wish they would all come for a visit, see it for yourselves, work in the relief center, talk to the folks still coming for the basics of life. Spend the night in a FEMA travel trailer with 6 family members, if they dare, or better yet on a tent on a slab because you STILL WAIT for the trailer long promised, which they can’t deliver, by the way, because the debris they promised to move off your lot 4 weeks ago still sits.
The job is TOO massive folks. It will take more time and more resources and more people and more money than ANYTHING WE’VE EVER HAD TO DO BEFORE. You can’t judge by past storms, you can’t judge by the 4 that hit Florida last year, one Katrina has done more than all those combined and then some.
So we wait….and watch…..and wonder if anything we are doing is the right thing….
My office trailer has been setup! A bunch of great volunteers moved it last week. The furniture has been installed. We just need ELECTRICITY to be functional. Maybe soon….
I posted last time about media blitz – and now there is MORE. My LW and I and George Werner are on the cover of our diocesan newspaper and the same pic is page 2 of Episcopal Life. Plus the LW’s pic with this so cute baby in the medical clinic is on a full page add from erd. Sigh, the paparazzi are all over us!
We spent Thanksgiving in SE Florida with family, then traveled to Marco Island on the SW Coast where I preached on Sunday. Their rector is the former rector of my church and he has been incredibly supportive and involved in our recovery. If you go here you can listen to that sermon (and others).
Restore us o God, let your face shine, that we may be saved…..
Again the Psalms speak to me in this terrible time.
Thank you all for your prayers and continued support. They mean more they I can say.
It’s been a very interesting few days. It’s Seabury Reunion time at Camp Coast Care. One classmate arrived last Friday and two others came on Monday, a fourth arrives tomorrow. They are all WORKING VERY HARD! I am so proud of them, and so very grateful that they are here. It is interesting, also, to preach in front of them, but mostly it’s FUN.
They are so helpful to me. I tell people all the time that I don’t have a &^%$* clue what I am doing. Bouncing things off of good friends whose advice I covet and appreciate is helping me with some struggles. Plus, I can let off steam around them and be comforted.
Today I drove two of them around the beach area, with a parishioner of one. I have made that journey countless times since Aug 29, but it is still hard. I am a little numb to the damage, and today I could even see some signs of advanced debris cleanup, but the task is SO huge. Couple that with the unexpected cold snap, and folks around here are deeply struggling. And I confess – I am whipped. I am tired and confused and drained and questioning. The hugs from friends are much needed these days.
As to “media star”, my very unflattering picture is on the cover of both the Arizona Episcopalian and the Virginia Episcopalian – and today I was interviewed by the local newspaper. I am SURE I will be misquoted (that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it). Anyway, it is very, very WEIRD to be in those papers, and I have received calls already from people and churches in both dioceses wanting to help. So THANKS to my unknown Arizona and Virginia friends!
I think I’ve mentioned before how different preaching is these days. Not just from the post-hurricane standpoint, but also because we often have 40 or more guests – volunteers serving at our relief center. They live in the gym where we hold services. They bring energy and enthusiasm to the service, they laugh at my old jokes, and they cry – a LOT.
We are blessed to have them and they influence what I say each week.
Last Sunday’s All Saint’s sermon included the volunteers in a big way. I will post a link when it gets online (yes, I am audio recording sermons again).
Jane Ellen asked me to post the new congregational prayer. It is glommed from various sources, some to do with new church plants, some with new buildings, etc. We will use it for church services and vestry meetings. I have asked my vestry to keep it in their cars and pray it as they investigate various real estate properties around town as potential church sites. It is posted below.
Meanwhile, please keep praying and coming. The work is so long and hard and overwhelming. I was back at church site today. It is still so hard to go there. The debris and the smell and the absolute RIDICULOUSNESS of how much is destroyed is beyond the senses.
FEMA reported today that Katrina had the highest ever recorded storm surge – over 35 feet in Pass Christian, which is where I live and 5 miles from my church. We never had a chance. The surge was more than 10 feet higher than Camille, the previous monster storm. All the more reason to pray:
O Lord God of Israel, the heavens cannot contain you, yet
you are pleased to dwell in the midst of your people, and
have moved us to set apart a space on which to rebuild a house
of prayer: Send us your Spirit, that we may learn what you would have us do and the words and
witness you would have us offer, Guide us as we continue your work;
show us the field in which to plant that your Kingdom may come and your power be revealed in this community; to the glory of your Name. Amen.
Lots of activity on the church rebuild front this week….
The folks who run the Industrial Park very near where we currently meet at the school, have graciously allotted us over 2 acres to use for a temporary location! This is most exciting. We will move the office trailer over there next week, and should be able to occupy it by the end of the week. Next up – finding temporary worship space to put on the same property.
Meanwhile we are awaiting word from gov. officials regarding feasibility of rebuilding on the beach site, and we are also checking out property north of the beach should we so choose. I put together a prayer, glommed from several sources, for our folks to use during this time of discernment over where we should build.
The relief center and medical clinic are actually busier now than ever. Probably because many other such sites have closed recently.
CNN and Time want to interview my LW, who has made this miracle happen at the medical clinic. It is amazing what has gone on and the numbers of people served.
Saints fill our relief center everyday. They come from all over and each is changed by their being here. The gospel gets preached powerfully 24 X 7. I am privileged to get to watch and listen.
More seminary friends are coming soon – YEA! And our new friend, Jen H. left Thursday (booo!). She was the perfect saint – working in the clinic during the day and doing stuff for us around the house at night, laundry, cleaning, etc. What a blessing she is to us! COME BACK SOON!
CNN has been running more stuff on the Miss. recovery, including a video diary by a senior at Long Beach High School (Long Beach is where my church was / is). If you missed it, some of the video is on cnn.com. It will make you cry.
See ya, Saints…