With all of the recent network coverage of the 5 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I've been reminded of my time down there 5 years ago doing relief work. It all started after watching all of the coverage on TV. As a church staff, we were heart broken over everything and KNEW that we had to do something about it. So, we didn't know all of the details ... we didn't know how everything was going to work out ... we didn't even know if anyone would be able to go, but the Sunday after Katrina hit, we told our people that we wanted to take people and we needed to pay to get them there. One thing I LOVE about our church is when they catch a vision they make it happen. People were calling their bosses from church saying they needed to take time off. People came forward and gave money ... enough money to pay for a couple of teams to go down. It was INCREDIBLE! A day or two later, we were on our way to Alabama and Mississippi.
It was a "work" team, but one of the things we definitely tried to keep in mind was that for every tree we cut down, every branch we moved, every piece of trash we picked up, there was a person who we were helping. We tried our best to connect with people, pray with people, and simply bring a smile to people who had suffered so much devastation.
I was reminded of how "stuff" can just be gone in the blink of an eye. The pool above was just destroyed. The boat above was just destroyed. You would not believe the amount of trash we saw and the stuff that just lined the streets and the freezers of spoiled food we removed. I couldn't help but realize that "stuff" just doesn't bring happiness. It can be gone in moments.
I was also reminded of the amazing ways in which God works. The story behind the above picture is pretty cool. We arrived in Alabama late at night. We met with our contact person, got some instructions and had a plan for the next morning ... at least we though. We got out on the road and, seriously, drove for a few minutes when one of our trailers got a flat. We pulled over and just weren't sure what to do now. So, we prayed. And, then it was like our eyes were opened. Even though it wasn't what we were "supposed" to be doing, we saw needs all around us and were like, "Well, we're here and we're not going anywhere any time soon. Let's get to work." We worked in this specific area for hours and had so many great conversations with people and so many opportunities to pray for people. It was exactly where God wanted us to be at that moment.
I love the memories I had from that trip (except for maybe the chaffing ... yeah, that's not such a great memory.) :) It's amazing how God blesses us when we serve. There are just times when we give and we sacrifice and God's like "I'm just going to bless you for it." It felt so good to give and to serve and to help.