We made it back from Birmingham safely this evening. What a great time we had! We had the energy of over a thousand teenage believers joining their voices together in praise. We enjoyed staying in a beautiful hotel. We laughed and cried and made new friends. I saw old friends and even some blog friends! The preaching and singing had my spirit soaring! Tonight when I drove our church bus into the lot at the Central Church of Christ, I must confess there was a bit of a sinking feeling. It's still there. The needs are still there. The scattered vans from various places are still there. The tools and piles of supplies are still there. The people who are spending the night in the church building are still there. Please don't get me wrong. I rejoice in how God is using us. I am truly amazed and humbled by the grace that is being lavished upon us. I can't believe the workers who keep coming, and I continue to praise God for their compassionate hearts. Still there, though. The piles of rubble along the street tell me that homes are being gutted. The featureless white campers that line our lanes tell me that entire families are crammed into aluminum boxes and trying to live there. The makeshift stairs and porch landings on the campers tell me of the crippled and elderly who struggle to get into their government provided shelter. And the tears ... yes, they are still there. They are the gritty reality of people who's greatest wish for 2006 is to walk through the doors of their own home and sit down on their own chair and know that it is all over. Because of those of you who are coming, praying, sending supplies and money - that dream will be realized. I hope each of you is fully aware of what an incredible impact is being made when you serve the strangers of our community. It is hard work. It is exhausting work. But one day an elderly lady ... someone's grandmother ... will lay her gray head down at night on a pillow in her own bed and thank God for you. A child will climb up into his father's lap in a chair in thier den and he will not know to pray for you. His heart will simply be content that all is well again. In this effort to restore, we also hope that a good word for Jesus will take hold and heal the broken life even as we rebuild the broken walls. The workers are still there. The mission is still there. And so we return from the mountaintop to the valley. Even in the valley, His light shines and He carries us in His strong arms. In the coming weeks I will be telling our story at the following locations. Come see us if you are in the area! January 11 - Broad Street Church of Christ, LaGrange, GA, Wednesday night class January 15 - Port City Church of Christ, Mobile, AL, Morning Worship January 29 - University Church of Christ, Monroe, LA, Sunday Morning Class Thanks for reading. Tonight we have a lot of people here in town. I'll probably leave someone out! A group of 20 young adults from the University Church of Christ in Conway, AR are here. (Below is a picture of one of their deacons, Rick Sublett, cooking fish). A group of boy scouts from Crieve Hall church of Christ in Nashville are here. Two sisters are here from South Carolina. I'll find out tomorrow if I've left anyone out!