Saturday, September 17, 2005
They really are just trinkets. A vase, a picture, a quilt, or a book ... just trinkets representing a life. My life. Our lives. Yet these trinkets now take on an inestimable significance. To you they might even seem like worthless junk. But even if you are right, they mean a lot to us. I was thinking about this while about to go to bed last night. My wife salvaged a quilt, washed and dried it, and it now sits on the fold-out bed we are sleeping on. It's not a home-made quilt. You can buy one just like it in a department store near you. But it is ours. It used to spread across the bed we used to own ... the one that now rots in a dumpster somewhere. There is some measure of comfort in that store-bought quilt in our borrowed quarters. The trinkets that used to hide in drawers and closets are now highly valued treasures. They are a kind of hieroglyphics of our past. We hold them, examine them, revel in the memories created by them, and we thank God for them. And before I get too unhappy about anything I'm going through at the moment, I can always look down the street at the people living in tents in their front yards. They are grateful for the tent, I imagine. Yet, I have a wonderful room to call home ... and more blessings to come. I pray that for our Coast community there are many more blessings to come. UPDATES Tomorrow we will worship in our building, for which we give thanks. We have more people working from more places than I can name … and I hope they know how grateful we are. Please adjust your address books and send all e-mail communications to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. I’ll be checking those two addresses. The bellsouth address will likely go away … but at this point I’m not sure. Thanks to those who have sent personal contributions to my family. They have been such a blessing to us. We have unexpected expenses due to the storm, and these gifts have filled our hearts with prayers and love. We are just astounded at the following item! A brother has purchased for us a new camper in which to live while our home is being repaired. I am speechless! I will post an address soon if you would like to join him in the project. I do not even know this brother! He is willing to pay the full price … but welcomes any participation if you wish. Now… I have to purchase a vehicle that can tow a camper! My truck was totaled out ( it was flooded in Katrina), so I have some money to put down. This is one of those unexpected expenses that we will face. But we are thankful, still. I would guess that hundreds of volunteers have flooded the Gulf Coast with help. Someone said today that the ‘church of Christ’ is ‘out in the community, not just serving people at their building’. I am happy about that. Our building looks like Wal-Mart … food, clothing, supplies we have it all … at an everyday low price: $0. We are supplying hotdogs and hamburgers to the community, as well as ice and other supplies. One of our men and his wife are overseeing this massive project. They have been quite a blessing to our entire community. As has been stated before, manpower and money remain the two greatest needs. As time goes by, our members (and community) will need to replace all appliances, furniture, bedding … really everything. FEMA will help some, insurance will help some, but many fall between the cracks. Thanks to everyone who has sent donations – both individual and congregational … personal and for the church. We are now receiving mail, so any correspondence can be sent to the Central Church of Christ in care of: John Dobbs 1715 Williams Street Pascagoula, MS 39567 Our church has a P. O. Box and I do not know when the post office will be restored…it is destroyed. This is long, and I hope to be able to update more often … at least that’s my hope. God bless each of you. Thanks for your wonderful encouragements. We would be terrified if not for God’s presence, and the helping hand of His people.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
It has been seven days since my last post. Much of this week has been spent trying to gut my house, help with the groups coming in to offer support to us, and a thousand other details. We are now located in one of our Deacon's home. He has a one room apartment that the three of us are sharing. It is cramped, but it is a place to lay down and sleep. We are very grateful to these dear friends. Our church building resembles a grocery store. We have had groups from Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and Mississippi in to help. I would like to give credit to everyone, but I didn't write it all down ... maybe I can remember more later. One of our insurance adjusters should arrive tomorrow to deal with our automobile losses. The house insurance adjuster has not arrived yet. I feel that FEMA or someone will condemn our home as they start looking at replacing ceiling, floors, and walls, but I do not know. The needs remain the same... manpower is in short supply. In the stage where we are now, those who can hang drywall, paneling, and such will be in special need ... probably for the next month. There is still plenty of work to be done that just about anyone can do ... we're just exhausted. We work a few hours and then the fresh crew takes over. Today we had our first post-Katrina worship at Central. Brentwood Hills church sent a tent that we met under. We had about 50 or so there, including some community members. It was pretty neat. We had a nice cool breeze and a good spirit. I preached from Nehemiah the first two chapters ... Five words we need to rebuild our broken lives: Mourn, Confess, Trust, Work, and Hope. This afternoon we drove to Mobile to get away from the piles of debris on the roads and just get away from everything. We had a nice meal and a great afternoon at Chris Lockhart's home. We met with their small group and ate, then headed home. I'm typing from his computer. I have no internet access in Pascagoula. I am getting daily calls on my cell phone (228 - three two four - 0576) with offers of help and such. Please continue to send financial contributions to Gateway as listed below. We will all have great financial needs in the very near future. I cannot answer emails in a timely manner at this point. I do not know when I will be able to update the blog, either. Congratulations to my great friends Danny and Terri Dodd, who have a new baby daughter born yesterday. We love you guys and can't wait to see baby Jordan! If you have a home, with your own chair, your own bed, your own pillow ... when you go to bed tonight, thank God. The comforts we take for granted have been snatched away from most of us here on the Coast. Still, we feel blessed and hopeful.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
Worship at Gateway was wonderful this morning. Ed Humphries led an outstanding set of worship songs. Danny Dodd's message recounted the hurricane relief efforts of the past few days and upcoming days. All of the hurricane refugees were invited to the front where the elders gathered around and prayed for us - and all of the hurricane victims. Then Bud and Eva Myer treated our family to a wonderful lunch in their beautiful home. We are pretty washed out, and apprehensive about getting back to the grind tomorrow. I think about the people who didn't have a Sunday respite ... who didn't take a break...and couldn't. PICTURES ARE NOW UP ON MY WEBSHOTS PAGE. See link to John's Photos on left. Tomorrow we will leave from Pensacola at 5:30 a.m. to head back to Pascagoula to work. Perhaps we will get through with getting the wet carpet and mattresses out of the house. I don't know where we will go from there. I keep thinking about things we need to do, and then it hits me that we are homeless. And until that issue is settled, everything else seems pointless. Thanks for many offers of housing for our members. We have had offers from Canada, Colorado, and places even closer! That's awesome. I have not had any requests for out-of-town housing, but I will keep all of those e-mails and be aware of any needs such as those. I have been wanting to blog about something, and this seems a good time to do it. It was going to be announced at church last Sunday, but the storm hindered that. I think word is getting out anyway. Our congregation was suffering a financial shortfall, and it had been agreed that I would seek out secular work, and preach part-time. However, with the arrival of Katrina, we will have even less resources. This has several implications, which I'm sure are clear to you. That's a personal insight into my world, in addition to the physical destruction around. If Ben or Gary are reading this, please give me a call ... I want to talk to you some more about what you called about. Paul, if you have further ideas, you need to call me. Now for an update as to what's happening here: *Churches of Christ Diaster Relief is sending an assessment team in tomorrow to determine their ability to help with our needs. Their hope is to provide hot meals from our property, which will be awesome. They have helpers / generators on the way. *Work teams from Gateway, Pensacola, will be heading to the Mississippi Gulf Coast tomorrow. *I understand that the crew from Louisville, KY may be coming in as early as Tuesday. *A group from Conyers, GA will be in Friday. NEEDS I was able to visit with some of our members yesterday. They have much damage, such as I do, with flood waters. If 300 people came to help, I'm sure they could stay busy. Manpower and money continue to be the biggest needs. However, anyone who comes needs to bring a tent, as we have no accomodations at all. I wish it were different. Or you could arrange to stay in Mobile with Christians. These are a list of needs from yesterday's post: Financial contributions can be sent to: Gateway Church of Christ 245 Brent Lane Pensacola, FL 32503 (earmark it for Pascagoula, if you wish - or whichever congregation you would like to give to. A contribution not earmarked will likely be distributed based upon need.) *Once our building is cleared, we can begin to form an area for storing and sharing materials, food, water, limited clothing, and having worship services. I hope to offer a daily chapel as well for our neighborhood. I would even love for groups to come and do work in the neighborhoods, inviting people to daily chapel in the early evening. Some collections could be made for coffee, coffee filters, coffee cups, sugar, creamer, to offer to our guests for conversation following the chapel service. Area preachers / deacons / speakers / singers / groups welcome to volunteer to come over and speak to whoever might show up! *Once our building is cleared we will need plastic tables (hard plastic, sturdy) and chairs for use at both worship times and for feeding people. We have nothing like this at the time. At some point we will need to recover our floor. I am going to suggest that we use lamiant (sp?) instead of carpet. Also, we have a curved floor (theater style), and I would like for it to be flat. Any concrete workers out there? *No doubt it will be some time before flooring and order is back in place at Central. I would like to borrow the use of a nice camper / small moveable trailer that can be used as a temporary office / staging area / communications center. *I am in need of replacing a flooded car (and my daughter as well has to replace her car). Any reputable Christian car dealers who can help us? We will have some insurance money ... at some point. *When our building is clear we can begin accepting material donations ... I will list those at that time ... water, MREs, and ice are offered by the government and are available. I would think maybe t-shirts, shorts, socks. Plus care packages with hand sanitizer, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, wipes, gum, etc. Also, diapers (including adult diapers) and feminine needs would be a great thing to have on hand. Anyone who wishes to help with this can go ahead and begin assembling personal care packages in preparation to send them down. Put them in clear ziplock bags, so we can see what is in them. If the crew from KY and GA are successful in getting our building back up and running, we could have services Sunday. However, we have no seating / tables - these will become immediate needs. We would like to buy / receive the plastic tables, as they are easier to manage. NEW NEEDS I do not know how our sound system came out ... will know more when power arrives. We might need some kind of portable amplification system temporarily until we can get up and running. If I had a towbar on the back of my van and a trailer, I could be of more help in getting gas into the area as well as transporting things donated to appropriate places. I do not know much about what is involved in these areas. We are not alone in our suffering. For information about the Long Beach Church of Christ: http://longbeachcoc.org Other Gulf Coast churches are suffering as well ... and if I get internet info about them in particular, I will pass along. Well, this is getting long ... thanks for your interest and your gifts and your prayers. I'm practicing just placing our needs out here...and asking. I do not feel good about it...it's easier to be a giver than a receiver. However, I hope to help others in the mean time, with the things we receive. I appreciate all of your thoughts. Your ideas are also welcomed. Blessings to all, john
Saturday, September 03, 2005
Help Is On The Way
No doubt, help is on the way. The flood of emails and calls and comments has left me just speechless. The generosity of the Christian spirit is so alive in the church today! The extent of this tragedy just leaves one speechless ... numb. It truly seems impossible to stage a 'come back' from this. On a personal note, today we gutted about half of my house. The other half will be Monday. Tomorrow we will have to rest. Were it not for the amazing brothers at the Gateway church of Christ in Pensacola, FL, I would be sitting on my porch not knowing what to do. Money given to organizations is good, but not best. Please direct all financial contributions to them at: Gateway Church of Christ 245 Brent Lane Pensacola, FL 32503 (earmark it for Pascagoula, if you wish - or whichever congregation you would like to give to. A contribution not earmarked will likely be distributed based upon need.) So many have asked me, "What do you need?" So, I will begin making lists here ... updating them as information changes. I can only speak for the Pascagoula area in this blog ... others have drastically different needs. IMMEDIATE NEEDS *Manpower. Debris lines our streets. People are clearing wet moldy carpets from their houses. Some without any assistance. Yards are littered with limbs, sometimes downed trees. There is no subsitute for manpower in these times. *We need to get our church back up and running. Our building is waterlogged. We need to remove carpet, floor tiling, appliances, pews. We do not currently have power, so this is a daunting task. At this point, all of our members are saturated with work at their homes. I believe if we could have services tomorrow, people would come. *We have groups coming in this coming weekend from Conyers, GA, Louisville, KY, Pensacola, Fl, and possibly Lake Charles, LA. This small army of voluteers will help get some of our members homes cleared out, debris in the neighborhood, and get our church building operational again. They will bring tents and food ... as we have no accomodations. NEEDS FOR WHEN OUR BUILDING IS CLEARED *Once our building is cleared, we can begin to form an area for storing and sharing materials, food, water, limited clothing, and having worship services. I hope to offer a daily chapel as well for our neighborhood. I would even love for groups to come and do work in the neighborhoods, inviting people to daily chapel in the early evening. *Once our building is cleared we will need plastic tables (hard plastic, sturdy) and chairs for use at both worship times and for feeding people. We have nothing like this at the time. At some point we will need to recover our floor. I am going to suggest that we use lamiant (sp?) instead of carpet. Also, we have a curved floor (theater style), and I would like for it to be flat. Any concrete workers out there? *No doubt it will be some time before flooring and order is back in place at Central. I would like to borrow the use of a nice camper / small moveable trailer that can be used as a temporary office / staging area / communications center. *I am in need of replacing a flooded car (and my daughter as well has to replace her car). Any reputable Christian car dealers who can help us? We will have some insurance money ... at some point. *When our building is clear we can begin accepting material donations ... I will list those at that time ... water, MREs, and ice are offered by the government and are available. I would think maybe t-shirts, shorts, socks. Plus care packages with hand sanitizer, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, wipes, gum, etc. Also, diapers (including adult diapers) would be a great thing to have on hand. I would think that most people lost most of their clothes. We did. Clean clothes to work in would be nice. *Ideas. I would like for us all to pool ideas, come up with ways to use this terrible event to bring the gospel to the most people possible. That's all I can think about right now. My couch, chair, beds, and tons of other stuff is on the curb in front of my house. It's just the beginning. My body hurts and I'm going to bed early tonight. I will worship with the Gateway brothers and sisters tomorrow, and look forward to the spiritual refreshment. Thanks again for all of your expressions of support ... questions welcomed... love needed ... prayers requested. john
I have ten minutes before I have to leave, and haven't dressed yet! So I can only say THANK YOU to those who continue to read, post, offer housing, offer everything else. Yesterday was tough, but today will be tougher. We had 3-4 feet of water in our home. So today some wonderful brothers are going with us to Pascagoula to rip out carpet, and throw away furniture, and basically gut my house. I cannot post pictures yet because I simply do not have time. Perhaps tonight I can post a few. Mold is already growing on things. Our church building also suffered 3-4 feet of floodwater. A group from Conyers, GA is coming Friday to try to get us up and running so we can worship there. It is my hope to have some kind of limited worship time at Central next Sunday, but right now that is just a dream...who knows. I cannot write any more. We are out of time. Cellular service was not working in Mississippi yesterday. Do not know about today. We are overwhelmed with the offers rolling in. Please read the previous post for financial gifts. I will post more about other kinds of gifts later. Love to all, john
Thursday, September 01, 2005
I am now in Pensacola, Florida at my friend Danny and Terri Dodd's home. We will go to Pascagoula, Ocean Springs, Gulfport tomorrow delivering supplies. This will be my first look at my home. I have a third-hand report that the house is standing and looks ok from the street. We rejoice in that good news. Our church building has water in it. It is further north than our house. Anyhow, I will take some pictures tomorrow and perhaps post a few tomorrow night. I was glad to hear that my Mother's home, near New Orleans, was secure with only outside damage. But they are unable to go home. New Orleans is no place to be these days. We anticipate being overwhelmed tomorrow, but trust God's grace and know that He will see us through. We are getting many calls / e-mails offering financial help for the church here. Some of our members definitely lost their homes, we do not know how many. Some have suggested sending money to organizations. Some organizations are fine and do a good job for what they do. However, personalized giving is much better directed to people who can meet specific needs, not just generic needs. I suggest that you send any donations to the Gateway church of Christ. Earmark them for whichever Gulf Coast church of Christ you would like to receive your gift. God bless them for helping us in this way. Gateway Church of Christ 245 Brent Lane Pensacola, FL 32503 Already they have received gifts and we may be able to pass those gifts on to those in need tomorrow. We also will have ongoing needs for the ministry in Pascagoula. I will outline those needs in another post on another day once it is thought out ... but I suppose that we will need support for at least two years to re-establish the church here. Thanks for all of your love and comments, they lift my heart and spirit more than you know. To you, it is only leaving a comment. To me, it is a lifeline to people who care. Grace and Peace to You in Abundance!