Death & Resurrection
This is one of those days when I can hardly choose which stories to share with you. So I'll encourage you to get a cup of coffee. Maybe grab a box of tissue if you are prone to tears, as most of us on the Coast are these days. Understand that these events are far beyond our reach, and we simply experience them as they happen, good or bad. She came into our building with a story that would stop you in your tracks. A frail, hungry young woman in her twenties, and a widow. Her husband had been killed right after the storm. He was run over by a car. Actually he wasn't her husband, but they had lived together for a long time. They were living in a hotel under his FEMA number. Since he was no longer alive, she had no right to the room. On the streets, lonely, hurting, stricken with grief, this broken person found her way to another broken person. They were in our building looking for help. We fed them. They ate voraciously. They were living in a car. They were now engaged to be married. While David was looking at her papers, she walked out the door, presumably to get a smoke. She didn't come back. Her papers and her hat sat on a table by the door. Two days later he came in, but this time with his sister. The young widow, beaten by a life she couldn't win, had ended her own life the night before. In doing so she perpuated the cycle that brought her to us in the first place, leaving behind a confused, weeping young man. He picked up her papers, but her hat is still on that little table by the door. Maybe we could have done something ... maybe not. She's not really a victim of Hurricane Katrina, but then again she is. Heather from California grew up in church, but was not much into church. Some bad choices in her life led her in other pathways, down a spiral of drug use and other problems, which caused her parents great concern. Her dad is in a men's group and they pray for her often. One of the guys in that group got a couple of friends together and headed to Mississippi to do some hurricane relief work. They've been here a few days doing an awesome job. A few days ago while driving down the highway they saw someone who was in the road, distressed, broken down. They stopped and picked up ... Heather ... Heather who attends their church back home.... in California. Heaven's appointments are always startling. They brought Heather to Central, where she right to work with a team doing drywall, mudding, sanding, and other helpful things. She met some Christian people who loved her. When I came to the building this morning I was met with grinning faces and her big story. Heather was baptized into Jesus Christ last night about midnight! She says that drugs used to make her high, but now she has a new feeling that comes from Jesus. Heather's light really does shine brightly, and I hope it does for a long time. Paul and Billie attend my brother's church. Not long after the storm we received a letter from them saying that they had decided to send us $100 a month for six months (as I remember it). And sure enough, as the first of each month rolled around, a nice card would arrive with assurances of prayers from Texas and $100. Everyone just has to know that on our end, we are very slow about getting out 'thank you' letters. We will do it, but lack of time is a big reality for us right now. So we haven't sent them a thank you letter yet. I was talking to my brother one day when he asked me about Paul's letters, and I told him how neat that was and how appreciative we are. It was then that he told me that Paul had brain cancer and wasn't expected to live very long. I thought, 'Dear God ... here's a man with multiple health expenses, a family, an uncertain future, and he's sending me money?' I told him I would simply refuse the money. But my brother informed me that Paul was very determined and that I should take it. I received an e-mail from my brother's wife today that Paul had won in his struggle against cancer and is now with our Father. That e-mail was attached to an e-mail that came from the church. Tears still sting my eyes as I read the last lines of that e-mail: "They request no flowers be sent. A donation for the Pascagoula Church rebuilding fund is requested." I've never met Paul or Billie. And I never sent a 'thank you' to Paul while he was alive. They are giants of faith, in my book. This afternoon I was on the phone with my friend Roger, when Pam came up the stairs and informed me that a young lady wanted to be baptized. I'd never met Lori, and even now I know very little about her. But I do know she's my new little sister. And so I thank God for her newfound faith. Below: Robbie, Glenn, Steve, Heather, Lori, Pam, and Me ... just after Lori's baptism.