She Knows His Handwriting
Today was a bright and comfortable day on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I began my day by going up to the church building, where I found David already sitting at the table with someone who had come in for help. Today his special assistant was Jean Holliman. Jean is perfectly suited to this kind of work, having been a secretary at a local elementary school for many years. Unfortunately, a few weeks after the storm her husband suffered a massive stroke and passed away. Al Holliman had served as one of our elders for many many years. Jean has coped with his loss well, considering the decades that they spent together. I had some good conversations with those I haven't seen in the week I was on the road. Then I went outside to take the tarps off of the outdoor tables. People still stop to look on the tables and see what they can find that they would like to have. While I was working on the clothes, Susan came by. We met Susan not long after the storm. Her grown son had recently passed away and she was having a lot of troubles. Still, we loved on her and let her know that God cares. Her job keeps her from worshiping on Sunday. She had run into Elsie England at the grocery store and Elsie had invited her to attend on Wednesday nights. She was feeling particularly low today. It was her son's birthday and she had visited his grave. The grief of losing her son compounded by the grief of recovery from Katrina is almost more than she can bear. We prayed together out on the front lawn and I hope she is finding some peace tonight. While I was still outside, a van drove up with several ladies from the Gateway Church of Christ in Pensacola, Florida. I appreciated these ladies coming over so much. They worked hard at the tables outdoors and also a crew helped cover a FEMA trailer park. I went with the latter crew. We knocked on 108 doors, asking residents for lists of their needs. We then went back to the building to gather up the items needed, and headed back to the park. There was much joy in this service, and I was blessed to be around these dear sisters. Three of the last FEMA campers we visited were for some people with intense physical challenges. Two of the women with us, Sandra and Pat, were very touched by the plight of two of the women. They had intense back problems. One walked with a cane, though she was not elderly. The beds in the FEMA campers are not comfortable. They are basically a plywood sheet with a mattress with springs in it. Because they have such a big heart, Sandra and Pat went to Wal-Mart and bought some foam mattresses to relieve the ladies who are hurting so much. They paid for these out of their own pocket, without hesitation. This is the kind of response we see very often in people. One young man who came down to help with the effort had not spent much time here before he had given all of his money away. You just feel so urgent about doing something to alleviate the suffering. I'm sure Pat and Sandra would rather have kept this to themselves, but I knew that you would feel blessed to be able to know about this, and would praise our Father in heaven for their bright lights. The Gateway Ladies left about 4:00 and I put together a basket of sheets and towels for someone in another FEMA park who had come by earlier. Aloha Lee and one of her friends had been working at the building today and she helped me put it together. Maggy and I delievered those supplies and went to the church building to visit with the volunteers and enjoy a bite to eat. Before I finish, I want to tell you about a lady I talked to on the phone today. At 79 years old, with a gutted house, living in a camper, and all alone ... she admits freely to being depressed and uncertain about her future. She has a son, but does not know where he lives. Two years ago she prayed for the Lord to reveal to her if her son was alive or dead. Two weeks later in the mail she received a Christmas card with a ten dollar bill in it. There was no return address, and the card was not signed. But this mother recognized the handwriting of her son. The postmark was Oakland, California. And now after the bitter reality of Hurricane Katrina's wrath is setting in, all she thinks about is that she will die before she sees her son again, and before her home is repaired again. She very plainly and pointedly asked me tonight on the phone: "Can you fix my home?" Oh, how I wish I could. But even if I could, it is her broken heart that I could not repair. I will visit with this lady and pray with her tomorrow, Lord willing. So, today I watched a grieving widow serve others, prayed with a mother who has lost her son to the grave, worked through the day with a group of compassionate mothers, and talked on the phone with a mother who watches through the mist of her failing eyesight for her son to come to her door. The broken, the compassionate, and the hopeless. They all live on our Mississippi Gulf Coast today. And God has used some of us to give them some light.