Transitions, but not too far
The past few days have signaled a transition in my thinking about myself, my ministry, and my role in this massive hurricane relief effort. Much of this thinking was sparked by messages at Youth In Action by Don McLaughlin and Buddy Bell. First, I clearly regard hurricane relief as a major part of the ministry of our church. In many ways the CRISIS has passed. That either means we have accustomed ourselves to the reality of rebuilding and are engaged in that activity, or it means that many of the immediate needs have been met. Both are true, and both are false. I doubt I can explain that except to say that it all depends on who you talk to. If you talk to the lady that went on a trip over Christmas and came back to find her camper filled with sewage because someone connected her sewer line to a dead line, then I expect she will feel that the crisis has not passed. I talked to a man today who has spent time in the hospital twice recently. Both hospital stays resulted from trying to stay in his FEMA camper, but his lungs ended up being irritated by the fumes in the air from the new carpet and glue in the camper. To say that the crisis has passed is not to say there's nothing to do, or that all is well. Far from it. To me it means that we have met the immediate needs, and now we are working on the long term needs. We still find some critical cases, but not as often as before. Those long-term needs are as pressing as they ever have been. Getting back to my ministry here in Pascagoula, I have resumed a part of my daily schedule that I had abandoned since August 29th. For the past two days I went to the hospital to visit patients. I was saddened to learn of the retirement of Chaplain Bob Storey. I enjoyed assisting him in his work. He is a gentleman and a genuine lover of people. I learned a lot from Bob and I will miss him in the hospital ministry. His mother passed away shortly after the storm, traumatized by the ordeal. She was 92. I intend to go every weekday morning to visit the patients in my hall, and pray in the chapel. In another area, we will reprise our Sunday School program begninning this Sunday. I will be teaching a 'Welcome to Central' class. This class is such a need because we have so many visitors attending regularly. I hope we will have several of our 'guests' as a part of this class, so that they can make the transition from friend to family. I guess I'm just saying that I feel it is time for me to pay more attention to my duties as the minister of this church. Thankfully, none of this hurricane relief work is resting on my shoulders. In all of this I have gained immense respect for David Kilbern. His tireless efforts have been focused on those who are helpeless and who truly need the most help. He has a keen eye and a discerning heart. I have said for four months now that David and Elaine are here 'for such a time as this', and no one can convince me of anything other than God's providence in this matter. David has concieved a GREAT idea for a Spring project, but I will share that with you another night. Thanks for reading and listening and praying and all you've done. On a personal note, a great milestone of our return to home is getting near. Today Jason England expertly laid ceramic tile in our kitchen. I understand that tomorrow he'll apply the grout ... the cabinets are here and can be attached ... countertops are to arrive Thursday. I'm almost afraid to hope that we will be cooking in our kitchen by the weekend! Below: Jason lays ceramic tile in the Dobbs' kitchen.