Thursday, August 18, 2016

Hands and Feet: Part 2

Wow.  I am overwhelmed.  OVERWHELMED.  For so many reasons.

The devastation here is so widespread, so catastrophic, so unbelievable.  The piles and piles of garbage and contents lining the streets are bigger than the houses!

The outpouring of love and support and encouragement from family and friends has been so refreshing.

The hands and feet coming together to love on one another, serve one another, help one another, lift, push, pull, tear, wash . . . man, there is so much GOOD going on here!

Yesterday the big kids and I got down and dirty at the Baton Rouge Dream Center.  This is Healing Place Church's inner-city location in one of the poorest and highest crime rated zip codes in Baton Rouge.  

The Dream Center provides all kinds of life skills and recovery classes for kids and adults, community outreach, block parties, homeless ministry, door-to-door outreach, clothes closet, cafe and Sunday worship services.  It is hands and feet every day.  And it was flooded.  So were all the little houses in the neighborhood.  So not only is the Dream Center reaching out to the community to provide water, hot meals and disaster relief, but they are also trying to demo and repair their own facility so they can continue to minister to those who are in desperate need of spiritual and physical nourishment.

Let me tell you.  Flood clean-up is dirty, nasty, smelly work.  In looking for a place where I could take the children to serve, it had to also be a safe place and something they could reasonably do.  We were welcomed at the Dream Center.  Because the children were with me, they sent us to the clothes closet.  It took on about three feet of water.  All of the clothing and shoes and blankets and linens and things that sat in that nasty water had to go.  They gave us masks and gloves and garbage bags, and we got to work.

I have to admit.  The task seems so easy, so simple.  But it was hard.  All of these clothes had been lovingly donated and were intended to bless someone who didn't have clothes or the means with which to purchase clothes.  And here we were essentially throwing these clothes away!

We bagged about sixty 55-gallon bags of sopping wet stinky clothing and shoes.  I was so proud of the kids!  Once they got used to the smell, they didn't stop.

And here's what the room looked like when we were finished.  We were able to salvage some things that did not get wet.  It's not a lot in comparison to what we got rid of, but I know that room will soon be full of clothing again.  The next step is to clean and disinfect the walls and floors.

This is the door going into the clothes closet.  You can see where the water was.

Once we were done with that, we went to the activity room.  This huge room hosts parties and youth group gatherings and all sorts of things.  By the time we got there, it had been cleaned out, and it was time to scrub the walls and clean the floor.  So the kids went to work scrubbing walls.

We had the opportunity to hand out bottles of water to those who knew the Dream Center was there and ready and willing to help them.  We had planned to stay and help distribute the 1,000 meals that were coming, but there was a delay in receiving the meals.  They were coming from a sister church who was preparing not only our 1,000 meals but also meals for several other locations.  Again, the need is so huge.  The meals were late, but they finally came; however, we had to leave before they got there.  But that's okay.  

It was such an eye-opening experience.  So humbling.  All of the stuff and furniture and stuff and stuff and stuff that was emptied out of the classrooms and sanctuary and offices and hauled to the road . . . as quickly as it was hauled to the road, folks were lining the street and picking through it.  They were loading down their vehicles with chairs and toys and things that were already molded and mildewed.  These folks . . . I mean, they really had nothing to begin with, nothing before this flood came and swept it all away.  One of the guys was hauling out a clothes dryer.  A lady came running up to him and said, "I want that, I want that!  Hang on, let me get my car."  He tried explaining to her that it stood in three feet of water and did not work.  That didn't matter to her.  She wanted that dryer.  She thought she could fix it.  It was better than what she had.  Which was nothing.  So he loaded it up for her.

On the way home, we got behind this trailer.  I followed him as far as I could.  He was going to Lafayette.  There are more trailers just like this in Baton Rouge now.  Thank you, Samaritan's Purse!

I was tired when we got home yesterday.  Real tired.  And then I thought about my friends who were ripping out carpet, pulling up hardwood floors, cutting out sheetrock and pulling insulation.  This was after they hauled every piece of furniture out of their houses.  And most of them have to remove cabinets, too.  They've been at it for several days now. They still aren't done.  They begin as soon as curfew is lifted and stay as long as they can before heading out to make it to their temporary digs before curfew begins.  Talk about tired.  I can't even begin to imagine the kind of tired they feel right now.  The kind of physical and mental and emotional tired they must feel.

When I visited my friends' houses the other day, when I saw the contents of their homes by the curb . . . their memories, parts of their houses, their children' toys, EVERYTHING . . . the piles bigger than their houses, even . . . and this is what it's like for every single house in entire neighborhoods . . . well, I didn't take any pictures.  Not one.  I couldn't.  It was so personal.  My house . . . well, I try to make it a home for my husband and my children, a place we can come to at the end of a long day and hide and get away from it all, a place that is special and personal.  And yet their special and personal place is just garbage by the road now.

I know.  It's stuff.  It's just stuff.  It can all be replaced, all fixed.  But it's still hard, y'all.

Here's another thing about my friends.  All of them.  Every last one of them.  They keep talking about how they want to hurry up and finish their own homes so they can help someone else!  And they do it, and they mean it.  And they are smiling and laughing the whole time.  That's such good stuff right there.

Some of you have told me you wished you were here, you wish you could do something.  Well, you can.  You can pray for us.  That's the best, most important thing that you and I and anyone can do!  Pray for God's provision.  Yes, the need is great.  But His provision is GREATER!  Pray for His strength and rest at the end of a long day for those doing the work, for those who are working hard to restore their homes.  Pray that He will be glorified in and through this and that a HARVEST of souls will be reaped for His kingdom!  

And, wherever you are, find your one.  Be hands and feet.  This is kingdom work, y'all . . . the BEST kind there is!  

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