Stories from Baton Rouge, Louisiana mission trip
Leesha – Read by Pat Benke
When the Lord calls us to do something he will give you the strength and the means to follow his direction. In recent weeks as we prepared ourselves for Baton Rouge Disaster Relief team we came across God’s wisdom to help us while we were there. We used the internet to find images of what the flood looked like in Baton Rouge last year, we used a had out from team leader to prepare our hearts and minds for this trip. But God took it another step he placed us in a seat on the plane beside a man that lived through this flooding. Now we are not ones to talk to people we don’t know but he (Brad) started talking to us, when he heard we were doing a mission project in Baton Rouge he just opened right up about how he and his family survived that flood. Brad showed us some pictures of his home and the area around them. We talked about how in just a few seconds your life can change forever. Everyone in the flooded area lost most everything but even those who didn’t flood had friends and family who did. No ones lives was untouched, changed forever in some way or another. To listen to him and other people from the area you wonder how can you keep going? It is by Gods grace they keep going. It will take years to clean up what is left and rebuild. As a missioner we did much listening to different people, it helped us to see that we often take for granted what we have. As we drove around and saw the destruction our hearts hurt it was more then we could really comprehend.
The last day we were in Baton Rouge their was emergency alerts going off like every 15 to 30 mins. about tornados we were told it was just because the weather was favorable for a tornado that is was very rare for one to actually touch down. When we got to the airport and saw the news our hearts broke a little bit more and we prayed before we even saw the distraction a total of 5 tornados had touched down one in Baton Rouge and 4 in New Orleans. WOW how do you put this in your mind after just serving a broken community?
We also had some fun while serving, what Methodist don’t right? We were so delighted when we did work to fix up a garden at the church who hosted us o feel real soil on my hands again what a blessing. And to sit in the evening and talk to others on the team and get to know each other better. On both projects we served on “Ramp Rats” and with Habitat we were greeted with love and appreciation good humor one morning it was warm donuts. We did not see hate or grudges from what happened to that town but we saw pulling together.
If you want to learn more talk to one of the 10 who went to serve. And thank you to all who helped send our team to do Gods work.
JJ Read by Kathleen Wood
In December, Sandy asked me if I wanted to go to LA with the mission team. Initially I hesitated, but she gently kept at me. She said that my main task would be to cook for the team. With that, she appealed to my vanity and my passion. I agreed to go and cook for the team. I was also the driver/transporter. Prior to the trip I dealt with quite a bit of anxiety related to the unknown. Connie wasn’t given information about our host church or the facilities that I would have at my disposal until the Sunday prior to leaving. I prayed and worked hard to release my anxiety. The comforting realization that I received from my prayer was that whatever I was given, I would make it work. Yes, all my pre-work was about me. It wasn’t until getting into the trip that I got out of self and realized what I was there for.
Shortly after getting to the host church and meeting our host on Wednesday evening, I had to go out and get instant dinner and breakfast and lunch for the team. For me, it was really hustle and bustle that first night and the next morning. After I got the team off to their work site, I was able to slow down, shower, plan and shop. It wasn’t until that first afternoon when I picked up the team and they returned to the church that I realized my mission…to take care of the team. They returned tired and sore. It was my honor and blessing to be able to provide snacks, and then dinner for them. They didn’t have to worry about a thing. When they returned from a hard day’s work, they were done. In the morning, I would get up before everyone to set up breakfast and make sandwiches for lunch. Those were the times when I went to work. The workers were very generous and would offer to help with meal prep and dishes after, but again I took it as my mission to free them from that work.
I had a very welcomed break when the Men’s group at the church had cooked a spaghetti dinner for an Emmaus training and prepared enough to feed us. They also cooked and served us breakfast on Tuesday morning, along with a devotional.
This mission trip was truly an eye-opener for me. The first day I transported the team to their worksite, I went into the home. It was obvious that there had already been a lot of work done, but there was so much more to do. It was then that I realized the total devastation that the flood victims suffered. Traveling around the community, there were piles of debris from repairs in many yards. On Sunday, we attended service at our host church. In the Children’s Time, the pastor incorporated us into the message. He spoke of the continued effort to provide aid to the community and the church’s outreach of first aid kits. The pastor said that there were still over 2000 families in motels. There wasn’t a count for the thousands that were still staying with family and/or friends or the ones that had moved back into their homes prior to finishing the needed repairs.
I am thankful that I went on the trip. I was able to serve and support; to be the hands and feet of God to a hurting community that even on the day we left, suffered tornados and destruction.
Cam Read by Chuck Lennon
Chuck: We found out on Sunday before we left that Cameron was too young to work at the habitat site. The Louisiana Conference had an alternative work site for him building an 84 ft. ramp up to a new mobile home that was sitting 9 feet above the ground. We worked with a group of men from Clinton UMC, they called themselves the Ramp Tramps! They were so kind to Cameron, teaching him and encouraging him. Here is his story:
Cameron: Why I did I go? I went to get closer to Mister Jesus. I did not only got closer to Jesus I learned so many things and they will all help me grow as a person skillfully and emotionally. In my skills I learned how to use a nail gun (I will talk more about that later) and I learn how to use a saw. When we started on the work site I was really nervous because I was afraid that the skills that I had then would not be enough and they would just not let me do anything because I didn’t know to do it, but I was one thousand percent wrong.
On the first day that we were there I didn’t do much and they just didn’t tell me to do much so I just played with clay when they didn’t tell me to do anything else to do. Then the second day came, man it was like night and day between the two days! There wasn’t a time that I wasn’t working that was when I learned how to use the nail gun, /beg 12-3 at 13:45. it was a lot of fun using that thing! The reason that I didn’t use it on Thursday was because I just was to anxious.
I thought that the nail gun would give a lot of kickback, but I didn’t do anything. I thought that I was going to hurt me or someone else. I just didn’t want to get hurt and of course my brain goes straight to the worst possible situation. And using the saw-I was pretty set on not using it, but get ready for this it looked like it would be fun that is what made my decision.
After that, hmm let me see, Oh the railing! The railing was pretty interesting. They were measuring once cutting twice. End 12-3 at end. I just kept holding it back I just wanted to yell at them and tell them to do it a different way so they don’t keep wasting wood. We went through some planks of wood that someone else probably could use that wood that they wasted! Even after all of that I would definitely go through that exact trip once again!