March in Mississippi means warmer weather and biting gnats. The locals call them “no see-ums,” but I call them Piranha gnats. That aside, I think I like the warmer climate, cool breeze at night, and the slower pace of small town life. However, I miss having everything I need at my finger tips in Atlanta. An abundance of good restaurants, movie theaters, shops, and really just about anything you need with a 15 minute drive.
March also means spring break. This week we have over 400 people in camp, it will be almost double our previous largest week. We will have to feed and do devotions in shifts. The number of college students coming down is really amazing; most are from church groups from with-in the universities. Some are just students with a good heart and we also have a Jewish Disaster Response group down this week.
In my January update I told you all of the 18 wheeler of drywall. During the distribution of that drywall we delivered 27 sheets to Vera. She wrote a letter to the church in California to thank them for their generosity and it was read one Sunday during their service. The congregation was so moved that they collected an additional $7,000.00 and just procured another 1000 sheets of drywall for the people of Ocean Springs. Praise God!
We also had a $10,000.00 donation from the Chaplains at Keesler Air Force Base, a $30,000.00 donation from a church in Texas and many, many contributions of materials and tools. We also inked a deal with the Salvation Army that provides a voucher for Lowes for up to $1,500.00 in materials for each homeowner we work with. However, the most amazing deal of the last month was a group out of Kentucky that has committed $10,000.00 per week to buy materials with! I cant tell you what a blessing it is for the people we work with that lost so much and got so little by the way of insurance, or help from FEMA, to say to them “We will take care of the cost of that for you.”
This happened because of a connection we have with Jackson County. This private group called a local contact and asked them if there were two groups that could be trusted with 10k a week and we were one of his recommendations. I corresponded with them on two occasions and the deal was closed.
I was also contacted by the Chief Building Inspector for Ocean Springs to let me know that he wanted to refer the 2-3 calls per day, people wanting to volunteer, to us. He has had numerous construction companies call and want to send work teams down.
The updated numbers are:
- 378 homes cleaned and sanitized
- 432 tree and debris removal done
- 12 completed home rebuilds
- 38 projects underway
- 573 homes on the list to be rebuilt
- A full time volunteer staff of 11
- Full time employees (locals paid under a Federal Grant) 12
- 3800 volunteers through camp
- 435 in camp this week
- 415 in camp next week
- 250 for two following weeks
Niki and the girls are all doing well. Emily just turned 16, Molly spends all her spare time on the phone, Maddy, Sara and Suzy are having a party everywhere they go. Everyone enjoys having dinner at church every night with all of our new “family”. Quite frankly, it will be boring sitting around the dining room table with just the 7 of us when we get home. The girls are also enjoying the warmer climate, for now.
I am truly fortunate to be here and have my family with me. The work this year is much more demanding than last year. “Last Season” (before the holidays) we only had a few projects working; now with almost 40 it often “feels” a lot more like work, hard work. I am pleased to have 3 project managers now, one caseworker, and a controller working with me. Without those additions, much prayer, and really The One who gives me strength, this would not be possible.
I am also pleased to say that the contributions are still coming in for the support of this ministry. Some have fallen through and many other unexpected ones have surfaced. Thank you to ALL who have contributed your financial resources and your prayers for my family and me.
Please check out the CORE website, corebasecamp.com. We would love for you to come join us for a weekend or a week; we have work for all skill levels and are in great need of your help.
Please feel free to distribute this email as you feel led. If you are a monthly supporter of this ministry, please send in your March support (this would be your 5th month of support). All tax deductible contributions should be sent to:
St. Paul UMC
Attn: Paulette Baudry
P.O. Box 909
Ocean Springs, MS 39530
Memo Line: John Rogers Ministries (**This part is very important**)
Thanks again for your prayers and support of this effort to help rebuild Mississippi.
The Rogers Family