February 4, 2006
I attend Watermarke Church in Canton and prior to that I attended Buckhead Church for a year. On our off weekends at Watermarke we come to North Point. One of the last Sundays we had the privilege of attending the 10-year anniversary of North Point. What a joy to be a part of that celebration. What I remember most about the message was when you spoke about the “Dare you to Move” campaign and how you were surprised at how few actually took part in that effort. You said, if we did participate, every time we drive by the Browns Bridge campus we would be able to say, “ I did that, I helped build that building, even if it was only a door knob, I helped”.
We haven’t been to any North Point services since, because on November 1st my husband, John, left Georgia to go to Ocean Springs Mississippi for 8 months, to volunteer with the Katrina rebuilding efforts. The beginning of January, my 5 daughters and I joined him for the remaining 6 months. John is a contractor by trade; however, he did not want to go to Mississippi to make a living, he wanted to offer his services free of charge. As we are not independently wealthy, we raised support to live on while in Mississippi. We feel the same way about re-building Mississippi as you feel about Browns Bridge. We can’t understand why everyone wouldn’t want to help.
I have been here for 4 weeks, but it didn’t take that long for me to realize the enormity of the task at hand. My first impression upon arriving was “how is this ever going to be taken care of and how long is it going to take”. We are not even in the worst hit areas; we are east of Waveland and Pass Christian, both of which were pretty much obliterated by Katrina. We are where we can actually be of help right now. I don’t believe the rest of the country is aware of just how bad it is here. New Orleans gets most of the TV coverage, and most of that is political. When Katrina hit, people were very generous with donations to the Red Cross and such, and I’m sure those monies will be sorted out one day, but right now these people need help, able bodies, willing to come here and volunteer. That’s what’s going to rebuild Mississippi. We need church groups to send volunteers and then hopefully a few weeks later, send another group. That’s what will help organizations like C.O.R.E. (corebasecamp.com) function. C.O.R.E. is the group my husband hooked up with his initial trip to Mississippi, the week after Katrina hit. John is responsible for the rebuilding phase of the operation. Right now there are approximately 300 names on that list, and that is just Jackson County. An overwhelming number and task that my husband is uniquely gifted to do, and the reason we know God called our family to be here.
When I was first making arrangements to come to Mississippi, I told friends to come visit while I was here. Now I am telling them to come to the coast, visit or volunteer or just take a tour of the area and see for yourself just how bad it is and then go home to your churches, small groups, softball teams, whatever group your apart of and put together a team and come back and help. You can’t come here and see the devastation and not want to help. Even my 5 and 3-year-old are aware of the damage. Maddy said “Mommy, when we go back home, we should leave Daddy here so he can help all these people.” My 5-year-old is willing to sacrifice her father in order to help. The people here are so warm and welcoming. They have lost so much and are so appreciative of all the help they are receiving. My hope and prayer is that it will continue. My fear is what will happen if another hurricane hits somewhere else this year and take the focus off of the Gulf Coast.
I don’t think the rest of the country has forgotten Mississippi, I think it is out of sight, out of mind. The idea that they have been forgotten is a heartbreaking fear to the people here, because Katrina is everyday life for them. The Newspaper is practically cover-to-cover about Katrina. There are before and after pictures, and in the obituary section they eulogize someone who lost their life on that day. I have included a newspaper for your review. As you will notice even some everyday stories are indirectly Katrina related, for example, the accident on the front page. I have also included some pictures. They are from the waterfront in Ocean Springs. It doesn’t look like that everywhere, most of the damage here is from flooding, and the only obvious signs are the FEMA trailer in the front yard or the scrap pile by the road.
Pastor Stanley, I respectfully ask you to consider some way you can help. You have such an overwhelming influence on so many people and I know there are so many generous North Point members. If I may be so presumptuous to pass on prayer requests: 1) for skilled volunteers: drywall hangers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, 2) for supplies, we are praying specifically for 18 wheelers of sheetrock and insulation, we have already received one, Praise God, 3) Help for my husband, the camp will go from being able to house 200 volunteers to 500 for Spring Break, he’ll need help organizing and leading those teams, 4) for us personally: we are still in need of financial support. I will be happy to facilitate any efforts that may be made by you or North Point members to help the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Thank you in advance for any consideration you may give this and thank you for taking the time to read my letter.
In His service,
2325 Tradewinds Drive
Gautier MS 39553