Back to Mississippi – trip report

By Dave Root – First Presbyterian Church, Marshfield

The first two weeks in November, my Son in Law, Kevin Mitchell, and I made another disaster relief trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to assist Katrina victims. As a point of comparison, this was my 7 th trip to the area, the first being three weeks after the storm hit. You can see a difference now as people are trying to put their lives and living conditions back in order.

From my viewpoint, the biggest difference is being made by the faith-based volunteers that continue to provide assistance. Not least among these efforts is the Presbyterian Church( USA) which has committed to years of continuing the rebuilding process. Presbyterian Churches along the coast continue to host and house volunteers that come from everywhere. These congregations demonstrate the patience that God calls us to, in putting up with itinerants that use their facilities, sometimes not always in the way desired.Presbyterians can be very proud of the “Christ-like” atmosphere that is apparent in the region.

Kevin and I joined with a team from the Christ Memorial Presbyterian Church located in Columbia , Maryland . We numbered about 10 in all and with various skills ranging from professional builders to rank armatures. Some of the team had medical backgrounds and volunteered at the free clinic that is established in the area. The Westminster Presbyterian Church in Gulfport was our host.

The effort has changed from repairing existing homes to building new homes. We worked on two homes that were very near completion. One of these was completed to the point that we participated in a “key ceremony ” on our last Friday. This was gratifying as with other trips we didn’t get to witness a completion. The lady occupying the new home was brought to tears as she thanked us and described the hopeless situation she faced after the storm.

The Presbyterian motto for the relief effort is “out of chaos, hope”. It is comforting to know that in Christ’s name we can provide this hope. The work is far from being complete and we must continue to concentrate on being the hope for these unfortunate victims.