Thursday, March 30, 2006

All’s well that ends well (March 30)

I’ll start at the "ends well" – Continuing from where I left off in yesterday’s post,the service shop was great – they had the BBB back in operation shortly after 10 a.m. it turned out that the only thing that was broken was the ball joint (It had sheared off – likely due to a defect – the mechanic said that there was no wear - nothing that would have given a warning signal if it had been checked—just a “one in a million” failure that happens sometimes).

Also for the mechanically knowledgeable –my mind was distracted last night – the bolt part of the ball joint that attaches the “a frame” to the wheel hub sheared off allowing the "a frame" to drop to the pavement. Fortunately there was no damage to the a frame, spring, shock, tie rods, brake lines or the wheel well. They replaced the upper ball joint at the same time to be on the safe side .

It was around 9:00 by the time they had gotten the wheel off and the old ball joint out and had done the assessment of what needed to be done. At that point they said it would be 2-3 hours to get the parts and re-assemble. So I had called Chris to say that we likely wouldn’t be able to get to see them before they had to go to airport. When they surprised me by finishing so quickly, we called back- he cancelled his cab and we were able to pick them up. As we were enroute to airport Tammye re-checked their tickets and discovered they had a 4:00 p.m. flight rather than 2:00 p.m. so we pulled off at a mall, had lunch and meandered around there for a couple of hours. It was a much better way to say goodbye than when they had had to leave us stranded last night and find their way back to their hotel by bus.

Apparently Hunter was crying on their way to hotel because he was so worried about us – and I suppose shaken up by it all. Both Linda and I had our emotional moments this morning after the BBB was well on the way to being repaired and the reality “what could have been if it happened on the freeway really hit us”. So in all this we give God the glory – scary and a bit costly but no serious damage to the BBB and no harm to life or limb. AND we were blessed with more time to visit with Chris, Tammye, Hunter and Camdyn and got to see them off at the airport.

This quote from our son Kevin gives one of the good things that can come from something that seems bad at the time “ You're right though, on the bright side; when you make a wrong turn from now on, you can just remind any who are apt to criticize that some times wrong turns are right choices".

Back tracking to the great part of yesterday. Jim & Joyce and Joseph (on left)– former neighbors of Chris & Tammye’ – who now live in Dallas had come down to meet them at San Antonio – They were leaving yesterday morning but treated us to breakfast. We had gotten to know Jim & Joyce quite well in our visits to Aurora over the past 5 or 6 years so it was good to see them.
Lulu’s diner where we had breakfast. features a “3 pound” cinnamon roll which we avoided but we saw others tackling.

After breakfast and goodbye’s to Jim & Joyce we drove to Boerne and visited the Enchanted Springs ranch (which didn’t quite live up to the descriptions on their website – but was interesting—don’t often see a Texas longhorn up close and personal. There was an eclectic collection of animals including zebras, elks,& llama

Hunter & Camdyn are great kids but I suppose all parents at times may want something to"threaten" their kids with-- but hopefully nothing extreme .....

We had lunch at “Whattaburger” – since this is a southern chain none of us had ever been there – great burgers!!

We went to the Guadalupe River State park for rest of the afternoon. This was a really neat place- river running through a limestone “canyon” == kids had fun running and playing, in playground and wading in the river. Towards the end of the day Hunter & Camdyn talked their Dad into a game of freeze tag -- not sure who got the most tired but it was fun to watch them.
I got brave and climbed a tree - well it wasn't much of a climb --nothing like what my friend John Sanders is learning to do back in Mississippe -climbing trees with a saw to clean up after Katrina

Boys" will be boys and Moms will be moms. Linda scolded Chris as he forded the river above the rapids


One of the highlights was seeing a real live armadillo. It was a very relaxing time with family. I said to Camdyn “This is really a great day—do you know why?” She said “Nooo?” and I said it has to be great because we are all here together. When she was leaving last night after the breakdown I told her it was still a great day because we were OK and we had had the day together.

When we got back to the KOA this afternoon I crashed for a couple of hours and then spent some time browsing to see what we might do tomorrow – still not 100% sure but likely will go down and do the Riverwalk.

Take care & God Bless
Charlie& Linda

p.s. May not have INTERNET access over next few days sopostings may be irregular again for a while

The BBB - Bad news - Good news (March 29)

This will be real short – it has been a long day.

The good news is that we are alive & well and getting ready to sleep in the BBB after spending a great day with Chris, Tammye, Hunter & Camdyn. We had breakfast with them at Lulu’s diner this a.m. and then took the BBB for a day trip north of San Antonio. Details of that at another time.

The bad news is that for the first time in traveling long distances from home in RV’s and other vehicles we had a catastrophic mechanical failure. As we were returning to their hotel around 7:00 p.m. we were pulling away from a stop light making a turn onto another street when the bottom ball joint – drivers side - pulled free from the control arm - resulting in the frame crashing down onto the pavement. We were stranded for over 5 hours before we finally got a “transport size” wrecker to come and handle the job – we have AAA coverage and that is another story --

Anyhow we are now sitting in the parking lot of a repair shop waiting for them to open in the morning – hopefull it won’t take forever to fix.

The really good news is that we are so thankful – God is good – We were on city streets because I had accidentally exited the freeway 2miles before we should have and I don’t even want to imagine what would have happened at highway speeds – with the most precious cargo on board. We have been praising God for my mistake all evening.

I had written this and lost it once because the connection dropped – I’m going to “cut & paste” it and then I need to try to get some sleep.

p.s. INTERNET courtesy of Best Western across the street.

God Bless

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

But you were washed … (March 28)

When I titled my last post I was thinking of Glen Campbell’s song “Galveston, O Galveston … so I looked up the lyrics tonight now that I’m back online. We now understand what hemeant about the “sea winds blowing” “sea waves crashing” and “seabirds flying”. But the rest of the song which seems to be about leaving a love behind to go off to war doesn’t apply very well – I went there with my partner and love of my life and she is still with me and we are on a mission of peace- not war. Still we like the song and it ran through our minds as we walked and listened to the wind, waves and calling of the birds.

To-day we drove to San Antonio. We came the scenic route – going south from Galveston into Surfside beach and then “tacked” our way cross-country to US87 at Victoria. I say tacked because San Antonio is south west of Galveston but the roads run mostly North-south or East-west so we had to “zig-zag” not unlike a sailboat tacking tomake progress against the wind. We hadn’t been driving too long when we hit torrential rains. This was the first heavy rain we had encountered since we left home and I was grateful for 2 reasons – 1) we were inside and traveling – not trapped by the rain when we wanted to be outside (or having to be outside and getting drenched) and 2) the BBB was covered with salt and grit both from the roads on our way down from the north and from sitting near the ocean for 3 weeks -- When we got to San Antonio she was glistening clean – better washed that I could have done with hours of work. This led me to think of how God does things we can’t do and the passage in I Cor.6:11 came to mind.

It was good to see farm country and hills again after miles and miles of flat coast land. – lots of cattle grazing and large fields of corn just starting to grow. (before we got away from the flat country)

When we got here one of the first things I did was fire up my laptop to get an “INTERNET” fix. – 4 days cold turkey – I was having serious withdrawal problems. It was good to check John Dobbs ’”Hope Remains” blog.

Linda & I have been talking about the value of our experience in Pascagoula and remembering our friends there—Hello John(times 3) , David (times 10?), (David J.- Jack Jr.says hello -- he is the navigator sitting up front and keeping an eye on things) Elaine Steve, Pam, Robbie, James, Jeff (times 2), Vivian, Margaret, Ann, Harry, Ricky, Debbie, Stella, Aloha, Gary, Re-re, Winona, -- and so many more – I probably missed someone obvious What we pray most of all is that we can recreate at least some of the attitude of service and meeting needs when we return home. Maybe we haven’t had a Katrina to devastate our community but in so many lives there is devastation none the less. How can we be the neighbors and friends that help rather than just being comfortable in our own world?

In the meantime, we did laundry and talked to all our kids this evening so all is well with our universe.Melissa's friend Alexander has arrived in Kingston from Sweden so she is bubbling. She had her first physio session for her knee and they have taped it until she can strenghten the muscles with exercise they have given her. When we talked to Kevin, Will was talking in the background wanting his Dad to get off the phone and return to play with him. -We will spend tomorrow with Chris, Tammye, Hunter & Camdyn – they have suggested the Enchanted Springs Ranch so for tomorrow atleastperhaps we’ll becowboys (and cowgirls).

Goodnight & God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Galveston., Galveston (March 26-27)

We went to church at Stonegate in Port Arthur. Nice mix of ages in the congregation. I estimated attendance of 250-300 in a building that could seat 500-550. Regular preacher was away – the person who spoke is graduating this spring and will be joining them fulltime in July. He is a history major and spoke on the comparison between the Rome Paul was dealing with when he wrote the book of Romans and the US to-day. Interesting although I guess you’d have to be a history buff to fully appreciate the comparisons made. The main point was that Paul’s exhortations to the Roman Christians were very applicable in 21st century US Christians.

In the afternoon we had a leisurely drive following Hy 73 to Winnie – 124 South to 87 and then 87 to Galveston. Less than 100 miles - - took us about 2 ½ hours including another ferry ride from the Bolivar peninsula to Galveston Island. This is the land of ocean beaches and oil rigs – curious juxtaposition of pipes, pumps and derricks with the (finally undamaged from hurricanes) beach front homes on stilts.

I tried to find a hotel where I could get a wireless INTERNET signal – stopped a half dozen places along the Seawall Blvd. but no louck. Also we didn’t call the kids since there was no phone close at the campground. We’ll do that Tuesday when we hit San Antonio – if not before.

We stayed in Galveston State park – lot right on the ocean just back from the beach. All evening there was a strong (maybe 25-30 mph) wind blowing. We had a front row centre view of the surf pounding in and the roar of the wind was quite intimidating at times – rocking the BBB -- However, I slept like a rock and watched the sun rise over the ocean Monday morning.

We stayed “on the beach Monday and enjoyed some “down time”. We went for a long walk on the beach. and talked with a guy who was surf fishing – with some success. He had moved here from Indiana last fall. Spent a lot of time reading some novels. I finished the one I’d been reading at bedtime since beginning of March and made it half way through another one. Interesting plot about an atheist geneticist who is searching for a cure for his daughter’s cancer and becomes involved with a group called the “Brotherhood of the Second coming ”supposedly commissioned by Lazarus to watch for and locate the second Messiah and prevent him from being killed. All fictional without any claim to b historical – unlike the Di Vinci code which is pure fiction but purports to be based on historical evidence.

Lots of Ontario people here. Met a couple from near Parry Sound and another guy from Sarnia.

It is strange to behaving time to “veg out” after 3 weeks of fairly steady pace working in Pascagoula. It made me appreciate more than ever the commitment of those who are doing that day. Of course there are those who devote that kind of energy to their jobs but this somehow seems like a different level of commitment – perhaps because it is serving others without expecting anything in return. So David, John, and all the others at Pascagoula – we pray for you --God will bless you.

To-day (Tuesday) we will travel the 250 miles or so to San Antonio. We are looking forward to seeing Chris, Tammye, Hunter & Camdyn and spending the day with them to-morrow. It will be good to be back in touch and to be able to call Melissa and Kevin. (We do have cell phone contact here but we are too “cheap” to use it for visiting

p.s. I'm doing this postingfrom the KOA at San Antonio. I'll have more about our trip here in my next post. Haven't connected with C&T yet, I've been busy catching upon John Dobbs' "Hope Remains" blog and on the 70 or so emails that have accumulated since Friday noon.

God Bless
Charlie & Linda

March 25 (mostly from Linda’s journal)

We headed south to Abbeville and then drove Hwy 82 along the coast through little towns - Pecan Island, Grand Chenier, Oak Grove, Creole and (slightly larger) Cameron. All of these had major destruction- from Rita - basically wiped of the map.. Cameron seemed to be a town the size of Thessalon (1600-2000 people) - all the houses were gone, schools were just shells, businesses like garages with steel beam frames were twisted and torn skeletons – aside from the remaining junk most of it looked like a new town site with streets in place ready to start building. Terrible devastation and very little rebuilding.

We had a short ferry ride across a shipping channel into Calcasieu Lake just west of Cameron and then stopped along the highway at a beach that ran for several miles (The little hamlet of Constance beach was also wiped out) We walked for a mile or so along the beach. Saw these jelly like weird shaped things all over the beach – not sure what they are – have a picture so we may be able to find out. (Found out later that they were Cannonball jellyfish )

The coastal area of Louisiana is FLAT. Lots of water usually a “canal” along side the road. We saw rice paddies and crawfish farms. People were fishing all over the place.

Entered Texas around 5 and spent the night WALMART camping in Port Arthur.

On the road again (March 24)

A month to the day from when we headed away from the snow in Sault Ste Marie we left Pascagoula and Mississippi.. When we arrived in Pascagoula, we didn’t know anyone— there were people everywhere and no one seemed to know what was going on. It seemed chaotic What a difference. 3 weeks has made. When we left there were new people everywhere and no one seemed to know what was going on. It seemed chaotic. The difference was that we had quickly learned one of John Dobb’s favorite sayings “ask David” and we knew that it was really organized chaos and that the Central church’s mission of being the “best friend (the community) ever had” was unfolding as it should.. But the major difference was that we had so many new friends, we had the blessing of having helped a little bit in restoring homes and repairing lives.

Before we left Sandy dropped by the BBB to give us heremail address and a nice note thanking me for my help with her network connection. We had just started to get toknow them during our 1 week overlap. They are from California (Yosemite area) and had faced the loss of a son twho was killed at age 21 by a drunk driver. It was a testimony to their faith that they continue to be focused on service and have moved past that without retaining any bitterness or anger.

I called Lloyd Hotchkiss to catch up on a couple of things that were going on at Pinehill and to find out about their week looking after their grandchildren. It was good to have a brief visit with both Lloyd & Barb.

I mentioned that I had helped David Jordan with deliveries on Thursday. David has a little “bejean fizier” (sp?) called Jack who rode around with us and I had befriended him. David came by and gave me this little stuffed dog – I’m called it Jack Jr. – who is now riding in a position of prominence on the dash of the BBB.

David also gave Linda a teddy bear. David is on the go constantly cleaning, cooking, organizing and delivering supplies. He also has a real heart for people and I saw him many time stop in the midst of something to listen to and encourage someone who was having some difficulty.

Finally, we spent some with John Sanders – he showed us a Powerpoint presentation about his Co-mission work supporting education (K-6) and their efforts at helping develop some jobs and means for people to support themselves. It is a very good work – we spent some time in prayer as we said goodbye to John.

After a late lunch at a rest area just before the state line, we entered Lousiana around 2. It was scary for Linda as we entered New Orleans from the east – the causeway /bridge from Slidell across Lake Pochtorain (sp?) takes you out over the water for a long time. On the west bound lane part of the shoulder lane and the permanent guardrails are missing. They have placed concrete barriers (the lane dividers you see in construction zones) along the edges and it also has a couple of sections of” bailey” bridge that seemed quite rickety. At one point she asked “Are you sure we are supposed to be on this bridge?” But we survived.

As you enter New Orleans from the east on I-10 it is like a big ghost town – mile after mile of empty streets, empty parking lots and abandoned (modern) buildings. The situation in Pascagoula had been mind boggling but at least I could “visualize” the size of the problem by comparing it a similar section of Sault Ste .Marie (say everything from boundary road to Korah road was flooded from the river as far as the “hill” or McNabb street. But New Orleans – it just was beyond any thing that I could compare it too. We went off at Carrolton Ave to have a quick look at the some of the streets close by –In the areas we saw they are a way behind Pascagoula in the clean-up. There was still a lot of “mucking out” going on and big piles of debris untouched at the curbs When we got backonI-1o heading west it was like someone had flicked a switch – all of a sudden there were cars and people and business – we got caught in a traffic jam that took us 30 minutes to go 4 miles.

Much of the rest of the afternoon was spent driving on elevated highways over swamps and lakes with a few breaks were there was farmland – cows in the fields --. We had another traffic jam in Baton Rouge but I guess driving through late on Friday afternoon isn’t the smartest timing. We did ”WALMART camping” at Lafayette.. We parked behind a rig from Quebec and beside another one from Ontario. But didn’t have a chance to meet them.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Until we meet again (March 23)

After services this evening there was the customary sharing of experiences by those who were leaving. We have heard 6 or 7 groups do this in the past 3 weeks and all of a sudden we were putting up our hands when David asked “Who is going home to-morrow? (Well, it wasn’t exactly true because we aren’t heading home-yet!! but we are leaving the “place of the Singing River” and heading for Texas. ”

I shared our thoughts on our time here along with the others who are leaving tomorrow. We have never done anything like this before but it was (using an overworked expression) an awesome experience that leaves us wondering how do these people do it—volunteers come and volunteers go but they are here day after day -- week after week working sacrificially to help others. Our hats are off to the team of workers here at Central especially David K.., David B. and John D. and we pray God’s richest blessings on them.

We have also met so many great people from other parts of the country. Neal and the kids who came with him, this week I met Doug and Clifford from Lamar Missouri— great guys who were on a team doing drywall and mudding. Doug is using all of his vacation weeks to come down and help with hurricane relief. He has been doing some volunteer work like this for many years. It Is humbling to meet people who give so much of themselves to helping others because they love God and want to show his love to others. The “mission” of the Central church is “We want to be the best friend this community ever had” -- Our experience is that they are doing their best to fulfill that mission. I hope it doesn’t take a Katrina but I wonder if many of us don’t need a Katrina like crisis to help us understand what is really important in this life and to cause us to live and serve accordingly.

We didn’t do a lot to-day. This morning we were cleaning and doing laundry and other things to get ready to ”hit the road”. I participated by teleconference in a Board meeting for ADnet (not for profit community development organization that I am involved with).

This afternoon we delivered and set up a bed for Mr. Kelly. We found they had moved some of the furniture that we didn’t think was ready into the house but that is their choice. We hope it doesn’t cause them to be ill or result in the mold spreading to the house were it has already been redone. Anyhow, we said our good-byes to them. John was in the trailer and we also chatted with him for a while and said good-bye.

Later we met Charlotte at her house to go over Linda’s ideas about how to rearrange the kitchen. Charlotte was at services to-night and the young lady with the toddler also returned and Linda spent some time with her. A group had put shingles on her house this week.

We tried to call our kids tonight but we didn't reach anyof them.If you read this guys we love you!! We'll try to connect on Sunday.

And so we will be “on the road again”—we add our new friends in Pascagoula to the list of those to whom we say “God be with you until we meet again”

My internet access may be sporadic over the next while so the blog entries may be irregular—Keep checking.

Goodnight & God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Bubble bursts and hope renewed (March 22)

I’m doing this posting Wednesday a.m. because Linda & I were both beat when we got in last night around 9. I hadn’t slept well Tuesday night and Linda had an emotionally tough day. Today is expected to be our last day in Pascagoula. There are so many needs and we have grown to love so many people here that it will be sad to leave but we also are looking forward to seeing family and friends as we continue our journey. And as time goes by the need to go home grows stronger. This mixture of emotions is, in some small way, similar to that experienced by God’s people when they are confronted with difficulties in their lives or are considering the beauty of heaven. We long for the eternal peace in the mansions our Father has prepared for us while at the same time we are tied to this life because of our love for the people (and sometimes the “things”) here

Yesterday began with lots of enthusiasm and optimism. We were able to recruit 4 boys from Missouri to help - we thought – move furniture into the Kelly house . We also intended to deliver a bed for Mr. Kelly. John Dobbs left us the keys for his van while he is away to Tulsa (Thank you John!!) . Linda took the boys over to start working while I remained to go with David (Jordan) to pick up the bed and some other stuff that needed to be delivered to various locations.

The first setback occurred when we discovered the delivery van had a flat tire. David J. went off to arrange for tire repair and I spent a couple of hours doing odd jobs – finished cleaning out auditorium, helped other groups get supplies and ran a few errands to help David (Kilbern) When it became apparent that it was going to be a while before the tire was fixed, I got David J. to drop me off at the house so I could help there.

When I go there I found Linda very distressed and almost physically ill. It turned out that all the stuff that was in the garage and sheds had just been moved there after the flood to empty out the house – it hadn’t been cleaned or treated- it was full of dirt and mold. She was trying to clean it but wasn’t making a lot of progress. Bill & Marlene (Kelly) –who Linda discovered had only been in the house 6 days before the flood --- were focused on wanting the things that were most important to them put back to normal –and this wasn’t practical or possible. They had no sense of the emerging reality that so much of the “stuff” they had was going to need to be thrown out.

Linda and the boys were hot, tired, thirsty and frustrated. They had moved the beds from the family room to the bedrooms and hauled in a bunch of clothes but they where now up against what do we do about the dirt and mold.

I made a couple of supply runs first to get some bottled water and then for rags and cleaning supplies. Fortunately, David Kilbern came by just as we were about to break for lunch. With his experience with this he was able to confirm that it was an exercise in futility to continue to try to clean the furniture and get it in the house right away. The Kelly’s had arranged for KFC (chicken) for lunch so we ate with them and then brought the boys back to the building so they could return to their regular crews.

When we got back here we talked to David Kilbern a little more about “next steps” (One lesson I learned here was that in our enthusiasm and desire to avoid burdening David -- and the frustration of trying to get a slice of his time -- we had made some decisions that we didn’t have the knowledge and experience to make – we really needed to have had David come by before the Kelly’s got home. to look at the stuff to see whether it was “savable”. So we live & learn –

We also can see that there are some challenges in the Kelly family relationships – which we had suspected from some of our conversations with John. It is clear that John & David love their parents and want to help them. It is also clear that the parents expectations are beyond what they are capable of meeting. As a result, John (Kelly) has gone to ground. He has not been present any of the time we have been there. David (Kelly) showed up briefly at lunch time but disappeared as soon as his Dad started issuing requests for him to do things. We will keep them in our prayers.

So this was the day that the reality of Katrina burst our bubble of hope that we could leave the Kelly’s with their house furnished. We did return for awhile in the afternoon – I put up a hook in the eave for the hanging basket (that we gave them Tuesday) so they could look out from the kitchen and see the flowers. I also went to Lowes and got a pipe to install in Mr. Kelly’s closet since the one that was there to hang clothes had somehow gotten lost. And I installed a door stop at the front doors so they didn’t have to use a paint can to keep the knob from making a hole in the wall. Linda sprayed bleach mixture on a several pieces of furniture to see whether it would kill the mold and we put everything back into the garage , prayed with them again and came back for supper.

Tim from Arkansas had a lesson on the faith of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednago. After his lesson Josh was baptized and several came asking for prayers for strength. Josh has been here working with the church on relief effort and decided to take this step after developing a relationship with several of the people working here. He also has a girlfriend in California who was encouraging him to do this and flew in to be here to reaffirm her commitment and witness this event. They had planned to be here last night when John Dobbs preached but had car problems.

Linda also had met a young lady at supper through David Kilbern who has an 14 month toddler (Damonte). She was helping her find some toys and clothing and sat with her during services and we took her home afterwards.

Th e evening experiences gave us some renewed encourgement and realization that good was being done and a reminder that things happen on God’s time table not ours.

God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Taking care of business (March 21)

Well to-day was a day of taking care of a bunch small things. We started the day by preparing letters for the Kelly’s -(Linda by hand and me on the computer so I could include some of the pictures we took while painting). We then called them to confirm they had gotten home from California last evening and arranged to visit t in the afternoon to welcome them home.

I had been using the church bus for transportation but this morning it needed to go in for servicing because John Dobbs is driving a group to Tulsa for a workshop leaving to-morrow morning at 5. So I drove it over and John picked me up. He then graciously gave us the use of his van for the rest of the day.

David (Kilbern) suggested that we get some type of welcome home gift for the Kelly’s on behalf of the church & Operation Love your neighbor. Linda had the idea of getting plants and materials to fill 2 planters she had seen at the house. So we headed out to Lowes to get that –we ended up getting a nice hanging basket with petunias and some other plants. While doing that we dropped by Charlotte’s house (the one we tore out) and took “after” pictures - we also had found the house we visited the first Friday we were here that hadn’t been cleaned out yet. It has now been “mucked out” and then had the walls torn out – so we took some after pictures there as well

We had lunch “in” (made our own and ate in the BBB). Over lunch we did some looking to find a campground in San Antonio. Linda was faster with AAA Campground book than I was on the INTERNET and found a KOA. However, the INTERNET still camein handy – I was able to see how far (5 miles) it would be to the hotel where Chris & Tammye & kids are staying and I was also able to get some pictures of the site to give us some comfort that it was a reasonable spot. It was good to get that done since we will be there in less than a week and sometimes it is hard to find convenient campgrounds that aren’t fully booked.

Around 1:30 we headed over to visit the Kelly’s. It was good meeting them. They are very nice people and they needed time to tell their story – they were alone in the house and were getting quite alarmed when the water was up to their knees – but then it peaked and went back down. Linda is searching for a word to describe the sense of confidence they showed by staying in their house without taking the precaution of moving photo albums and other memorabilia up to higher locations so they lost a lot of pictures and other things that might have been saved with a few hours of preparation.

The carpet people were installing the carpet to-day so we hope to take a crew there tomorrow to move in furniture and get the revamped part of the house ready to live in.

Kathy (on left) who is one of the volunteers who works in the kitchen is a friend of Marlene (Mrs. Kelly) and she dropped by while we were there. It gave us a chance to get to know her better and to find out about here struggle with and victory (for now) over cancer. Before we left we shared a time of prayer.

After we left the Kelly’s we went out to WALMART to pickup some coffee for the kitchen (6 big cans) and picked up a few things we needed. On the way back we stopped at the Dollar General for a bit. We had driven past it every time we went to the Kelly’s and Linda wanted to see what they had. Lots of neat stuff –similar to “A buck or two” back home.

We spent some time before supper organizing and cleaning up in the auditorium. A bunch of new (used) clothes had come in and hadn't been sorted and hung up --Linda worked on that. One of the groups that came in this week had brought a bunch of stuff with them and it was all piled in boxes along the side of the auditorium interfering with access and blocking some of the seating. I was sorting through that and moving it to various other storage locations around the building. There is such a volume of stuff passing through here it is hard to keep it organized and to keep any semblance of order in the building.

John Dobbs spoke this evening with a discussion on baptism – reasons why people shouldn’t do it and reasons why they should – well done –there was a couple who was planning to be baptized to-night- she was coming from out of town and he had gone to pick her up and their car broke down so John preached the sermon he had prepared anyhow.

After service, we said good-bye to John (Dobbs) and a couple of the other folks who are going with him to Tulsa. They have become family in the time we have been here. We pray for safe travels and God’s blessing on them as they return to the work here..

I also got to exercise some of my limited technical skills tonight – Sandy – lady from California in the other motor home that is here – I mentioned them before -- anyhow she has been trying to get her laptop to connect with the INTERNET by the wireless connection. It took me a while but eventually I was able to sort it out – she was thrilled to get her email and I was glad I got it going or else I wouldn’t have been able to sleep to-night if I had an unsolved problem haunting me.

We had an email from Richard & Dorothy Mcnaughton to-night with news about their lives. Richard and Dorothy are friends of ours and members of our church family back home. Dorothy is visually impaired having battled with glaucoma for a number of years. She had surgery a year or so ago that had made a big improvement – unfortunately a recent checkup found things getting worse again and she is now scheduled for surgery on March 30. Please be praying for her and for successful surgery.

Good night and God Bless
Charlie & Linda

Monday, Monday (March 20)

Although this is about Monday I’m doing it Tuesday a.m. – I guess I’ll have to be known as “day late” Charlie since I don’t have any excuse except I was too beat to do it last night – I was sound asleep shortly after 10 and that after a half hour watching TV with Linda.

It is chaotic around here Monday mornings trying to get 150 volunteers organized and sent out on jobs. I mentioned on Saturday that John Sanders had helped the folks from Nashville ( Dianne Griffin, her sister, and a nephew) finish the tear out at Charlotte’s house. However, they hadn’t removed the linoleum on the kitchen floor so I went there at 8 and did that small job. (Lindahad taken her Monday morning medication that she has to take an hour before eating breakfast so she was delayed in being ready to go. )

It took less than ½ hour to do that. However, on looking around I decided that the one ceiling really needed to come down since it was warped and had several holes in it. Trying to fix it would be more effort than doing it over—and obviously would look better. Upon my return I talked to people to get directions on the bleach spray (50/50 water and bleach) that is used to kill of f any of the black mold that is remaining and gathered up sprayers and other tools we needed.

I had commandeered the church bus for transportation but to do that I had to ferry other work crews to their jobs. David Kilbern was taking a group from Americorp? (these are young college age kids that spend 18 months in a program that includes community service projects) to scope out a drywalling job and he dropped us off at the house – after I extracted a promise that he would come back by so I could take him to the church and retain our wheels. We had barely gotten started when they returned on their way back to the building to get tools and supplies needed. . I left Linda(with some trepidation) at the house while I did this. When I got back Linda had removed the ceiling and was cleaning up. She also with her eagle eye pointed out that the sub-floor in the kitchen had a “hump” in it – it was fairly new plywood and I had thought it would be OK – but the water had caused it to swell in this one spot right dead center so it had to come out. I f you know how sub-floors are nailed you will understand that was hard work!!.

We had an interesting incident just as we were leaving the building with David. Linda had seen Kenny ( a guy that is here recuperating from a 15 ft. fall from a roof) heading off in his wheel chair. When she asked him where he was going he said ”Mobile” (that’s 30 miles!!). I have to admit that I was a little “blasé” when Linda told me this and was of the mind that there wasn’t anything we could do about it. – but her compassion for people meant she couldn’t just ignore it. So she told David about it and we spotted him on a side street a couple of blocks away –turned out he had a Dr’s appt. in Mobile but had neglected to tell anyone so a ride could be arranged – David in his fashion got him calmed down and when we got back last evening Kenny was here as usual—he told me that he had made arrangements for his care to be transferred to the local VA hospital rather than having to go all the way to Mobile.

Anyhow, we did finish the tearing out the ceiling and sub floor – cleaned up our mess an, with John Sanders helped sprayed the bleach so we are done there. Charlotte had wanted a wall torn out but it is “load bearing “ so James came over and we looked at what would be needed for a beam if that was to be done. Between James & Linda they came up with a scheme for re-organizing the kitchen and removing part of 2 walls that would really open up the space in the house. To-day we’ll call Charlotte and show her these ideas to see if they suit her. Unfortunately, when we go back to the house yesterday the cleanup crew was there loading the junk so I didn’t get a picture of the big pile of stuff that came out. This “after” picture shows it with the walls completely torn out. (Picture added July 20)

We also want to go back and welcome the Kelly’s home to-day.

Last evening after services John Sanders showed a home video taken by the York’s who lived at Pass Christian. They stayed in their home during Katrina and videoed the progress of the storm. They ended up in a small cramped attic and had chopped a n exit hole to get to the roof when the water was a the ceiling level. However, the water stopped rising about 2 inches before it would have came up into the attic. It was quite surreal to see all the furniture floating around the house and to hear the lady-calmly saying “everything’s gone” (actually while she was calm you could certainly hear the pain and sadness in her heart) but it was obvious that in the face of wondering if they would escape with their lives the priority of ”things” was not as high as most of us think it is. The closing line was “Thank God we are OK and the house is still standing” The other impression – since they were inside and couldn’t get outside – was a sort of calmness – the force of the storm really wasn’t apparent until they drove around and videoed the aftermath.

Well I got to go
God bless
Charlie & Linda

Monday, March 20, 2006

That’s what I like about Sundays (March 19)

In general today was a quiet restful day.

We had a great church service this a.m. with well over 200 in attendance . There was a large contingent from churches in Kansas and Arkansas and from a Christian church in Missouri along with some folks from other faith groups in Georgia and the regular group from Pascagoula. John Dobbs had invited me to lead the Lord’s table and even though I’ve done that lots of times at home for some reason I was very nervous – I’m not really sure why but probably it had to do with the size of the crowd and the fact there were so many people I didn’t know anything about . See John's blog for a pictureofmedoing this

I used a comparison with marriage to illustrate the need to avoid becoming “comfortable”, taking our relationship for granted and becoming selfish in thinking that we deserve to have our partner serve us. To avoid this we need to remember what it was like without the relationship and what the other person has given to make the relationship possible.

We invited David and Elaine Kilburn to go out to lunch with us and that was a good time. Their son David Jr. also joined us. David actually shut off his phone and it was a really good visit. For the 2nd Sunday in a row we ate at a Chinese buffet – obviously popular wit h the church folks here since we saw several other families there as well. I guess it is there equivalent of the Swiss Chalet!!

I spent the rest of the afternoon working on some backlogged email and looking at MAPQUEST for distances to sort out when we needed to leave and where we would be going next. John (Dobbs) said in services this a.m. that they weren’t going to let us go- they’d take the wheels of the BBB or something. It is humbling to have people wanting us to stay when it seems like so little that we have done. This afternoon he had parked his van behind the motor home so I was kidding him by saying that the van wouldn’t stop us from going – we could just push it aside.

We need to be in San Antonio on the 29th to meet Chris & Tammye. We want to visit Mark & Nancy Klym in Bastrop. Mark & Nancy were part of the Pinehill congregation for many years before they moved to Texas about 5 years ago. We want to visit my cousin Alma Bunting in Belton TX – Bastrop is very near Austin and Belton is about 60 miles north. . We want to do some touring on the Gulf coast in Texas.

We were also hoping to get to Houston to see my nephew Craig Ford & his wife Jerri and their baby Hannah. but the timing hasn’t worked. They are going to Papua New Guinea as missionaries leaving in June, Before then they are leaving this week for a farewell tour to visit her parents in Colorado? and then Craig’s parents (Art & Ruby Ford – Ruby is my next younger sister) in Ontario For more about them and their plans see

(As a side note I received another big bunch of pictures from Megan’s wedding and a family dinner that was held the night before – I was good to see the 4 generation picture of my Dad, my brother John, my nephew Brian and his son “little” John . This is my Dad’s latest great-grandchild – I think it makes 33 or 34. He also has several “great--great grandchildren as well -- I believe that the whole crew with “in-laws” totals over 90 so when my Dad turns 90 next year he may be able to claim at least one descendent for each year.

Still not sure when we will leave Pascagoula but it will be this week probably Thursday or Friday. -- Lord willing (and John doesn’t disable our vehicle)

To-night they opened the new “cafeteria”.—what a change – They had been feeding everyone (over 125 people for last 2 weeks) 3 meals a day in a small “annex” beside the church building. David Kilbern found a n old Pizza parlor 2 blocks away that had been wrecked by the storm. The owner agreed to let the church use it rent free for 3 years in return for fixing it up. Geoff and a number of other workers have put in long hours often after a days work on other projects in the community to get this facility ready. Geoff – adapting a military tradition – had asked the volunteers who are coming from other places to decorate a ceiling tile so Linda did a very nice one with Canadian flag and passage from Colossians that says whatever we do we work as if for the Lord. See John's blog for apicture of us with Geoffand the tile

We made our weeklycalls to our family – Melissa and Chris yesterday & Kevin on Saturday – Had several emails from other family and friends that kept us up to date on things in their lives. Thank you all for doing that.

That’s what I like about Sunday’s – a time to build and renew our relationships – with God and with others – a time to reflect and think about what has been done and what is next and a time to doze off while looking at maps --

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A day of distant celebrations (March 18)

After our return to Pascagoula I found out some additional information about Dauphin Island (see my post for March 17) It may have been Ivan in 2004 rather than Katrina in 2005 that did the damage there. This would explain the amount of completed new construction (that did seem a little puzzling although there is still a lot of damage and a lot of construction underway) -- Also it is a long narrow”spit” of land and apparently a big chunk was washed away that left a bunch of houses on a “new” island that is no longer accessible.

Today was my brother Rob’s birthday. Best wishes Rob – hope you had a good day.

Also to-day we missed the creation of a new family. My niece Megan married John. Her three children and his three constituted the wedding party - she was escorted down the aisle by her 2 sons. So in this case 1 plus equals 8 in the new family.

Both Megan and John had lost their spouses several years ago and we rejoice that they have come together. We hated to miss this wedding since it was in Sault Ste. Marie. The one positive was that Megan’s brother and family and other out-of-town guests were able to stay at our house Thanks to my brother Rob for forwarding pictures taken by his daughter Trishia – another niece

We got an email from Linda’s sister Arliss this a.m. giving us the news from that side of the family – Thanks Arliss.

We took the day off to clean and do some things around “home” today. Linda spent most of the afternoon cleaning up and washing towels, etc. in the area that is used for showers. She started by going to do some of our laundry but couldn’t stand the mess. I vacuumed the BBB and did some notes on the computer for tomorrow.

The people from Tennessee along with John Sanders worked at the house again today and the tearing out so I guess we’ll be looking for another project on Monday. We will probably have to leave Wednesday or Thursday to make the connections we want to make before going to San Antonio to meet with Chris, Tammye and Hunter in San Antonio on March 29.

In closing I’ll mention that things don’t always go well for people who are committed showing God’s love through service to others. David Baker who is one of the coordinator’s had his vehicle wrecked a few days ago because a lady ran a red light. She was taking meds and wasn’t supposed to be driving and ended up being arrested. Fortunately he wasn't (seriously) injured and I think he was more concerned about the lady being arrested than anything else.

Another volunteer from Pennsylvania (I think) hit her head while getting into a vehicle (back seat of a truck) and ended up with a concussion and had to be flown home.

I don’t know why these things happen but I do trust that God can and will work good regardless. I did want to say that I so much appreciated David’s attitude that he wasn’t going to let a small thing like the loss of his vehicle interfere with his commitment to serve.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Where the Dolpins play and the hurricanes rage (March 17)

May the road rise up to meet you and the wind always be in your back. …

St. Patrick’s day has a meaning to us because of Linda’s Irish heritage – in fact one of my nicknames for her is “Irish”. and (whether it has anything to do “Irish blood”) her favorite color fits with this theme. However, our celebration of the day is low key - often going by without a lot of hoorah.

In the morning, we returned to gutting the house. I was removing cabinets & plumbing fixtures to expose sheetrock in kitchen, and bathroom for “demolition” Linda and her boots. Actually, she spent a lot of the morning going around the top edges – up and down the ladder – removing a 2 inch strip of sheet rock around the top. (Obviously the house was built before a precise 8 foot ceiling was adopted ). Late in the morning I got into a difficult time removing some ¾”plywood that had been screw nailed into the wall to make a cupboard in the bathroom and it took some hard word to break the screws through the plywood. Boy I could have used a “saws all” for 2 minutes and saved a lot of energy!!

We played hooky yesterday (John Dobbs was wondering in his blog about where we were. We had told David Kilburn were going off for the afternoon and not to give away our spot but with everything going on I doubt he had time to mention that to anyone else. By the way, thanks to John and David’s son David Jr. for getting the wireless connection working again. I know I was whining about it a lotmore than I should have. I appreciate it)

Just before we left 2 ladies and one of their sons had come from Tennessee for a couple of days and David suggested that they could do “cleanout” at the house. We had been just piling stuff in the middle of the floor with the idea that next week we would grab some college kids to move it to the curb. I see from the picture on John’s blog that they must have gotten most of it cleaned out.

Anyhow, we took the “BBB” and went for a short trip over into Alabama to a small island (Dauphin Island) just below Mobile Bay. To get there you goover alongcauseway and then a fairly long bridge -- nothinglike the "Mighty Mac" orthe bridge to PEI but still veryimpressive. I didn't clock it but I'd guess it is 4 to 5 miles offshore. The picture is taken from the island looking back to the Alabama coast. You can just see the high part of the bridge in the background

The pamplet we got at the Alabama welcome centre described it as "Where the dolphins play". It was obviously inundated by the hurricane - all these fancy beach houses built on stilts (8 to 10 feet high) to avoid flooding were knocked helter skelter with many of them totally destroyed. The pictures don't do it justice.

Obviously, this is normally a bustling tourist area . It may have been a little early in the season but there was very little left of the restaurants, hotels and other things that you might expect in an area like that. The beach itself was really torn up and there were big banks of sand along the roads – The Canadians reading this will be able to visualize what our roads look like after a foot or 2 of snow has fallen.

It is a long narrow strip of land and I was looking to turn around. The only pavement was a narrow 2 lane street and Linda was deathly afraid (and likely with good reason) that I would pull off the pavement and go axle deep in sand. I found a driveway that looked fairly solid and turned in being careful to leave the drive wheel on the pavement – it took a couple times back and forward but we did get turned – don’t want to think ofwhat the towing bill would be if I had gotten stuck. -- The houses and beaches are at the west end of the island. The 2nd last picture - actually taken before the one of the houses is at the east end of the island showing historic Fort Gaines.

There are a lot of oil platforms in the gulf visible from the island. I guess they are up high enough and anchored well enough that the storm didn't hurt them too much but I don't know.

We stayed overnight at a WALMART (our favorite campground!!!) and did some shopping this a.m. before coming back to our parking spot beside the church.

Charlie & Linda

Friday, March 17, 2006

From the sublime to the ridiculous (March 16)

I’m running a day behind because I’ve lost my network connection and I am using the church computer. It is more available in the a.m. than at night.

The question “What’s next David?” was what we asked David Kilbern when we had finished the house. And we also said “No more painting please.

Anyhow he gave us a “tear out” job. It is a small 4 room house that was half gutted. The first picture shows how it was when we walked in. We took the dry wall down in the living room and part of the kitchen yesterday. The title “From the “sublime to the ridiculous” came to mind because of the extreme change in what we were doing. We have moved from one end of the process (finishing the house so people could move in) to the other (destroying what is there to allow for the rebuilding and restoration).

I say this because there is nothing ridiculous or funny about walking into a house that had 30 inches of water flood in and all the walls and floors are unsalvageable.

We met Charlotte who owns the house. She had had renovations done – new wiring and upgraded bathrooms but because of the flood damage she has decided to tear it allout to the studs and start over. There was no insulation and when you get the drywall off you can see daylight through the cracks.

The pictures show Linda getting into it - having fun kicking out a piece of drywall with her boots. She started out cleaning out cupboards while I was pulling carpet and linoleum and she wasn't really thrilled but then she found out that "These boots are made for... stomping" (Remember the song "These boots were made for walking??").

One thing that was interesting is that after getting to know the Kelly’s over the past 2 weeks it felt a little strange –almost like leaving home to not be going there again, There are things that need to be done and I feel like I should be staying on top of them so they don’t fall through the cracks. It is so difficult for people like John (Dobbs) and David Kilbern. There are so many needs -- how do you set priorities and choose who to help. One thing for sure is that you have to make some choices and then be sure that the commitments you make are met. There are so many people who have been let down with promises made and not kept that one of the key priorities here is to show God’s love by keeping their word.

Last evening, the group from OCU (Oklahoma Christian), who are leaving today, shared some of their thoughts about the week they spent here. It was very moving to see these “kids” who have worked their hearts out cleaning out tons of debris from yards in this neighborhood and touching many lives as they did this – it is about healing broken spirits as well as cleaning up the mess left by Katrina. One girl shared that a lady had said to her – When I came down our street to-day it was so neat and clean I could feel pride in my community and in myself for the first time since August 29.

I had wanted to include some pictures of the Kelly house showing before and after but I'm out of time -- I'm showing a picture of us with John Kelly in the "courrtyard" where Linda planted the flowers.The picture was taken just as we were leaving the house to move on to other things.

God Bless

Thursday, March 16, 2006

What's next David? (March 15)

Well, we finished at the house to-day (Wednesday). 11 days of work – 13 gallons of paint (Linda sang the Hallelujah chorus!! Or at least the start of it!!! ) I told John (Kelly) –“Nothing personal but I sure am glad we aren’t coming back here tomorrow”.

David (Kelly) was back at the house finishing the electrical work and that is also pretty well done. All it needs is carpet and its’ ready to move in.

We didn’t take our lunch because we expected to be finished by noon or shortly there after. However, we were delayed by several conversations with John and his brother David related to how we could help get the place ready for their parents when they came in on Monday night. We also heard more of their story. There are 3 brothers who live in Pascagoula (plus the sister in California). All 3 of them had their homes flooded. The oldest brother was rescued from a tree limb and he is virtually incapacitated by the trauma of it all. He had moved back to Pascagoula from Florida because he had rode out 2 hurricanes there in consecutive years – and was just getting some confidence back when Katrina hit.

All the painting was done by noon but there was still the cleanup –sweeping floors, etc that we wanted to do to get the rooms ready for the carpet. John went out and bought us shrimp “Po-boy” sandwiches for lunch – never had one before but it was delicious. He is doing much better and is able to get around without grimacing in pain the way he did when we first met him.

We had hoped that the carpet would be installed tomorrow or Friday and we could organize a work crew of the college kids to go in Saturday and set up some of the furniture. However, John found out that the carpet is back ordered at Lowe’s and probably won’t get here until next Tuesday. Mr. & Mrs. Kelly are flyng into Mobile next Monday – I mentioned before that they wanted to drive and John was trying to talk them out of it -- From what I’ve heard of their determination, I think it was nothing short of a miracle that he was successful

John was talking to his mother this morning explaining the situation and she decided that they would stay in a room – originally the a family room -- that wasn’t redone (yet). It was being used as a bedroom for a while when they were staying there after the flood and it has 2 beds in it. This was better than putting beds in and then having to take them out again when the carpet came. When Linda found out about that she spent most of the afternoon cleaning that room, making up the beds and getting it set up so they could walk in and go to bed when they arrive late Monday night. I spent the afternoon going through the rooms we had painted making sure that the floors were carpet ready lean and ready for the carpet and doing other minor things like removing masking tape from door hinges. I also scrubbed the tile floor in the foyer to be sure we got all the paint drops off. It was a good feeling to walk out knowing it was ready for them and that it looked good.

When we were ready to go I called John Dobbs on his cell to ask him to arrange a pickup in about 30 minutes.. He was at Lowes loading a trailer of material for his house (which was flooded as well and they are in the final stages of repairing it having lived in a camper in their driveway for several months. He said he would contact someone to come get us. About forty-five minutes later John (Kelly) and his girlfriend Tammy came to the house and said they were going to come to the church to eat with us tonight. So we decided to ride back with them(and come back later to pickup our load of ladders, etc.). – and hoping that we would get here before any one was dispatched to pick us up. Turns out John had forgotten. I saw him after services tonight and he looked me and said – Oh, oh – Did you get a ride. I gave him a bit of a hard time about forgetting but as it worked out we had a good visit with John (Kelly) and Tammy. John took his truck back to the house after eating and got the stuff. When he returned we had them come in to the motorhome and showed them some pictures of the house while we were working there as well as pictures of our family -- which of course took a lot of persuasion to get us to do – NOT!!

(Note to John Dobbs—you are forgiven because as usual God worked it out in a better way – and besides it gave me a reason to mention you today so you won’t have to complain about being ignored like you did yesterday !! (just kidding)

Well its getting late and I want to put some pictures in this. So I’ll close (Actually it is now Thursday a.m. and there aren't anypictures -forsomereason I'velost my wirelessconnection and I've hadto comein and hook up directly to thenetwork-- soI'll do some pictures next time when I have a better setup (and more time)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Getting out of the house -almost (March 14)

A few I “forgot to mention’s from the past couple of day’s
1. Linda called her mother last night and found out that her youngest sister Stephanie was home for a visit. She had a good visit with them on the phone.

2. I called Roger(- the preacher at Pinehill to catch upon how things were going at home. He was filling me in on the efforts to support a man who has just returned to the community from a prison sentence. The church is doing what they can to help him get settled in. We pray that the church there can be a blessing to him and that his journey can be enriched by a ever increasing relationship with Jesus.

3. I also found out from Roger that the Great Lakes chorus presentation planned for Sunday evening didn’t take place because their bus had mechanical problems and they didn’t arrive in Sault until after 10 p.m. Even though we aren't there our house was used to billet someofthe students --withmy sister-in-law Marilyn as the hostess. This coming weekend our house will be full again with guests in town for my niece Megan's wedding on Saturday. We are pleased that we can do this even though we aren't there.

4. David Baker who is one of the coordinators of “Operation Love Thy neighbor” here in Pascagoula had his vehicle demolished in an accident yesterday. Lady taking medications which meant she shouldn’t drive ran a red light and hit him. The good news is that he was not seriously injured – just some bumps and bruises. We know that God will work good from this but it does seem difficult to accept that someone who was here helping with one tragedy should be involved in something like this.

5. I have previously mentioned John Sanders from Rhode Island who is here working part0time on paid jobs and part time volunteer .Last evening in a conversation with him I discovered he is also very involved as Co-chair of with a missions effort in Ghana -- see Christ's Co-mission International -- his commitment to serving can be an example to us all.

6. We had learned from Melissa that she hurt her knee while in Connecticut. She waited until she was home to see a doctor because of the medical coverage she had. Anyhow, she was afraid it was a torn ACL (knee ligament) but she saw Dr. yesterday and he thought it was something else – and it could be treated by physiotherapy. She had X-rays this a.m. and once the Dr. has seen those he should be able to confirm (or I suppose change) his diagnosis – We are praying that it is not serious and that the physio will do the trick.

Well on to some "new business"

It was a windy but warm last night and I was sleeping with the window open. We are right beside a fairly busy street and there seemed to be more traffic than normal all through the night plus some thing that sounded like bowling with tin cans going on at the building across the street – as a result – I didn’t sleep all that well last night

Getting to the showers (only 2 for over 50 people) is difficult soI thought I would beat the crowd by going over at 6 (after all that is 7 by our clocks) but believe it or not the place was buzzing—and I had a minor wait before I could go ahead.

Well, we ALMOST finished the painting to-day. All of the walls are DONE!!! -- the trim in one room remains to be done. I’m finished- (I had thought of using the immortal words of Martin Luther King Jr. “Free at at last…” but I really can’t compare my situation to the one he was describing.) It was a great feeling to be washing up the brushes knowing it was DONE!!. I am willing to do anything else but paint for the rest of the time we are here.

Linda will finish the trim to-morrowmorning. I'll finishingcleaning the floors soit is "carpet ready". Probably would have finished the trim to-day but she ran out of paint. She had been talking to John (Kelly) this morning and he said he would like to plant some flowers for his mother--- Linda was excited about getting her hands into the dirt and said she would do that if he got the plants. She wasn’t going to start that until the painting was done but when she ran out of paint she diverted to that while waiting for John to get another gallon. Once he started she wanted to finish so we spent about 3 hours to-day outside – her planting flowers and I cleaned up the front entrance—there were leaves to sweep up as well moving a pile of old lumber & doors to the curb.

John’s brother David (another David!!) showed up today—he is an electrician and he came to reinstall the receptacles which had all be removed to allow replacement of the plaster. The carpet is supposed to be installed Thursday or Friday. Mr & Mrs. Kelly are flying home and will be here Monday. We are hoping to be able to send a crew on Saturday to help John put furniture in the house – it would be neat to have it ready for them to move in. Since we are staying until next week we will likely get to meet them before we leave.

Godnight& God Bless
Charlie& Linda

Monday, March 13, 2006

Painting, Painting, Painting …

In his posting for last Sunday John Dobbs talked about the group that spent the afternoon, assembling lawn mowers to prepare for mowing lawns and cleaning up yards. Someone put a comment on this posting that said “Mowing, mowing, mowing …” and then went on to say they were thinking of “Rawhide” - Well in the same vein, if I had some talent I could do a takeoff on Rawhide that had the line “painting, painting, painting ..."

However the good news is – Linda said to-day “I think we can finish tomorrow and those who know her will realize that means we are going to finish tomorrow.

There was another baptism here yesterday as well as a wedding – you could see John’s s journal for details (and pictures) if you wish.

I had a great visit with John (Dobbs) this p.m. He had given us a ride to the “house” this morning. And I suggested that if he had time he could bring us coffee in the afternoon so we could chat a little. I was very interested in his view of how Katrina had “transformed” the church here –and how they were dealing with the turmoil, and hard work that had come their way. He told us a lot of his personal story and the impact of having their own house flooded, dealing with that while at the same time spending so much time meeting the needs of the people in the community. As he says each week – the folks here are “bone tired” but when a new group comes in and they see their energy it means that the people here can continue for another week– so they take it a day at a time -- a week at time and for 7 months they have served (almost) 24/7.

We also shared a lot our thinking on church leadership and directions – I was blessed to have the time with him and I hope that having someone to talk to was helpful to him as well. We started talking at 3:30 and the next thing I knew it was 5 and time to come back to the building. (Roger – you likely can relate to this from our experience at the Tuesday breakfasts!!) ).

At noon we realize we needed some more paint so I knocked on the trailer and got John (Kelly) to go pick some up. We hadn’t seen any sign of him all morning and we hadn’t seen him since Wednesday. We were a little concerned whether something had happened to him so it was good to see him. When he brought the paint we talked a little and Linda showed off the bathroom that she had finished painting and cleaning this a.m.

Another couple -- Jim? and Sandy Williamson from California -- showed up today with their motor home. so there are 2 machines parked here now.

Robbie, one of the guys who is staying here at the building stopped us on the way out from services this evening and said he wanted to make us something. He uses palm reeds and made Linda a rose and a cross to hang in the motor home—really neat gift. from a neat guy. –

For someone at Pinehill please pass on to Linda's "kids" from her Sunday cless - that she is missing them and please share with them some of what she is doing her.

Well it’s past 10 and that’s my bedtime

Good night & God Bless
Charlie (and Linda)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Pot Pourri (March 12)

Some Sundays at home we have potluck dinners -- this posting is a "potluck" of various items

We visited with Harry & Ann Lane this p.m. – they took us for lunch at a nice small Chinese place in Ocean Springs. They have a beautiful home that they just finished repairing due to damage from about 3 inches of flood water and a tree through the roof. Picture shows them with Linda in their back yard. Very nice people – and they have a motor home too so that makes it even better!!!

After lunch, they drove us up the coast west to Pas Christian –Incredible destruction that got worse as we went west towards the eye of the storm. (I've put acouple of pictures at the bottom but they don't do it justice)

Our home congregation at Pinehill was hosting the Great Lakes Christian College chorus this evening -- sorry tohavemissed it --

We made our weekly calls to our kids this evening . Melissa is homesafe --but she twisted her knee --may have torn ACL -- she will see Dr. this week to findout. Kevin had a cold week before last - was just getting better and then had flu this week. Hope he gets rid of this since itis interfering with the time he needsto spend on his research. Chris is doing OK but there has been a hitch in his Sargeant's promotions and it is delayed. Not sure what happened -Hunter has had an expander installed to stretch his jaw to make more room for his teeth- sounds horrible -Anyhow we have them all in our prayers each day.

More on the Kilbern’s: Further to my earlier post about David & Elaine. It is difficult to get time to talk to David and learn much about him. His cell phone rings constantly – people with needs, workers needing supplies or directions, people interested in coming to help. It is a frantic pace. He was the operations engineer for CableOne – cable outfit for this area and was the main force in building it from the ground up so he is used to construction, logistics and dealing with people. Elaine and Linda seem to have connected - understanding what it is to have a “task driven” husband to deal with. One thing I’ve observed about David is his compassion and willingness to go beyond a rough exterior to help the person inside. There are several people here who have told me the same thing. They were down & out – struggling with serious personal problems and they came here looking for clothes or food and David took them in – and gave them work that helped restore their sense of worth - many of them are on a (renewed) walk with God because of this compassion. David isn’t a pushover and doesn’t often get burned but he has the toughness to let the failures roll off his back. I think of the words of Mordecai about Esther? “Who knows but God that he has put you here for this purpose” (rough quote – Joseph also made a similar comment to his brothers when they were reunited in Egypt)

Some items from Linda’s journal over the past week – a different perspective
“Getting to know more people as the time goes on although with all those kids here were aren’t mixing as much – having breakfast in BBB and taking a lunch with us. Saves wasting a lot of time in lines and getting back and forth trying to get rides”

“Wednesday p.m. John (Kelly) ordered pizza for the girls but they weren’t there – off on a tour of Biloxi – He (John) says he would like me (Linda) to be here when his Mom come home as we must be a lot alike (I think he is a little afraid of what his mother will think of the repairs and wants someone else “in between” (Charlie)

“Didn’t see John (Kelly) all day Thursday (or Friday or Saturday” – (we have knocked on the trailer door but no one appears to be there – although his truck is in the driveway – we are concerned and hope everything is OK with him – we’ll see Monday I guess. – Charlie)

(from Thursday) “I went to get some ice for a girl that had a sore ankle and she told me she was sorry she hadn’t been able to work with us as she had heard so many good things from the ones who had”

March 10- Friday “Well the house felt empty today without all our extra girls”

Pictures along coast
1. Highway 90 bridge used to to across the bay to Biloxi -- it move the whole deck section sideways 8 to 10 feet;

2. This whole block was once filled with houses; the one shown is barely standing

3. We are back 2 full blocks from the highway which is about 50 yards from ocean. There were about 8 houses on the streetbefore the one shown standing-allcompletely destroyed; what mayappear tobe apark used to be a streetfullofhouses.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The forgetful blogger

I mentioned before that John Dobbs (the preacher here at Central) does a daily journal entry. A couple of times last week he was doing his entry after midnight and I was calling him the ” midnight blogger” - I haven’t done that- I’m usually out well before11 and I have been doing some of my entries early in the morning. However, I seem to always forget something and within a few minutes I’m either back making changes or trying to remember to mention something the next time.

So I forgot to mention that
- I have enabled comments – just click on the highlighted comments field and you can see any comments that have been made and submit your own. I’d enjoy your observations – but please be kind

- One evening when we were doing our daily Bible reading Linda thought I had dozed off (and may be I was close to it) so she finsished her readingandcontinued on to say “Jump up and run up the hill and take the little red rooster with you”. I said “little red rooster?? and looked at her with a look that set her to laughing her head off. This has become a way to get some comic relief if things get a bit tense.

- We are grateful to Karen Morin for sending us the Pinehill bulletin information each week, to Rob for taking care of some business for us and keeping us updated on news from home and to Roger for his encouraging email regarding the “blog”

- We finally got some time to visit with David & Elaine Kilbern. David is the project coordinator for the relief effort here and Elaine is involved in many things especially organizing the feeding of the thousands and keeping some semblance of order around the building. We had talked to them a little following services Thursday and then they came by the house Friday to have a look and spent a little while visiting. It is difficult to imagine the dedication that it takes to be tied to this work almost 24/7. They were sharing the fact that while they are spending their time on this effort they have had to delay their own plans to update their house—it wasn’t damaged in the flood but David had recently retired and, after 30 years of being in the house they were planning to do some redecorating. Linda said maybe she should volunteer to help them with that but I had to remind her that we weren’t planning to stay 6 months!!! Pray that God grants the strength they need to continue this work.

- Ann & Harry Lake (mentioned them last Sunday) have asked us to go to their place in Ocean Springs Sunday p.m. so we will get another tour this week.

- I know there are some other things too but I forget so I guess you could call me the “forgetful blogger” (You know they say the memory is the second thing to go as you age and I forget the first!!)

Not too much new today (Saturday) – we are still at least a day short of finishing the painting –partly because Linda decided to paint the inside of the medicine cabinet and the vanity in the bathroom and partly because we are doing touch up and trim in the hallway and one bedroom. It wasn’t a very good afternoon for Linda—she was a bit frustrated at doing finishing work on the areas that had been done by the “kids” – it is always difficult coming behind someone who does things differently than you would – and then she spilled a whole bunch of paint on the one area of the hallway that is a finished tile floor – so she decided to take a break and just scrub the floor – wanted to be sure to get it off before it set. We need the day off to-morrow and we’ll give it a fresh start on Monday.

Had about 75 people arrive this p.m. –some from Madison Wisconsin, some from North Carolina and some from Oklahoma Christian. David from OCC spoke at the service this evening talking about the need to kneel down to the Christ within us – main theme was to encourage those who had come to serve to be sure to take the time to keep close to God before embarking on the service work –good thoughts and encouraging.
Our daughter Melissa is on her way home to Kingston (Ontario) after spending a month in New Haven doing lab experiments on plants. –related to her graduate work.

Goodnight and God Bless

The Kelly’s , JFK and PT 109

I suspect you are saying what’s up with JFK and PT109? I’ll get to that in a minute.

First the bad weather in the South hasn’t touched Pascagoula. It remains beautiful. We did have a few showers Thursday night and yesterday and it has been a little humid –but high 70’s with a nice breeze isn’t anything to complain about.

Second – great news – God is good. I had mentioned last time that Meredith – one of the college kids had had her bags stolen – well they weren’t!! They came back yesterday. She had left them close to the area where the clothing is available for people. A lady had been in looking for clothes and opened the bag – saw towels and thought it was for taking. When she got home and found out it was really someone’s stuff with wallet, phone etc. she drove back 30 miles from Mobile yesterday to return it. (As an aside Linda wanted me to mention that the “kids” had taken to calling us “Momma & Poppa Canada” – and we had great fun with “out and about, eh?)

We painted (what else!) again yesterday and we are getting close – maybe get it done to-day. We knocked off early- shortly after 3. We need to move the BBB to dump holding tanks so while we had it out we took a short spin to get some groceries and relax a little. As much as we love the people here it was nice to have some time “on our own” even if it was only a few hours.

The house we are painting is owned by William (Bill) and Marlene Kelly. This post is about their story. We haven’t met them so this information is based mostly on what we have gleaned through our conversations with their son John who lives in the trailer at the house. We did have a short conversation with Marlene on the phone. One day John came in while we were painting and gave me his cell phone and said “My mother wants to talk to you” She was expressing her gratitude for us helping out and saying how much they wanting to get home. (Currently t they are in California with their daughter)

Bill is 83 and is an invalid – he had been very healthy and active up until a couple of years ago when he contracted shingles and became bed-ridden – then he had a heart attack resulting in some paralysis of his vocal cords. The other day we heard some kids outside and then these 2 boys came in. It turned out they were John’s twin sons who had come by unexpectedly with their mother (Apparently a broken marriage since the mother and boys live in Lucedale and John had not mentioned that he had family). John wasn’t there so we had them come in to look at what we are doing. The boys told us that there grandfather (Bill) had had a “mint condition’ VW beetle. After Katrina it took 2 days to find it and when they did it was crushed almost flat by a tree. It is so heat breaking to think of how much pain something like Katrina would have caused – to lose all the things that had been so important to you. I can’t really imagine how I would respond although I would hope I could come the point of remembering that Jesus said we should lay up treasures in heaven rather than treasures on earth where not only moths but floods can destroy them. It certainly is a reminder of this truth.

Marlene is 73. She was in real estate and has a good eye for houses. They had lived in a 2 story house closer to the beach until 2 weeks before Katrina. They moved because Bill couldn’t go up stairs. Katrina “blew out” the first floor walls of their old houses. Bill & Marlene had stayed to “ride out” the storm and Johns’ opinion was that if they had still been in the old house they would have died because Bill couldn’t have made it to the safety of the 2nd floor. . Marlene has had back surgery – 6 ot 7 vertebrae fused and is semi-crippled herself. She told Linda a little of that story on the phone.

According to her grandsons’ mother, Marlene collected antiques. There was one beautiful china cabinet in the house lying on its back covered with plastic. Obviously it had floated and been bounced around during the flood. The legs were broken off and the glass in the doors was broken. The garage is full of clothes and furniture and there are 2 sheds in the back full of furniture that as far as we’ve been able to determine haven’t even been look at since the storm.

Their son John was on his way back from California when Katrina hit and didn’t get here until 2 days after the storm. He had gone out to help his sister move to Pascagoula to take care of her father and they were enroute with a U-Haul. When she got here and saw the devastation she decided she didn’t want to stay so she took her parents back to California with her. She is a nurse and was able to get her job and her house back. John and her would like their parents to just stay in California but they want desperately to come home. When she called Marlene said tome several times – “I want to come home”

These are people with a fierce sense of independence – John told us that they had bought a second hand car in California and wanted to drive it back --- a five day trip in their conditions seems difficult and he was trying to persuade them to sell the car and fly. I wouldn’t lay odds on what will happen!!.

Boy this has turned into an “epistle”. It is now after 7 Saturday a.m. Linda is up and I need to get going. Just a quick word about John. As I mentioned in an earlier post when we first started last week I was not feeling real good about painting away in an empty house. Monday, John came in (He is still hobbling pretty bad from his fall 3 weeks ago – fell off ladder onto concrete floor and cracked his tailbone).

We sat and talked for 20-30 minutes that day have have talked several other times. He has been in the restaurant business “all his life”. He had a building with equipment that he was leasing out. It was flooded and the equipment was destroyed (no flood insurance because it wasn’t in the flood plain – how often I have heard that statement!!) . He was also managing a restaurant for another guy and it was also flooded and is now closed down. Basically he lost all his sources of income. He shared that he had gone through period of alcohol abuse at one point in his life but he had been “OK” for many years. The flood and the turmoil had resulted in a relapse but he said he was getting back into recovery.

Pray for him and his parents—this is an unimaginable loss in their lives. And much of the “stuff” they had will be gone forever. Pray for them and pray that they can see that a focus on things eternal is the only real answer to this pain.

Oh yeah—What about JFK and PT109? John mentioned one day that his grandfather was the guy JFK rescued from PT109 and that he is named John Fitzgerald because of that connection. His mother has (or had) a letter from Rose Kennedy thanking them her for naming their son after her son

This intrigued me so I “googled” JFK PT109Kelly” and found this article. I had "excerpted" and the added boldtext for emphasis. See for the complete article.

A GLORIOUS GIFT [The Sun Herald]
Posted on Sat, Jan. 15, 2005 By QUINCY C. COLLINSTHE SUN HERALD GAUTIER, MISSISSIPPI - It's summer, 1943. The world's at war. A Japanese destroyer slices through a U.S. Navy patrol torpedo boat in the Solomon Islands. Fire erupts in the engine room. MoMM 2nd Class Patrick McMahon is knocked out and badly burned. PT 109's commander, Lt. John F. Kennedy, pulls McMahon from the sinking boat and swims the South Pacific to a nearby island with the sailor on his back. … his rescuer, and future president, visited him there (in hospital) to present him a 48-star American flag like the one that flew above their craft. For 60 years, the flag was in a ditty bag. Today, the flag has been preserved in a shadowbox now on display at Magnolia Framing Gallery in Gautier. It is unclear if the flag flew above PT 109 and was rescued from the fire. But to Bill Kelly, McMahon's stepson, who lives in Pascagoula, …., the flag is part of history and a symbol of the bond between veterans. The flag is 30 inches by 18. It is worn, with a few holes, but is in good condition. …. " I don't know if those are bullet holes or moth holes, maybe a little bit of both," Kelly said. He found the flag wadded up in his stepfather's ditty bag and inherited it after McMahon's death in 1990. Kelly, … gave .. the flag (for display ) on Veterans Day 2004 ….. "He said he'd like to display it," said Kelly, a Navy veteran. "I thought it would be terrific. It's part of history."
For a complete account of the sinking of PT109 and McMahon’s rescue by JFK see nt

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Fantastic Helpers

We have been blessed with a bunch of help this week from the college group that was here.

On Monday and Tuesday we had (firstpicture - left to right) Sierra, Katie, Meredith, and Danielle. (I just found out to-night that Meredith had a bunch of her stuff stolen including wallet, camera, phone and clothes - she was out workingon a job and had left the stuff in the church building in the area where the clothing is available to community people. It is sad that people would take advantage of this situation to steal and it is even sadder that someone who is volunteering their time to help the community would lose her stuff . While she was hurt and angry, I was impressed at her maturity in dealingwith it. She said "It was only stuff" . She grasped the fact that a thief could only take stuff but couldn't steal what had been givento her as resultof coming here to serve. )

We had some others for part of the time –Joni came Tuesday a.m. and there was a big chunk of fence that had fallen over that John asked if we could move. So I called Neal Alligood and he brought over 4 guys – Silas, Chris M. and Chris H. and Jeff.. After we moved the fence the guys stayed for the rest of the morning cleaning up the yard. – taking out nine bags of leaves.
(second picture shows this group plus original 4). Neal (and his friend Rick - private joke!!) was a real bonus. He ferried us back and forth, scrounged up supplies and brought them to us when we forgot. Great people!!

On Wednesday we had Jenna, Katie,(different one), Kathleen, Michaila, Lauren, and Lindsay. (Shown left to right in 3rd picture). Jenna, Lauren, Katie and Lindsay returned on Thursday.

These are great kids –lots of energy – and they had given up their March break to come here to serve because of their love for Jesus and wanting follow his example of loving others and serving them. We had a good time visiting with them as we worked and getting to know a little about them.

With all that help we left to-day (Thursday) with all of the walls painted except 1/2 half of the bathroom. . PLUS all of the floors were cleaned, windows washed and light fixtures cleaned AND the yard cleaned –Our goal is to make it as ready for “move in” as we possibly can and minimize the trauma for Mr. & Mrs . Kelly when they come back,

With all this help we are only left with finishing bathroom plus trim in hall and one bedroom.
We praise God for the blessing that we have felt to have this great group of kids share this work with us.
We pray for their safety as they travel home to-morrow(Friday)

The house painters

I started this primarily to allow our church, family and friends to keep tabs on us. However, some of the folks here may also be looking at it. I just wanted to say that my remarks are from an outside perspective and I may get a few things wrong -- I hope if that happens you will talk to me so I can correct any errors in fact or perception.

This post is primarily about the house we are painting. There are a "million stories" in this city and it would be impossible to write about them all but I will try to share some of them as time goes on --

With the college kids here the facilities are overloaded so we are continuing to feed ourselves breakfast and are making our own lunches and taking them with us to the “house” . We are getting there between 8 & 8:30 most days depending on how fast we can line up a ride. We are getting back between 5 & 5:30 and taking 30 to 45 minutes for lunch so for us it is a relatively long day. We have usually crashed when we got back and a couple of nights Linda has been too wiped to make it to services- I’ve been every night so far. I should say that Linda has been working on more physically demanding things doing trim which requires a steady hand and climbing up and down the ladder. I have had to spend a lot of time supervising the "kids" -- arranging supplies, etc. I also took a probably an hour in total to listen to the story of the family that we are helping. This is as important to these hurting people as the physiscal help.

Monday Neal Alligood spoke again –on serving using the example of Jesus washing the disciples feet. For more info on the group Neal is with see Campus Christian Fellelowship website (

Tuesday night the speaker was Al Sturgeon the preacher at the church in Ocean Springs. The following quote is from John Dobbs journal ( (John is the preacher here at Central – I’ll tell more about him in a later entry) “what a powerful message he brought! As a hurricane victim and hurricane relief worker, his testimony touched us all. He challenged us to live each day with the compassion of Christ and the willingness to serve others.”
Note- if you want to get more info on the work here and especially the blend of physical and spiritual help that is being provided I'd encourage you to track John's daily entry. I took this picture from his entry for Sunday (A good day) It Linda and I with Elwyn and Terry. They are from California and there is a story there I hope to get to this weekend.

OK- back to the ongoing saga of the erstwhile house painters.

If you look at the outside picture of the house from the earlier posting it may help you with following this description. The house has a large foyer/ entrance located about halfway back on the side of the main part of the house. There is a hallway off the entrance that goes down the middle from living room to bedrooms. At the back of the house is the living room, dining room and kitchen. Off the kitchen is a family room in behind the 2 car garage. There are two good sized bedrooms off one side of the hall. On the other side is the main bathroom and the master bedroom with an ensuite bath. You can see this is a good sized house .

As I mentioned before John (the owner’s son) was working with contractors to get the house ready for his parents. We are dealing with the entry/hallway, 3 bedrooms, LR and DR. The remaining rooms are either being left as is except for main bath which a contractor is rebuilding to put in an invalid shower for the father who is fairly crippled (using a walker) Before getting hurt the son had torn out the plaster up to 4 ft level and replaced with new sheetrock, replaced all the trim. He had a contractor do the taping, mudding and sanding and the new walls had been spray primed In LR & DR they had sprayed an “orange peel” texture top to bottom

When we came John (the owner’s son) told us it was “ready to paint”. A quick inspection showed otherwise since several of the bedrooms needed a lot of sanding on the original (top half) of the walls especially where there had been wallpaper removed.

As we started painting when found that the contractor who had done the taping and mudding had done a very poor job and many of the joints the paper was showing through. (It could be the pressure of too much to do and trying to help everyone that is leading to short cuts -- I don'tknow but the results were not good!!) .We just left those areas unpainted and talked to John about it. When (another) contractor) came to work on the bathroom we had him touch up some of the worst spots. Unfortunately, we had some others painting (more about that later) and some spots that needed touching up were al ready painted so we are going to need to redo a fair bit of those rooms.

Since Saturday Linda has been painting trim full time and it is getting to her shoulders. It is 7 Wednesday a.m as I write this part and I’m letting her sleep since she was up in the night taking ibuprofen for her shoulders and didn’t sleep well.

Look at John Dobb's site for a description of a neat event that happened following last night's service. We also had a chance to listen to the story of a (relatively) young man who had been crushed by additions, lost his family and had come here looking for clothes. David Kilbern befriended him, found him work and he is solidly back on the road to recovery with God as his lamp and strength -- he like so many is on a journey that ultimately only a relationship with God through Jesus can really make the difference.

Pray for these people and pray for us that we can minister in a way that shares the hope that we have.

God Bless
Charlie & Linda