In times of disaster, those of us who are far from the epicenter often quickly forget about the victims and move on with our daily lives. For example, the terrorist attacks of September 11 affected me for a while, mainly because I lived so close to New York City at the time. Five and a half years later, however, I am hard pressed to feel close to the same emotions. Even the shootings at Virginia Tech a few months ago seem to be in the distant past. I don’t mean to trivialize these disasters or act insensitively toward the victims and their families who are still losing sleep every night because of the rampant evil in the world.
Even natural disasters seem to drift from memory. Hurricane Katrina demolished the Gulf Coast region nearly two years ago, and I am sure I am not alone when I say that as a northerner far from the effects of the storm, it is merely a distant memory now. Other than the occasional reminder in the paper or story about sports teams moving back to New Orleans, I don’t think about it anymore. I’m ashamed of myself because of the devastation it caused – more than 1,800 deaths and more than $81 billion in damage.
That all recently changed. Our church here in Virginia Beach (and others, hopefully including my sister, Amy) is travelling to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, for a week-long service project/mission trip to help the Katrina victims. We will be staying and working with Lagniappe Presbyterian Church, building storage sheds for Katrina victims . This will be my first time witnessing the Katrina damage first-hand, and to be honest, I’m a little nervous. I’ve never ministered to people whose lives have been destroyed. I am definitely looking forward to the trip though – to help the victims physically and spiritually, to encourage the Lagniappe church, and to work side by side with fellow believers.
Bay St. Louis is a town on the Gulf Coast about an hour’s drive from New Orleans. Without getting into the politics of Katrina, I’m sure in all the media coverage, you heard mostly about the tragedy of New Orleans. The sad truth is that so many other towns were damaged as much or more than New Orleans. The levees broke in New Orleans, but towns like Bay St. Louis were hit head on with the wind, waves, and torrents of water. Because New Orleans was a hot spot for entertainment (debauchery?), the media is naturally drawn to its sensationalism.
Our team is leaving Virginia Beach early Saturday morning, June 30, and returning Sunday, July 8. Thank you to all who have so generously and warmly supported the team spiritually and financially. To date, we have raised more than $1200 over and above what we needed, which is allowing us to bring along a couple more people (interested? let me know).
As the trip approaches, keep the victims, the Lagniappe church, our team, and me in prayer. I will try to take lots of pictures and update you upon our return.