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Back home

March 17th, 2009

I arrived home Friday night March 13 after an adventurous, hard-working, full-filled, friend-making week with Mennonite Disaster Service in Cameron and Diamond, LA.

A few observations of my time spent in two small towns still recovering from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike.  First, you might wonder why these people want to move back home and rebuild, especially if there is another chance of a devastating storm.  The answer is simple.  It’s home.  It’s what they know, it’s where their friends and family are located, and it’s their land.  If you think about it, we all have the potential for disaster no matter where we live.  It can come in the way of wildfires in CA, flooding in the east,  snow and ice to the north, tornadoes in the midwest, etc.  No one is safe from natural disaster no matter where you live.  And in the case of many of the people I had the chance to meet, moving is a luxary they cannot financially afford.  Home is often not just where they own land, but where they make a living.

As far as the MDS short and long-term volunteers I spent time with this past week, they all came with a strong spirit to serve!  They worked hard, yet made time to visit with the home owners when they visited the worksites and had fun with their team of volunteers!   MDS volunteers are encouraged to not only work on repairing and rebuilding, but  to touch lives and help people regain their faith.  I saw that in action time and again last week.  It was also great fun when homeowners like Mr. Bean brought fresh oysters to share and Gail Boudreaux shared local dishes like Boudan.  She even sent me home with a jar of “Tony’s cajun seasonings” -a staple there.

My respect for Mennonite Disaster Service and the work they do has only grown with my visit to Louisiana.  Just have a conversation with locals in these small communities.  Talk  to people waiting for homes, people who have moved into new MDS homes, people whose homes have been repaired and neighbors who have witnessed the work of MDS.  Several comments  were heard time and again-“MDS LISTENS”  “they RESPECT THE INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY”, “they HAVE BEEN HERE FOR THE LONG HAUL”, “they are GOD’S PEOPLE”.

I was proud to wear my MDS nametag and found it a great conversation starter to find out where the people were at with their faith & hope-especially those hit by both Rita and Ike-2 major storms just three years apart.  Imagine just getting your life back to together, only to have everything literally torn-apart by another strong storm.

One highlight that was especially close to my heart was meeting MDS homeowners Mitch and Carolyn from Cameron Parish.

If you have a chance visit wjtl.com and listen to my interview with this special couple.  Even Mr. Bob who will move into his new home this week said, “if ever a couple deserved a new house it’s Mitch and Carolyn”.  I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house as they spoke their story into my microphone.  You’ll find their story at wjtl.com under Listen under wjtl.casts or see the link above. 

For more information on how you can do short-term or long-term volunteer work with MDS or financially support the work they do visit mds.mennonite.net.

  1. JS
    March 18th, 2009 at 10:09 | #1

    Boudin, not boudan… 😉

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