Friday, March 03, 2006

Reflections on a mission trip

Ron Coats with a cash register he found where there once was a "Hurricane Camille Gift Shop" along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

We got back to Georgia last night, and yesterday and today I've had time to reflect on our recent mission trip to Mississippi. I would say it was one of the best mission trips I have been on, ever. Our team cooperated together beautifully; nobody complained (they joked that after last Sunday's sermon on the Israelites "grumbling in the wilderness" there was no way they were going to complain about anything) and everybody worked hard. The people at New Evening Star Baptist Church in Gulfport were very appreciative, and they worked right alongside us. We really got to know them personally by staying in their homes and working side by side with them, and then worshiping with them. Oh, and I have to say they outdid themselves with Southern hospitality, especially the great meals they served us every night. I actually ate catfish three nights in a row!
I was also struck by how much remains to be done. While we were in Mississippi, they were marking the 6-month anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. People in the rest of the country may think it's all over and they are back to normal lives. Well, most of the trees that fell over have been cleared, but so much remains to be done. U.S. Highway 90 is an east-west highway that goes right along the beach through the four towns of Pass Christian, Long Beach, Gulfport, and Biloxi. You can ride for miles along Highway 90 and there are no buildings on the highway. Nothing for miles but slabs where once there were restaurants, beautiful homes, and now there is nothing but occasional signs and lonely traffic lights at intersections with no buildings. Even further inland, many homes still have blue FEMA tarps on their roofs, and frequently one sees neat little trailer and camper parks with row after row of trailers or campers where people are now living because they lost their homes. No, life is not back to normal on the gulf coast, and it will not be for a long, long time.

U.S. Highway 90 on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

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