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Showing posts from May, 2011

Last Day.... Mosaic, flight home, except our luggage...

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Mosaic
After our night at Antioch, we left right after breakfast to attend Mosaic.

When we arrived, we saw best bud Brad (in his "Newsies" outfit--sorry Brad, but we gotta call it as we see it...)

Although half of us had only been here once, the week before, it seemed almost like home. Matt, who had worked with us the day before on the job site, showed up as well. He had recently moved to the area, and was looking for a church and we invited him to join us at Mosaic. He was very moved because the first worship song we sang was his favorite, he felt it was a sign from God. Very cool for God to move through the music that way. It was funny that as we were walking away, we heard Brad saying to Dustin, the Sr. Pastor, "No, it was the asian guys that invited him.." and laughing.

Gary and Peter toured the extensive Childrens' ministries area, which is partially within the Skating Rink building that Mosaic uses, and partially rented space in a gym two doors down. Th…

Reflection by Craig-Even in the small things...

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Craig, team leader, reflects on our return...

It was a glorious trip that ended on a somewhat less than desirable note.  Upon returning to LAX, we discovered that our luggage failed to make the flight.  That's sixteen lost suitcases and bags containing dirty laundry, work boots, tool belts, Stiletto hammers, and dry rub from The Shed BBQ.  Yet, to a man, this became so insignificant compared to the blessings received from God during our time in Mississippi.  This is only a "minor inconvenience," a "small bump in the road," or "don't want to let the enemy distract us in any way from what the Lord has achieve to and through us in Mississippi" were some of the responses to the situation.  Commendable, indeed.  But why did it happen?  1 Corinthians 2:11 says: "For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."  Was the Lord somehow using this for h…

Last Day, we're back, and there's more..

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Thanks, we're back and hit the floor running..

We have some notes coming, but we're jumping back into playing catch up from over two weeks of not working...

Hopefully we'll be editing down the bucam videos too..

In the meantime..


Click here for pictures

Katrina 2011 05 21



Last Day on site, Antioch, and debrief

New Life Goodbye
What a way to wrap up the week(s)

We had a bittersweet goodbye with Ken, from New Life Christian. We joked, praised and prayed, but soon had to be off for our last work day.

We left our accommodations and home for the last couple weeks, and hit the road for Pascagoula.

Our long goodbye prevented us from having breakfast before we left, so each of the five cars stopped by and picked up something for breakfast along the way. One car went to Hardees. We went just because we'd never been before, totally expecting it to be Carl's Jr. with a different name. We were wrong. But now Peter really likes the Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits there.

Work Site
Once we hit the work site, we met a partner family, Tish and her family (brother "J", Aunt Annie, Mom Gloria and Cousin Leslie) and a few more volunteers.

Emily and Phillip, both in the Air Force's meteorology division, were taking a class locally and wanted to contribute some volunteer hours to Habitat. They wo…

2011 One More Work Day

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It's coming to a close. It's surprising. As a member of the 2-Week (yes, we know, 14-day....) team, we arrived with the CoEd, had one day of solitude, and one more week with the Men's 1-Week team.

During that time, it was fun, moving, task-oriented, familiar and new.

At the half-way point, while we were saying goodbye to one team, and awaiting another, yes, the thought of "what did I sign up for?" entered a few of our heads. Working on the house for 2-weeks had a physical cost, but being away from home and work for twice as long was hard. But today, as we were working, it was hard to believe that we would only be seeing this home and our friends for one day more.

Pretty much, all the siding has been done, save the front of the blue house.
More surprising is the amount of drywall put in at the green house. They really moved fast. It's getting there, and we'll see what tomorrow holds.

One of our teams was working on this really quite pretty design element, …

Day 10-More and more

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For those of you who care about the technical stuff (i.e. the CoEd team that can more clearly visualize what we're up to..)
There were four teams today.

a) Green Front Porch crew: Mo, Tom, Ron working with Denise
b) Green house drywall: Jeff L, James, Craig, Richard, Kelly
c) Blue House siding: Gary, Chris, Tommy, Roy, Ken, Peter, Steve
d) Ninja caulking crew: Jeff H, Bu, Glenn

We're guys. We're trying to be relational, but man, do we like to work.

But as diligently as we worked, we tried to interact. There was a lot of fun, a lot of interaction, and the vets kept trying to make sure the newbies were comfortable, because they sure seemed capable.
The weather is slowly returning to "normal," which means, hot and humid, but the guys seem to be managing it well. Fortunately, half of our team is working indoors or under an overhang, with the other half working under the shade of a tree for the morning hours, or caulking the siding, which is pretty exposed.

Ah, the caul…

Day 9 - Newbies getting the rhythm

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It's day 2 on the work site with this team. You get to have just a glimmer of what it must be like to see teams come and go. Brad, Denise et al are greeting and acclamating to the new crew, and you realize just how good they are at it, much less adapting work assignments for unknown crews. You get a little more understanding of how much an individual does contribute to the whole, and how much the ones keeping each house moving really are Brad and the rest of the Habitat staff.

Brad really does view this as a war against poverty and unaffordable housing. He's a smart, idealistic and charming guy, and I'm sure he's said those words many times before, but it's also quite apparent that he has meant them before, and means them today. And he invites you into the battle with him. It's sad that as Brad makes an inspiring, fresh speech, I've grown a little too familiar with him and take him for granted, wanting to get to work. Then I realize that I have to apprecia…

Day 8-First day of work for 1 Week team.

Sorry guys.. we're really sleepy.
Perhaps it was the first day on the job.

Here's a thumbnail of the day..

Jeff L did the devotional today on letting his reflection be a better representation of who he is on the inside (letting Christ move in us and be more of our identity)Jeff L's car wouldn't start. Please ask for the details, you might get different answersJeff's replacement car is a minivan, so we're driving one less car now.Brad welcomed us, putting the 2-weekers among the new guys to have them run different sectionsA few of us worked with drywall for the first time.Hillary, a volunteer, brought us some white and dark choco chip cookies. Some of us had a few too many of them, they were excellent.Apparently the 1-week guys bring more munchies than the CoEd team. The 2-Weekers felt they hit the ground running, where the 1-Weekers were still in a haze from the red eye flightHad a brief catch-up meetingCelebrated Uncle Roy's Birthday, less out of actual dat…

Note from Esther: God is Love (spending a day with Britney)

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On Saturday, we got the privilege to work with Britney. Esther, on her first Biloxi trip, was one of the people working with her the closest. She wanted to share some of her thoughts...


God is Love.

Today is Saturday, our last working day at the job site. It was a bittersweet day as the trip is coming to an end. I thought it was only going to be both our teams working at the site today, but when we arrived, another lady joined us. Her name was Brittney and her family lost their house from the Katrina Hurricane.
I was very excited we got to work with her today! She has a 1 year old daughter name Ayanna, meaning “beautiful flower.” She currently lives with her parents, with her weekdays filled, working as a Pharmacy Tech and going to school. Best of all, she is a believer! She even invited us to go to her church tomorrow! Awesome!
Today, she completed her first 8 volunteer hours! She needs to complete a total of 100 hours and also take around 12 classes that will assist her with this pro…

Day 7 - Arrival of 1-Week men's team, and work at New Life Disaster Relief/Biloxi Christian Church

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The men's one-week team arrived safely. We did a similar tour that we had with the CoEd team. Conner's Garden, where we left a card for Kathy, the woman we spoke with last year; Biloxi Lighthouse and Pier, Katrina memorial, CoEd team's site of last year; lunch at Cafe New Orleans, then back to our temporary home. The 1-Weekers then went to the Habitat office for orientation, and the 2-Weekers went to work.

The Pier, a place where many fish.
While at the pier, we had the opportunity to meet a couple of folks, Sean (sp?), who is suffering from a serious condition, as well as his friend Tony, who followed the fishing industry to Mississippi, but had his home was flooded by Katrina. We have to remember that even though his home wasn't entirely submerged, the damage was devastating. We were able to pray for them respectively. On the way off the pier, Gary M spoke with Dave, who was smiling ear to ear. Dave explained that he was a Christian, and was strongly encouraged by ou…

2011 CoEd - The flight home, a new friend.

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Divine Appointment
Flying from Gulf Port to Houston the CoEd team made a new friend on the plane. Here's Carl's notes:
Lisa is a remarkable individual and she inspired me. Our plane ride back to Houston was a divine appointment … not a coincidence, as some would think! Lisa grew up in Sacramento where her parents live today. She finished her education and found a job and purchased a condo in the San Francisco area. However, she felt that God was asking her to sell her condo so that she can be mobile and able to move wherever God called her to go. Lisa is currently working to help administrate at a non-profit missionary organization to help out against trafficking children from Nepal.  So here’s where our encounter begins … the monies from selling her condo assisted her to take numerous trips to New Orleans/Biloxi area. She has worked with Habitat for many years and built homes from laying the foundation to completing interior work on homes. 
Lisa was flying home from a conference …

CoEd team returning, 2nd Men's week flying out...

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We're assuming that the 2nd Week men's team are prepping at the airport soon, and the plan is for them to greet the CoEd when they arrive in a couple hours.
The 2-Week men's team pretty much have the whole church/center to ourselves, and since we've been eating so much fried food, we resigned ourselves to eating a salad for tonight :)

Steve O just walked in from his evening run. If he hadn't returned by 830p local time, we were supposed to send out bloodhounds.

In the meantime, here are some pictures from today, and
Katrina 2011 05 15

Our visit to Mosaic, Gulf Coast



 another video from our dynamic duo of Carl and Esther (from Day 1)

Gary M's note... about noticing..

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I have noticed this year that spending this much time with the various team members has had an impact on me.  I am starting to pick up behaviors and characteristics from the other people as we rub off on each other.  This is the way God meant it to be.  Here is how they have each given me something to imitate.

Roy - quiet plodding along with humility and not for show.
Kelly - polite and always thinking of serving others
Esther - joyful and "thumbs up"
GaryH - wanting to learn and experience new things
Peter - being bold in engaging people
Carl - willingness to do whatever is needed
Bu - never complaining even though he wants to
Bart - searching the Scriptures for the truth
Chris - admonishing others very gently
Steve - never questioning God's ability
Lorin - appreciating even the smallest things
Tommy - speaking positively about other people
Mo - thinking before jumping in and doing
Kyle - having a passion for people and wanting Christ to impact their lives

Beloved, do not imitate evil…

Note from Lorin: "God Instances"

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God definitely has a plan.   I came to Biloxi expecting-but not knowing what to expect.  This week, God showed me in many ways that He has all the details worked out. 
First, I met Chris M. from Chicago and had a chance to work with her on Wednesday and got to know her.  We both enjoyed each other's company and as Chris M. was joining the team for dinner on Thurs. someone rearranged the seat "assignments" in the cars so that Chris and I could ride to The Shed together.

Next, Bu noticed that we'd made a "connection," so he volunteered to trade job assignments with me for Friday so that Chris and I could work together again.  (Thanks Bu, sorry your sacrifice meant that  you had to clean up rat poop.  You were a blessing to your "honorary mom.")
Chris spent the day cutting and hauling siding with me and we had a great time.   We would not have had a chance to bond if:
we'd both chosen not to come work with Habitatwe'd both chosen different w…

LAX on, LAX off

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We just sent the CoEd team off, on their way back to LAX. They got off safely after a morning visiting Mosaic. It was a great church, and Dustin, the pastor, preached a good message from Colossians about being focused on God first, then marriage, then children and then work next. Sounds familiar....

The church meets in a roller skating rink, and is used almost all week long. Afterwards, had good time hanging with Brad and Paul at a local seafood restaurant. Once again, food was good, but sharing faith and life with them was better.

As we sent off the CoEd team, they knew they had done a good thing, with a week's worth of hard work behind them, and shared memories among them. We pray they have a safe and meaningful trip home. Just as Kyle had spoken a few nights ago, the mission began before they ever left L.A., and will hopefully not end.





It's odd to think that even as they fly, our church is just ending service back home, and the next Men's team will be flying out a few…

Dear support groups...

As we post pictures of Gary's "One Drop," we can't but help to think of our support groups. Time after time, we meet individuals that come out here on their own, or often church groups that come out here as part of a service mission. Either way, it's rare that we find folks that have the same level of support that we do from home. It's not bragging about how wonderful our supporters are, it's just being humbly appreciative of those that send us and partner with us.

We do believe the ease of our experiences and the extra-opportunities we have to bless and be blessed by others are largely because of the prayer support we receive from home. Every person out here has a group of several people to pray for them, for their safe travels, for their family and jobs they are separated from, and their spiritual health. But most of all, we feel this covering allows us to have faith beyond our own. We are able to see spiritual opportunities beyond our own eyes, and to …

Last day on the site...

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Saturday was our last day on the site. Also our last day working as a combined team.
Bittersweet, but quite rewarding.

Steve, Mo, Tommy and Chris went to another site for half the day and worked on baseboards . Chris was excited because it was something he could use back at home. They met Dave, a supply sargeant in the Navy, who volunteers with Habitat on the weekend. Eventually, he might be stationed in San Diego, so who knows, we might see him back at home.

Dave joined us for lunch, which we bought from Bozo's and took back to the site. We had lunch all together, including Brittney. Brittney was doing her first day of volunteer hours and had never worked with tools before. Although she expressed a bit of apprehension at first, within a couple of hours, she was confident and capable. She's raising a beautiful 1 year old daughter, who we met later in the day, and we enjoyed her company.

After finishing our work, we got to pray for the homes and area. Some of us wrote on the …

Gary H's note from the second night

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After arriving to Biloxi in the morning of 5/9 we took a drive in the Mississippi gulf coast to see the devastation aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  It was an eye opening experience to see so much damage that Hurricane Karina inflicted on so many people's lives and so much property damage.

We made a stop at a pier and at the end of the pier we approached a guy named Brian who happened to be fishing.  I sensed from God that he wanted me to talk to him. Although I do not really know a lot about fishing I struck up conversation about fishing.  Then the conversation became more personal about his work and his life.  Although we didn't "officially asked if he has accepted Jesus", we told him why we were here in Mississippi.  Our feeling was that when we had to leave, we planted the seed.  My hope and prayer is that we planted the seed and that somebody that he will encounter later would reap the benefit of him someday receiving Christ.  I emailed my MSG to pray for him. …

Katrina 2011 Reflections..

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During this trip, one of our members wanted to share their feelings, but has chosen to do so anonymously.

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God." I John 4:7 This mission trip has been such a blessing in seeing the love of Jesus Christ lived out through our team members. There have been many “God moments” on this trip where God was doing great things through our team members that we all marveled at and praised God for. It is so encouraging to see so many team members being intentional in stepping out of their comfort zone to meet and bless others.  The Holy Spirit is doing a great work through the men and women of this trip. In addition to being outstanding servants on the job site they have been sharing personal testimonies with people, ministering to people, encouraging Habitat supervisors, building relationships with other volunteer co-laborers, and being great servants on the job site.      The first day w…

Katrina Day 4-Separate sites, one storm

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Today was the second day that the teams were split over two separate sites. The CoEd team went to work on the trailers, the 2-Week Men's team returned to the Pascagoula site to work with Brad.
As mentioned before, it was nice to be able to help in the recovery from the tornadoes as the FEMA/MEMA trailers will be moved up north, such as Smithville. We were told that although utility companies were in that area to reconnect homes to power, there were many homes no longer there to reconnect. Sad.

Bu's Sacrifice
On the way to last night's dinner at The Shed, Tommy's car picked up Brad and Chris M (whom we affectionately call "Chris Girl" to distinguish her from the male Chris on our team), rode with Kelly's car. Chris and Lorin really hit it off, and became even better friends.

When we arrived back home that evening, Bu asked if he could switch teams the next day (today), so that Chris and Lorin could spend the day together. It was touching. Bu's a good …

Katrina Day 3-The Shed

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The Shed

An annual tradition, we took the team and some of our new friends to The Shed, a local BBQ place. We weren't aware that a live rock band would be performing in the patio area where we usually sit.

Scrambling to find a more quiet place to eat and talk, we finally ended up in not-so-much-quieter patio, although it did afford us privacy.

Our Guests

Joining us where Chris M, a fellow volunteer from Chicago, Brad our site supervisor, and Paul, our supervisor from last year, now working outside of Habitat.

The meal was good as usual, but the fellowship was sweet. In Christian circles, you'll often hear that phrase, "the fellowship was sweet," but it really was. It was beyond exchanging laughs, stories, jokes and enjoying the company of good friends... We spoke about our lives, meaningful things, and how God has been present in our lives to bring us to this place in time. The mutual sharing was humbling and encouraging at the same time, all being (almost) shouted a…

Bu Breakfast Day 2

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Bu's Breakfast notes..

And we're back!

Sorry, but yesterday, blogspot had a glitch and we were unable to post anything to the blog.

Today was the second day of us being split up into two groups, the CoEd going to the trailers today, and the Men's 2Week team going back to the site (the previous day we had switched roles)

It rained in a pretty brief, sudden and cold windy storm, and then within an hour, it passed. Some of our crew was down at the beach to see the water turn rough and the oceans tremble. It was an eerie reminder of Katrina.

There's more to say and talk about, but we're about to head to dinner. More later, and more about a great dinner at The Shed (last night). And it wasn't just because the food was good. It was just a great time of fellowship

Some notes from Gary H

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Gary H a first timer, is serving on the CoEd team.

"There was a gentleman named Rick who started working at the kitchen recently where we are staying.

During the time we were making small talk he asked me why I was here in Mississippi.  I gave him my answer that  I wanted to help and love the people of Mississippi and that I wanted to reveal God's glory through words and deeds.  He said that was fine but it wasn't the answer he was looking for.  He told me that the answer was that,"God has chosen you".  He has chosen you to come to Mississippi to help the people.   By choosing you it should be an honor and a special privilege to come and that I am totally blessed to be chosen.  After he told me I was totally blown away that I have that honor and privilege to serve God.  I thank God that he has brought a guy like Rick to remind me what an honor and privilege that I am given to serve God."

"In my next conversation with Rick who was working as the cook a…

Day 3-Splitting the teams

Today, the CoEd Team will be returning to the Pascagoula site to continue work, possibly with St. James.
The 2-week team will be going to clean up some FEMA trailers for repurposing. We'll be going just north of (what used to be) Lookout 49 (closed restaurant that we went to year 1), at 16041 Hwy 49, Gulfport, MS 39503. We're not sure what to expect.

Day 2-Working with St. James

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If anyone ever ever ever gives me (Peter) a hard time for going to Walmart again... I will remind them of this day.

I actually needed to go to Walmart for ... something... and was going to have Tommy drive me. But it turned out they needed two cars because there were over five people going. When everyone gathered to get in the cars. There were over nine people, so I declined, but over nine people? We only have fifteen on the team.. :)

St James
St James is a church from Pennsylvania, that we've met before while serving here. Today we had the privilege of working side by side with them on site. Our siding and paint crew got to work with them closely. Cindy was a crowd favorite, as she, normally a hair stylist, proved to be one of the most energetic and height-friendly volunteers, climbing to the top levels with Kyle, Bart and Chris.

Roy was working John and Mike, Gary H was being apprenticed by master chop man Gary M.

It was a good, and productive day. It's nice to see a house t…

First Day on the job

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It was a great feeling today to see old friends.
No, not the heat or the humidity, but Brad and Denise, our two site supervisors.

We arrived at our site, which is located at 2202 Choctaw Ave, Pascagoula, MS 39567. If you look at google maps, you can see what the site once looked like... a lot.. not "a lot" as in plenty, but simply, a lot of land.

Okay, so much to say, so little brain power.

1) We're happy to be back
2) Our newbies are excellent!
3) Brad and Denise are like coming home to family, we even spoke about our other family members (Spikes, Paul, et al) that weren't present, to catch up, just as you would do at a reunion.
4) rumor on the street is that Brad might enter our video, "All Work, All Pray" in as a volunteer video in some competition...
5) here's the rest...
(I type this, with Gary M by my side, editing video, while the rest of the gang has showered and gone off to have some frozen custard.. sniff.. Okay, truth be known, the guys are…

Katrina Day 0

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With the covering and well wishes of many of our friends and family. the Coed and 2-Week men's team flew from LAX on the evening of Mother's day. Pastor Victor and Team Leader Craig sent us off with a time of prayer, then our individual support groups prayed for each team member.
Thus begins the journey for the first leg of our trip. We arrived safely early monday morning, Tommy took the lead by wearing shorts. A few of us forgot how warm and humid it can be in this part of the state. We took some time at the new foot pier in front of the Biloxi Lighthouse, met some new friends, who told us that the weather had varied between 40 and the current 80 degrees in recent days. After touring the area including several of our previous builds, lunch at Cafe new Orleans, orientation at the new Habitat offices, we arrived at our new home, New Life Disaster Relief Camp. The facilities are smaller, reminiscent of the camp at Yankie Stadium, and have a much more family-run feeling. Than…

Before we go, something Lorin wanted to share...

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Lorin will be 50% of the female contribution of our CoEd team. She's coming on the trip for a the first time, and wanted to share some of her thoughts..
Just a word of praise.  I remember during one of our meetings that someone said that we should be sharing with others about our upcoming missions trip.  Well, it's easier to do with friends, but I had an opportunity to bring up the upcoming Habitat trip to Biloxi while visiting with my doctor.   A few weeks ago, I dropped a container of frozen food on my foot and after the bruising went away I noticed that there was still a small lima bean sized bump on top of my foot that was causing pain.  I put off going to the doctor as I didn't want to hear any bad news that might prevent me from going, but after a while I figured I was in denial and needed to find out before we left, whether or not the bump could affect my health.  (Being diabetic, I need to be careful about foot injuries.) Anyways, it turns out that it's a gang…