Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bama: Round Two.

Have you ever had expectations that you did not realize you held? I've been learning a lesson in flexibility this past week. Part one of lesson: making a surprise 6 hour drive to Madison, Alabama. Again :) But praise God for having a purpose for everything! I love that there are no coincidences!

As it turns out, I happened to be sent to Alabama the same week a friend from high school was there. It was such a great blessing to catch up and hang out with him and introduce him to my new friends!

So Wednesday morning, three of us made the drive to Bama. We went for a specific roofing job but as soon as we got there, the homeowner told us that someone else was going to work on his roof and provide the materials for him.

We ended up chainsawing trees and cleaning up debris out of a wheat field. Billy was the owner of the farm we worked on. During the tornadoes, the house belonging to Billy's brother was lifted up and it landed in Billy's wheat field. Needless to say there was a lot to clean up.

And lots of chances to drive big tractors! Right up my alley :)

We came back on Saturday and spent the rest of the weekend relaxing. It was definitely needed! I've been working on what my role looks like in the ministry this summer and also if I come back in the fall. I'm really excited about what God's doing in my life and in this ministry! I feel so blessed to be here and thank you all so much for supporting me in every way.

Prayer Requests:
  • Application process (Explore 7-23) for a longer term
  • A vehicle to drive down to New Orleans in the fall
  • That God will continue to work this summer in New Orleans and also in my life
  • That God will provide the funds to live here this year
  • Safety in Alabama
  • The amazing people I'm surrounded by - both on staff and on teams!
  • That I'm back "home" in Louisiana 
"Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:38

Love  you all!
Chelsea :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hope in Bama

On April 27, 2011 several devastating tornadoes hit the state of Alabama. EFCA Crisis Response set up a connection through Hope Church in Madison, Alabama where teams can come to help the clean up process. I read a verse this week during devotions that really spoke to me: Psalm 29:9 "The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, 'Glory!'" Isn't our God amazing?! I saw evidence of God's voice during my time in Bama. This week, the interns and some of the staff from the Crisis Response office in New Orleans came and served there. I was able to be a part of the amazing work that Hope Church is doing in Madison with the help of the lead pastor, Andy Wulff, and my fellow part-time roommate and co-worker, Jen Jones :)

It was really fun to be part of a team this week and volunteer! I personally met 3 different sets of homeowners. Ronnie and I were with Shelby and Jeremy our first day when we worked with John and Marlene, a couple originally from New Jersey. They were so sweet and Marlene was very hospitable. Marlene had a bout with cancer and it's believed it may be back in her head because of headaches and trouble with sight. Please pray for her and that the cancer won't come back.

Most of the week was spent with Billy and Pat, an older couple who invited us (a dirty, sweaty, smelly team of young people!) into their home and fed us every day. They told me I reminded them of their granddaughter (Their 13 year old, 6 foot tall granddaughter. Not sure how) so I'm excited to keep in touch with them via e-mail! We aren't sure where they are, spiritually, but they seemed interested in Hope Church :)

The third man we helped, Tom, told us his story about how his family lived without power for 8 days. United Way told him they would come clean up his leaning trees last week, but never showed up. Dustin, Jen and I took down two trees ourselves and dragged three out. There was a close call, but it turns out I can outrun a tree :)

The team that was in Alabama this week was from Hershey Free Church so I had an awesome time getting to know fellow Pennsylvanians :) They were a great group of guys and our team loved hanging out with them! We even went bowling last night :) We were also able to serve Pastor Andy and his wife by babysitting their 5 kids. We had a great time with them but half of us were sleeping on couches by the end of the night!

Summary? I used a chainsaw for the first time this week, met some great people and had a near death experience but yay God! I'm here :) Also, praise God we're all back in Louisiana safe and sound and that everyone was kept safe this week using chainsaws and skid loaders. Please pray that my application for Explore 7-23 will go well and I'll finish it in a timely manner. Also, please pray that I will be able to find monthly supporters for this fall. The support I raised for this summer was enough for 2 and a half months, but I will need support to come in monthly as I serve for a longer term.

Thank you so much for all the support and letters and prayers! Also, if you'd like to find out how you can help with the clean up that is going on in Alabama go to EFCA's tornado relief page. Thank you all again!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Hey ya'll!

Good news! All of the interns are officially here! Ronnie and Dustin are construction site leaders, Keri is involved in relational ministries and I'm doing my thing with communications :) And I'm absolutely loving my time with them! They're already like family to me and I'm excited for all the great times we're going to have!

This week was awesome! We had a great youth group from Arlington, Texas come and serve Cammie Carroll, Ruby Augustine and the town of Bush. Bush is on the North Shore, about 25 minutes from where I live. That area was seriously affected by the recent tornadoes that hit southern Louisiana, so a team from Trinity went along with the kids from Arlington. The team from Arlington had this rule about "cuss words". Every time someone said something bad, they owed 5 pushups. Unfortunately for me, "cuss words" included totally normal words like "hate" or "dang it". So if I said "Ugh, Wal-Mart, I hate you!" (which I say daily. Like every time we drive past it), I would have to do 5 pushups. Apparently, I have a really dirty mouth!! Those pushups really added up!

On Wednesday, all the interns and some other staff went crabbing and it was so much fun! Eating them is a lot more work than catching them though. In other news, this Monday all the interns and Katie are piling into a car and driving to Madison, Alabama to work with Crisis Response there. It's really cool because the team that's coming down to Alabama that week is from Hershey, Pa! :)

God's really been teaching me a lot and I've only been down here for 3 weeks. I believe that I'm supposed to be here longer than just this summer. I'm about to start the process of filling out the 'Explore' application, which covers 7-23 months of ministry. My plan is still to come home in the beginning of August and continue to raise support to come back down, hopefully by September.

Prayer Requests:

1) Safety in traveling to Alabama
2) Continuing to raise financial support for this fall

Thank you all for your continued prayer and support!

Chelsea :)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pray the Lord of the harvest...

Good evening! Hopefully all of my Pennsylvania people are not up as late as me :)

We finally moved into our new house! We're loving it and it's definitely a blessing :) This weekend Katie, Ronnie, Jen and I walked around the French Quarter and ate amazing food! We walked a block of Bourbon Street and that was more than enough for me. That would be the last time I go there. Yikes.

This week I got a real picture of what New Orleans is like 6 years after Hurricane Katrina. I was privileged with the opportunity to go to job site assessments with Katie and some of the construction staff. Job site assessments are made in order to meet the homeowner, survey the damage that needs to be fixed and give them estimates on what the materials will cost. With Crisis Response, we provide the labor and the homeowner provides the materials. My job was to take pictures and listen to the homeowner's stories. What I heard was incredible.

I met Ms. Corin, who has been ripped off by contractors and has had thieves break into her home and steal her plumbing, wiring and A/C unit. As Katie and I walked through the house Ms. Corin showed us the traps she's made to keep out intruders. She has done everything she can to fix up her home by herself but she has reached a point where she needs outside help. She lives in her room upstairs and has almost all of her belongings in one bedroom where she sleeps on a mattress on the floor. Ms. Corin was so kind and so grateful. She is so excited for her house to be rebuilt and she wants her home to be in one piece again.

I also met James who has been doing his best to provide a nice home for his grandmother and his two darling nieces, Emmanuela and Esther Ruth. He repaired and restored the inside but he can't tackle the huge job of the exterior. The entire two story house needs painted. And it's a big house. I was able to play and hang out with the two little girls who were just so cute and outgoing! Emmanuela is going into 5th grade and she plays the sax. In fact, she's going to band camp this week. Esther Ruth was a sassy little thing who jumped rope with me. They were just so adorable and I enjoyed talking to them!

It is so hard to see these homeowners in their destroyed homes. They've waited so long for someone to come along side them and help them. Some people say that the people of New Orleans have no motivation and if they really wanted their houses fixed, they would do it themselves. The truth is, they look at their houses and yards that are filled with trash, debris, water damage and mold, and they see a job so big that there is no way one person can handle it. The hardest part of our job was telling the homeowners that they have to wait even longer to see their houses rebuilt. Crisis Response simply does not have the amount of volunteers and staff it needs to keep up with multiple job sites at once. After 6 years, the volunteer response has slowed down considerably. When the rest of the country has moved on and assumed that all is well with New Orleans, there are still 50,000 homes that need to be rebuilt. 50,000 people that need to be loved.

Please pray for more volunteers and long term staff for TouchGlobal Crisis Response.

"Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:38

Chelsea :)