Hello! As I continue on my travels, we've made our way to Jackson, Mississippi. Tomorrow morning, we'll make a trip to the Gulf Coast with Bishop Ward and others. It's going to be unlike anything I've seen so far. New Orleans has a sad, sad situation (which I hope I have time and energy to address on the blog in a few days). I understand, however, that Mississippi looks like a battle zone.
Today we went into the New Orleans area. Of course, we didn't get into the worst parts, but we did get to talk with people who refuse to leave. And we talked to people who want to leave but don't know how to get to any of the places to get evacuated. One Red Cross person suggested they just walk north. Eventually the cops will stop them and get them out of the city. But to where? Barbara, one woman I met, said life was so hard before the storm. They already had no money, no car, no anything. She was so scared, too. People were already breaking into apartments in her complex and stealing possessions. So now she, her husband Michael and her mother-in-law Faye eat whatever the Red Cross brings (Potato chips, peanut butter crackers, meal packes, Caprisuns, Fruit 2 O) and just pray that God will help them get out. I wished we had room in our van to move their family today.
One word stayed with me all day: counseling. One volunteer, former Air Force special ops, escorted us into the city. He told his stories of disaster relief work so far. He cried every few sentences. He was dark, large sunglasses when he's leading his team and speaking to his clients so that they don't see him cry. This tough, rough Air Force man (whom I believe should never feel pressure to hold back tears . . . but that's another entry) has seen horrible conditions and experienced the loss of another volunteer's life day-after-day, for at least 12 hours each day. He is a Red Cross volunteer who will need counseling for years to come. And then we have the displaced people, the people still in the city, the pastors who will work with them, the pastors who will be affected . . .
We, the church, have work to do!
Oh, I can't even write about all of it right now. I shouldn't have started.