Mother of the Bride Spot

Random thoughts on being a Mother of the Bride...although since we are now past The Wedding, perhaps this would be better titled Random Thoughts On Life In General...

Friday, September 09, 2005

More from Rob in Mississippi

As I sit here at my computer, I can watch the children going to our local elementary school about three blocks from here. Some are accompanied by their moms and younger siblings, others with friends, a very few are walking alone. The sun is shining -- there's been no measurable rain again for the last nearly 20 days here in the Chicagoland area -- if it weren't for the brown grass, it would be beautiful. Again -- direct contrast to the TV images surrounding New Orleans, Biloxi, Gulfport, and other cities. I heard this morning on the radio that relief giving has topped $500 million, the government has authorized $52 billion, but that restoration will probably exceed $100 billion -- numbers that I find difficult to comprehend!

Some of the stories that have come out of the hurricane ravaged areas have been heartbreaking -- some have been making me furious -- stories of rape and murder, shooting sprees and senseless looting for luxury items. But the wonderful stories coming from there are overshadowing the horrific ones....stories of how God is working in people's lives, and how people are opening their own homes and own lives to our displaced citizens are heartwarming.

Last night we got another update from Rob in Brookhaven, Mississippi:

"Dear Ones,

Thank you, thank you for your prayers, emails, encouragement, and financial support of this amazing mission work that the Lord has placed in our laps. Our days are full as we care for the many needs of our guests, for that is how we feel toward them as we now approach day 12 or is it day 13?! And then there are the ongoing needs of a congregation. The members and friends from other churches have been amazing as they have given so joyfully and unselfishly to this ministry.

My mind is in such a whirl that I hardly know where to begin. Some of the ones here with us have made day trips south to New Orleans and surrounding areas to see about the damage from the hurricane and the flooding. Some have suffered minor damage, some have suffered moderate damage, some have suffered massive damage, and some have suffered a total loss. Part of our ministry in caring for them is listening to them tell their stories, assuring them of our love and concern, and pointing them to Jesus and the need truly to trust in Him and to rely on Him. The Lord is giving us amazing opportunities for ministry and witness. In terms of when they will be able to return to their homes or what is left of their homes, we have no idea at this point. The infrastructure in south Mississippi and south Louisiana is in such disarray that I don't know when living down there will be possible. Therefore, we are trying to assist them in finding long term housing for the coming months if not years. I am in contact with a number of people and churches who have offered to help relocate our rather amazing extended "family" here at Faith. Thus far most of our guests are not able to embrace the idea of relocating. In time they will have to.

We have a sufficient supply of food, clothes, etc. for now and we have a good supply of medicines. Many of us have contracted what one of our doctors has dubbed the "Katrina Virus" a.k.a. a sore throat and a cold!! It's more of a nuisance than anything, but it's interesting how so many of us have come down with it!

Our local Red Cross volunteer, Bo Case, has been a great help to us, but we have not had the best of assistance from the national Red Cross. Maybe one of the drawbacks with providing such good care is that we were placed on the "back burner." We had attempted to make contacts with the national Red Cross and FEMA in order to provide our guests with much needed information. We kept getting nowhere until one of our members, Judge Mike Taylor, got involved. Through his tenacity and his contacts with Congressman Pickering, we in our area have finally received some assistance. The Red Cross came today to provide checks so that the people would have some money to help them with immediate needs. A squad of soldiers from the Indiana National Guard accompanied them to provide security because in some areas people have had their checks stolen! We have had no security problems, but under the circumstances we thought this was a wise provision. The soldiers will bivouac here at the church and pull round the clock guard duty for several days.

We are trying to set up computers here at the church so that people can register with FEMA for assistance. Unfortunately the only way to register is online since calling does absolutely no good. Some of our members are helping them through the rather long and convoluted process. We have been told that the Dell computer company will provide us with two additional computers on Monday.

Our schools are scheduled to resume on Monday and Rosie will be returning to those duties. She has really established some warm relationships with some of our guests, (her patients), and it will not be easy for her to relinquish her ministry here. Thankfully, we have other nurses in the church who will be able to take up the slack.

To give you an idea of the opportunities for ministry I'll share something of my day yesterday. In the providence of God I made contact with the Mahmoud Ismail family through their daughters Willah and Sarah. The Ismails were staying at a local motel and had numerous needs. Mahmoud and his wife Effat were born and reared in Egypt, but they are naturalized US citizens. Their teenage daughters were born in the States. And as you can guess they are not Christians! They were from the New Orleans area where Mahmoud was a cab driver. Their apartment suffered extensive damage and their car had some water related problems. I helped Mamoud get the car repaired, the insurance taken care of...I had to be the "interpreter" for the agent who was on the other end of the line!!! But above all I was able to help Effat with a very serious eye problem. She recently had eye surgery in Egypt but upon her return home was caught up in the hurricane. An ophthalmologist here in town, Dr. Caleb Herndon, saw her and examined her eye. He said that the surgery was excellent, but because of the trauma she had developed some very serious problems. By using some eye charts he showed Mahmoud and her in a very caring and patient way how serious her problem was. Then he arranged for her to go immediately to see the head of eye surgery at the University Medical Center in Jackson.

Muslims have respect for Jesus as a great prophet. So on that basis I was able to talk with Mahmoud how we Christians knew Jesus as the divine Son of God. Under the circumstances he was very cordial to what I had to say, and he was truly overwhelmed that Christians would help him and his wife in their time of need. Before I directed him to interstate 55 to Jackson, he grabbed me and kissed me on the cheek to express his appreciation!! ;o) I asked him if I could have prayer with them before they left and he said yes. So I prayed for them in Jesus name and sent them on their way. Just a little while ago Mahmoud called me from Memphis where he was headed to say that Effat is doing much better and that they had made contact with a church in Memphis. He said that due to the help of Christians there, Effat is scheduled to see an eye specialist on Tuesday. Once again he expressed his amazement at the care shown them by Christians. One sows, another waters, but the Lord gives the increase. This is but one example of the many opportunities the Lord is giving us.

There is much more that I could say, but I have gone too long already. For those of you who have read this far, thank you.

Again thank you so very much for your support and especially your prayers.

In the Grip of God's Amazing Grace,


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