Paula Sallas a member at Trinity UMC in Phoenix recently had the opportunity to be a part of a Mission Team in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Below is a story of her experience. Thank you Paula and the whole team for the great work you helping and supporting those devastated by the flooding.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7
There were seventeen members on our mission team; eleven of us from Arizona, five more from California, and one from Las Vegas. We drove to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to offer assistance to some of those in need. We worked for five days on homes that have been selected for “clean up” after experiencing unexpected flooding. We stayed at St. Andrew’s UMC. Additional, we worked with the Cajun Army all of whom are volunteers. They provided us daily with amazing lunches.
After picking up our supplies and equipment at the Cajun Army’s warehouse, we drove through the beautiful but devastated country to our first home. There we met a young man with his partner and two toddler girls. The young man told us that the home belonged to his grandfather, and he and his brother wanted to repair it. Since the house was elevated on steel girders, the damage was below the house in a small work area. We removed drywall and insulation, leaving the framing intact. The couple thanked us for our help. They are now in a better position to begin the rebuilding process.
Our team moved on to the next home. This large two-story home was owned by a gentleman with severe health issues and his wife. The place was packed with many items the wife hoped to sell online. Older cars needing repair, from the man’s prior car repair service, were visible. We spent a day and one-half helping these people. When we returned the second day the wife told a team member that this was the first time she and her husband even discussed the flood and the devastation it caused. We emptied a large quantity of materials from this home placing items on pallets and discarding whatever they requested. Once the damaged items were disposed of, we had to remove moldy drywall and insulation. Team members conversed with the gentleman about his life, aspirations, and hopes for the future. Our day and a half at this home gave this couple hope for rebuilding their future. They expressed much gratitude for our help. I believe the team felt an enormous amount of hope and appreciation for the work we accomplished.
The next day brought us a very different experience. This home, in a subdivision, was owned by an elderly gentleman living alone. He was dealing with cancer and diabetes. The amount of work here was much less than the prior homes. Again, we were dealing with moldy drywall and insulation that needed to be removed. When we finished, the owner expressed gratefulness for the work we accomplished.
Our next two days were spent at a large home on sprawling land. The lady lived there alone and had been forced to live on the second floor during the flooding. Her daughter and son-in-law had driven as far as they could and then used a boat to travel the remaining distance to her home. Although the flooding was stated as being approximately 31-32 inches, the water level at her home had torn the garage door off. Work had already been done to her home; the furniture was removed. Another woman and I emptied the remaining contents in the kitchen and removed cabinets. After this was completed, I helped with pulling out an enormous amount of moldy drywall and insulation. The owners story was one of great sadness. Three years before, her husband died. One year ago her daughter had died with an aneurysm leaving behind a five-year-old son. His father was caring for him, and they were both spending time with her. Another member of our team spent a lot of time with her. They shared a common birthday. She was able to provide encouragement and hope for her future.
This experience of working with others and helping with flood clean-up was very emotional for me. The first day, after seeing the amount of damage done at the house, brought me to tears. I do not know how I would deal with such a personal tragedy. I am grateful for the experience of helping others and working with a great group of people.
Everyone worked so well together and so much was accomplished. I believe we were greatly appreciated, and helping others is a reward in itself.