Pastor Kristin joins a Katrina Outreach
On September 8th I felt such a burden for the people whose lives were devastated by hurricane Katrina that I contacted 2 ministries that I knew were going to help. I had just worked on the phones of a telethon to raise money but felt like I could do so much more if the Lord would let me go. On September 12th I got an e-mail back from Joy Ministries about their outreach. After that email I felt even more urgency so I called them. The next couple days were a blur to me. I was so busy trying to figure out how to get to the people that when Wendy and Duncan Campbell of Joy Ministries said that I could come help them in Arkansas and Louisiana I knew that it was God's plan and I put it totally in His hands. With only 4 days to get a plane ticket and raise money to help I got to work! I sent out invitations to a jewelry sale at my home and the Lord provided funds for the trip. I had one bag packed with clothes for me and another whole suitcase packed with clothing, Bibles, Jewelry, Antibacterial wipes, color books, stickers and more all for the people effected by this storm. It was an amazing feeling to be able to give so much from our very small ministry. The money that was given was taken to Arkansas with me, donated to the Joy ministry to help buy things like bug spray, first aid kits and plastic gloves. Praise God for His provision and for the help of all our friends and family! What a blessing!
On September 18th I took a red eye to NW Arkansas. I did not know exactly what we would be doing to help or who I was going to stay with but I knew I would be able to make a difference with the Lord's help! I arrived in Arkansas after 8am on the 19th. Throughout the night I keep a journal of my prayers to the Lord and about what the Lord was teaching me. I keep this journal throughout the who trip. Wendy and Duncan pick me up at the airport and we went to their house to start preparing for the trip down to New Orleans. The first few days were spent raising funds so that we would be able to take more down to Louisiana with us. I was blessed greatly to be staying with a wonderful family of ministers the Maddox Family. They were so very gracious and hospitable to me. They gave me a nice place to stay while we were still doing the preparation work for going to New Orleans.
Our original plan was to pack up and leave for Louisiana on the 23rd. Then Hurricane Rita happened. That postponed our ministry trip down from Arkansas for a few days. It also made it so that some of the people who were going to come with us weren't able to come. During this time I helped with some office work for Joy Ministries and help with more preparations for the ministry trip. On the 28th I got to sit in a booth at Wal-Mart collecting donations for the people in Louisiana. Well that didn't last long. A thunder storm came and we got soaked! So we decided to take down the tent and try again the next day.
On the 29th Wendy and I sat in front of the Wal-Mart. We weren't getting much response so I decided we needed a little extra pizzazz. I went into the Wal-Mart and purchased some long balloons and began to make balloon animals for any child that passed by. It was a lot of fun and got many people to help us! Thank you Jesus! Later on that night Wendy, Duncan and I packed everything we had gathered into the Car and set off for Louisiana. The first night was spent driving and we arrived in New Orleans on the Morning of the 30th. Driving in New Orleans on I-10 was and eye opener. Trees had branches and leaves torn off, buildings were destroyed and roofs were falling apart. A month after the hurricane there was still a lot of damage that was untouched.
The first place we stopped was a church close to down town New Orleans. The church had an outreach for drug addicted men and the place where they lived was destroyed. The floors were soft and mushy and the plaster board was hanging off he ceiling. It smelled so bad that it made me sick to my stomach. Everything smelled like mold. This church also had a feeding program. When we walked into their church building it smelled like a mix of rotting meat and mold. We went into their sanctuary and there was water damage everywhere and more mold. Wendy and I went outside while Duncan spoke with the deacon of the church because of the smell. We saw some birds and began to feed them some of the south beach crackers we had brought with us for communion. They looked so hungry.
After going to the church we found out that the shelter we were going to stay in had closed down. This presented a challenge but God is great. We tried to find a hotel but all hotels in southern Louisiana are booked until January so we decided to stay in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Boutte, LA. I went into the Wal-Mart to use the restroom and get ready for sleeping. We were so tired from everything we had done during that day and from the drive down during the night. As I walked in the building the entrance was line with employees and army personnel who had very large guns. I immediately felt uncomfortable, out of place, and intimidated. Needless to say I did not stay long in that store. I used the restroom and went back out to the car. I took some time after that to journal because it was still light out and very warm. Tears came from my eyes as I wrote about what I had seen in the store. Where was the freedom for these people? Wiping my eyes I could smell something awful. I realized that it was the same smell we had smelled down town New Orleans earlier that day. My husband had packed me some bath and body works Cucumber Mellon antibacterial wipes so I took one out to try and get the smell off but it was a futile effort. Three wipes later and my hand still smelled. My heart broke with compassion for those who were without any wipes or anything. About 20 minutes after we had arrived the shut the store down and everyone had to leave the area. There was a curfew in effect. I could almost imagine what it would be like to be a homeless person or a person who had lost everything in the storm. As we were driving out of Boutte we saw a cloud in the shape of a dove and I felt peace that the Lord was in control of the situation.
What happened later that night is best described by what I put in my journal the following day.
That morning we went back into New Orleans to find a place to stay and work while we were in the area. On our way back in we took some pictures of places that we saw along side the freeway. There was tremendous damage that we saw to a storage build and a hotel. I put a couple of those pictures above. Since we were not sure where we were going to end up staying we were thankful that we were told of a church that has places for workers to stay while they are ministering in the area the Sunday before at church in Arkansas. It was called Riverside Baptist church. At Riverside Baptist we were blessed to be able to help serve and prepare dinner both nights we stayed at the church. It was a true blessing to be able to work their and hand out meals to over 1000 people a night! One night Wendy and I got to peal and chop a 60 pound bag of onions. Below I have some pictures of us serving dinner and a picture of the Sunday school room in the church that Wendy and I stayed in.
On the second day we began to do more street ministry outreach. We went down street after street giving out the items that we had from food and first aid kits to Bibles and clothing. It was such a blessing to be able to talk with the people and to be able to share what we had. We must have given out over 50 Bibles, five flats of bug spray, and hundreds of pairs of latex cleaning gloves. I had brought a whole suit case full of items donated through Living Rock Ministries with clothing for men and women as well as some silk scarves and jewelry I had made. It was so wonderful to see how such simple items could greatly bless others. It was also a blessing to be able to talk with people and to pray with some of them. One young mother asked for us to pray for her little baby girl. We had stopped and given her food and diapers while she was waiting at a bus stop for her father to pick her and her children up.
The last day in New Orleans started out with prayer in a park along side the Mississippi River and then prayer in the French Quarter claiming New Orleans back for the Lord. For the rest of that day we continued with street ministry giving out what ever we had to give. One thing that impacted me greatly on this day was going down street where the houses were marked that someone had died in that home. It was quite sad to see those markings. We had to switch neighborhoods once because no one had come back yet in one neighborhood we were in. Instead of staying in the church that last night we decided to drive back to Arkansas. As we left town I took some pictures of the sunset. On our way back God provided a miracle! We kept smelling this sulfur smell and didn't know if we had tracked something from New Orleans with us so we went through a car wash. No mater where we went the smell followed. In the middle of the night at a small gas station in the middle of not much we stopped and I asked the gas station attendant what the sulfur smell was. He was kind of offended by my comment telling me that there was no sulfur smell in that area. We decided to check the engine and the battery was overflowing. That was where the smell came from. We decided just to keep going as there was no real place to get a battery in the middle of the night. The next morning we stopped at a Wal-Mart outside of Little Rock. When we were checking in the mechanic tested the battery. He said it show no power at all!!! What a miracle!! We had stopped just a couple minutes earlier and shut off the engine. It shouldn't have started but it did thanks to the Lord!! Praise God!!! The next day I was on a plane home. I was so excited to see Chris and Honey again but I will never forget the experience and the ministry opportunities we had on this ministry trip.
People are still needing help in the areas effected by the hurricanes in 2005. Please continue to pray and help how ever you can!
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