Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Four Years Later, God Is Still on His Throne

This is an email that a friend from the Mississippi Gulf Coast sent yesterday. It helps to get the perspective of someone who has been there through it all.

Hello friends,
I haven't written much lately. Not much has changed since the last time I wrote, but since tomorrow marks the 4th anniversary of Katrina, I thought I'd write some. I started to say write a little, but I don't won't to lie to you!!

Four years ago, I was sitting in Tracy &Van Sikes' home in Marietta, GA, glued to their TV screen. Flipping between CNN, Fox and the Weather Channel, I knew that the coast I left on August 28 was gone forever. Having been through Camille as well, I knew that recovery would take years, not months. I watched as Jim Cantore stood in hip deep water at the Armed Forces Retirement Home. I knew then that the amount of water was unparalleled. I had stood in that same parking lot on several occasions. A few days later I watched a home video taken from the parking garage at the Beau Rivage. The water was up to the bottom of the video screen on the marquee. I knew that was a lot of water, but didn't realize how much until some months later when I was a the traffic light by the Beau. I looked up at the bottom of that marquee and was overwhelmed at the true depth of that water. And so it goes.

Now, four years later, I am still overwhelmed by how high that sign at the Beau is.
If you drive down Hwy. 90 (beach road) you won't see the piles of debris, misplaced boats, and ripped up trees. That has, for the most part, been cleared away. What I see when I drive down the beach is the emptiness of it all. Lots of empty lots. You still see lots of slabs and steps to nowhere. There are a few homes that have been rebuilt or repaired. An occasional gas station or restaurant has reappeared. In fact I had lunch at the White Cap this past Thursday. It was in the Gulfport Harbor prior to Katrina, but was rebuilt several miles to the east on the north side of Hwy. 90. The food, however, was just as good as I remembered.

I have a new job now. I work for the Mississippi State University Extension Service. I travel around the lower 3 coastal counties. I enjoy driving along the beach and bayous. I have learned how much water there really is down here. I hadn't known or thought about that until Katrina. I love to drive close to water and watch the boats sailing in and out. Very peaceful. I suppose that answers the question, "Why do you stay there where you are in harm's way during hurricane season?" It is peaceful and beautiful and the pace of life is slower.

As I travel around Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties, I get to see the progress that has been made, and what still remains to be done. In Hancock County the county offices are still in temporary trailers, but downtown Bay St. Louis has many shops and eateries open. The Bay bridge is open and 4 lanes across. Pass Christian, once again, lost a lot of the beach front properties, as they did in Camille. But new stores are slowly popping up. The homes on Scenic Drive are being repaired and soon will be shining brightly. The Wal-Mart on the Pass Christian/Long Beach border has been rebuilt and is taking applications for employment. Long Beach is coming back.
The Friendship Oak survived another one. I have been there several times. Walking under those centuries old branches is indescribable. There is still many empty lots in Long Beach and Gulfport. But you see signs of recovery everywhere.

We still have volunteer groups coming down. Of course not as many as were coming immediately after the storm. I happened across Camp Victor in Ocean Springs one day while looking for a food pantry. Camp Victor is sponsored by several different denominations and it serves as a homebase for volunteer groups. There is a kitchen and cafeteria for feeding, several dormitory rooms with lots of bunk beds, a common area for relaxing and a chapel for praying. It is an awesome facility. Hanging from the rafters are T-shirts from the groups that have passed through Camp Victor. There is a map hanging on the wall with pins indicating the places these groups called home. I couldn't count the number of pins there. The walls are covered with messaged from the volunteers. I think the thing that stands out the most is the pair of tennis shoes that are on display. They are held together with duct tape!! I've always heard you can fix anything with duct tape. I guess it's true. As I said it's an amazing place.

Four years later things are moving along nicely. Have we completely recovered? No. But we are closer today than we were yesterday. If you volunteered or know someone who did, please accept my heartfelt thanks. We have come this far because of the willingnessof the people here to get up and work and because of the thousands of volunteers who came. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I hope that this little note has conveyed to you a sense of accomplishment and hope. I do tend to get reflective sometime, but all in all the mood I see is positive and one of hope. Please continue to keep the coast in your prayers.

Love you all,
And then she added this P.S.: Please keep the folks on the east coast in your prayers. Tropical Storm Danny is buzzing along in the Atlantic.

After surviving a storm like Katrina and daily living with the aftermath, I guess you can never look at a weather forecast the same. God is in control and His glory is shining brightly on the Gulf Coast.

Job 42:2-3


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