Report from McLean Baptist Church
Dirty Faith II
Katrina Recovery Mission Trip to
Mission Trip Report and Review
The McLean Baptist Church Katrina Recovery Mission Trip proved to be a resounding success. A diverse team of 55 missioners got their faith dirty as they all worked side by side for several days in Pearlington, Mississippi at no less than 10 separate sites and projects. Our work assignments included deck and handicap ramp construction, interior and exterior painting, bathroom and foyer tile work, electrical work, insulation installation, yard and grounds clean up, siding and window installation, debris removal, field kitchen help, and lumber salvage. Our work was hard, our days were long, our spirits stayed elevated, and our familiar accommodations at the Pearlington Recovery Center shelter met our needs.
Many within the group worked along side their children, and some learned new home building skills as more seasoned hands guided their labors to success. All of the MBC missioners exceeded the anticipated goals set by several project managers working to see Pearlington recover. In many instances, project leaders familiar with volunteer laborers found our group to be fast, professional, energetic, and above all, willing. One said without reserve that we had accomplished a week’s worth of work in two days.
The McLean Baptist Church mission group completed 1,204 total man hours of work and related support activities during the trip. The five-man Advance Team logged some 7,200 hundred total miles in three vehicles as they transported tools, supplies, and luggage to and from the Gulf Coast. Ample financial donations from the extended MBC family enabled the mission group to purchase additional building materials locally to advance our progress and that of several displaced residents. In a few of the work projects, McLean’s work force advanced the timetable for re-entry into permanent housing by several weeks.
A small group of MBCers split off from our main mission body for two days and joined hands and efforts with Hickory Hammock Baptist Church (HHBC) of Milton, Florida to prepare a storm damaged church sanctuary for drywall installation. The willingness of HHBC to partner with McLean Baptist Church arose from a cooperative spirit forged in February 2006 while Pearlington still struggled in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A half dozen missioners completed the final brush strokes of paint, and thereby finished a year-long road to recovery for the New Hope Baptist Church, a project we worked on during our first trip to Pearlington in 2006. Just in time for regular Sunday services, this group gave the grounds of New Hope a thorough clean up and prepared the church’s flower beds for new spring planting.
Many of the McLean volunteers worked under the supervision and direction of project coordinator Tom Dalessandri of "Mountains to Mississippi," a Pearlington rebuilding project based in Carbondale, Colorado. At the home of Everett Cook, our teams installed French doors and an exterior handicap access ramp, and painted the home’s interior walls. For the residence of Shirley Thompson, our eager hands installed insulation in the crawl space, laid tile in the bathroom and foyer, did needed electrical work, cleaned the construction site, and organized unused materials and supplies for the next volunteer work force. At the homes of Joseph Keyes and Etta Lee, teams of rakers and baggers attended to a half acre of storm and construction debris. The cleaned sites elevated the spirits of both home owners and improved the overall appearance of their neighborhood street.
At the home of Ben Taylor, a man who has given much of his time and energy to so many in Pearlington, our teams built a front porch and a rear deck for his home. On the property of Sam Bailey, MBCers removed storm toppled trees and spread mulch on a future volunteer vehicle parking and encampment location. A small group dismantled and salvaged the wood and decking from an unused handicap ramp in the yard of Susie Sharp. A large group of men and women from MBC worked along side with Clem and his son at their construction site and installed windows and vinyl siding on their residence.
Missioners from the McLean Baptist Church and Westwood Baptist Church pitched in where and when necessary to assist the weary hands of Zeke and Jim in the shelter field kitchen and in Pearl*Mart. Tables were cleaned, vegetables were chopped, bananas were offloaded, and trash was removed. Each morning and night, our group of volunteers clustered around a warm and cheery bonfire with fellow Christian volunteers from New York, Massachusetts, Utah, Colorado, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida. Fellowship and Christian witness abounded as members of our group of Virginians and Marylanders mingled with other like minded individuals and groups from distant place.…all eager and willing to step up, step in, and help out.
Near the conclusion of our mission time in Pearlington, generous contributions from our group enabled the purchase, assembly, and distribution of ten infant and toddler care kits for some single mothers in Pearlington. At the conclusion of our mission journey, a smooth transition; a handoff of work projects, contacts and materials was made to another group of volunteers arriving from New York. Within an hour or so after our departure, these Methodists from Upstate New York began their work and continued the progress on several of our job sites.
Throughout our time in Pearlington, the Advance Team and others from MBC maintained a close and congenial working relationship with Laurie Spaschak, Bob Putnam, Larry Randall, and Herb Ritchie of the Pearlington Recovery Center. The tireless efforts of these dedicated volunteers and those of Charlie Holmes of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship have enabled countless hundreds of volunteers to work toward the recovery, rebuilding, and restoration of Pearlington, Mississippi. It was our group’s honor and pleasure to witness such steadfast determination and dedication given in service to those still struggling under immense strain and turmoil.
My thanks and praise go out to the members of our mission group and to those of our congregation who so willingly supported our journey and labor with their generosity and prayers. We advanced the clock on Pearlington’s recovery, we were the hands and feet of Christ, we got our faith dirty.
And grace will lead me home,