By Kathy L. Gilbert
United Methodist News Service
Bernert and 45 of his fellow classmates from
After the early wakeup call, the students piled into several vans and headed out for
A.J. Stanovich, caretaker, gathered the students together for a little history lesson, pep talk and to emphasize the need to always be safe. “Don’t step on any wood. Last week we had a lady walk right out of here, step on a piece of wood and ended up with a nail in her foot.”
He says the camp had the capacity to house 299 people before the storm. Stanovich says, “You won’t believe what it looked like, we had a 65-foot steel hulled shrimp boat deposited on the property.”
Ida Punco, who describes herself as a “local yokel” was also at the camp helping in the cleanup. She says the hospital she was born in, her parent’s home and her grandparent’s home were all destroyed by the “demon-driven waters.”
“You don’t know how much it means to us to have you all here,” she says to some students.
The students from the Catholic school had some other choices for their spring break. “We could have gone to
“It is great experience,” says Marquite Powell, a junior. “I have a friend from
Chris Wilkes, a social studies teacher and coordinator of the mission trip, says he was only expecting 12 to 15 students to be interested in the trip. “Before I knew it I had 51 signed up and that whittled down to 46. They jumped at the chance.”
Wilkes says he hopes the students go back to
Meanwhile, in another part of town, Cassie Chastain, Kelly Habegger, Christine Reilly and Hannah Coady were taking a brief break to sit on Ruby Jones’ front porch and catch the late afternoon breeze.
They had put in a hard day’s work tearing down Sheetrock and ceilings and sweeping out wheelbarrow loads of trash.
“God calls me to do this,” says Chastain, explaining why she chose this as her spring break destination.
“Yeah, partying in
The coeds were part of a team of students from
In the six months since the storm, Jones says this is the first time anyone has come to her aid.
“This house has been sitting here in mold for six months,” she says. “I don’t know what I would have done if they had not come. … Probably I would have stayed sitting in this mold waiting and wondering.”
Hurricane Katrina killed 238 Mississippians and 1,287 in
The Rev. Edward Moses, pastor of Biloxi St. Paul UMC and Mount Pleasant UMC in
“I don’t know who it was that said Katrina means cleansing but I believe that,” he says. “We are not alone, devastation happens but this a cleansing.”
People have a chance to start over in their physical, spiritual and emotional worlds and that is a good thing, he says. “As long as our eyes are on Christ Jesus we see this as part of the grace given to us.”