Live from Pearlington - April 9, 2006
Things are hopping in Pearlington!
While it’s quiet in town, from the perspective of the number of volunteers present at the moment, there are lots of good things going on. I met up yesterday morning with Sam Rodriquez, Eric Tilgner and Tim Goodnow from the Dog Soldiers who had tarped Cindy and Raymond Diaz's roof and were heading there to muck out and spray the interior. I was able to hook them up in minutes with an incoming group from Northside Baptist Church in Clinton, MS. who gave them all the extra help they needed. Thanks, Charlie Holmes, for that miracle facilitation.
The bunkhouses in the field are all ready to rock and the Americorps kids were busy painting them and making them look good. The kitchen tent is almost ready to open and is just awaiting some linoleum for under the equipment, a state bylaw. It should be in by Monday, but regardless, they are feeding 150 volunteers a day while they await completion. The showers are up and running and Luke will be hauling away today the last of the original units. The First Southern Baptist Church is also feeding lots of volunteers and Daniel Baldwin and his wife and colleagues are doing an excellent job there. More to come on them later....
Larry Randall has things well in hand at the Pearl*Mart and Laurie Spaschak is doing an outstanding job coordinating the volunteer housing, as well as working with many of the other groups to keep everyone on the same page. A survey of the town is almost complete, as to the stage of rebuilding of each family's home, with an eye to the big picture of what needs to be done and the most efficient way to coordinate the work and precious resources available. More to come on that later....
Mary-Elaine Wityshyn, her husband Wilf and his son Chris have the Presbyterian Camp well in hand. They are all good Canadians (of course!) have reorganized and revitalized the facility and are working extensively with other groups and with Laurie to ensure we all stay focused on the people of Pearlington and the daunting tasks ahead.
Yesterday, at the bleachers in the field, Reverend Rawls and Pastor Fields officiated at a memorial service for those lost to Katrina in Pearlington. In the audience was Tim White, the foster son of Dr. Sidney Strickland, who passed away in a trailer fire last week. Pastor Fields surprised me by asking me to sing - a capella - and a moment of quiet reflection yielded part of a song:
"There's a hole in the world tonight,
There's a cloud of fear and sorrow;
There's a hole in the world tonight,
Don't let there be a hole in the world tomorrow."
As Jennifer Johnson of Huntsville has so eloquently put it, we must all concentrate on rebuilding Pearlington "one brick at a time." We must have the courage and wisdom to ensure that all other considerations are secondary. I have done this work in many parts of the world and things succeed only when the players involved remember that politics, personal issues, ego and personal glory have NO place in our efforts. We must cooperate, remain humble servants of the greater good and remember that if it does not DIRECTLY benefit the people for whom we came here to serve, we are acting just like the other large government organizations that we are all so clear have somewhat failed these people.
We must move together gracefully, as a flock of geese, not lumber about loudly like a herd of cows. We must, first, do no harm. We must support and care for each other, as this work is taxing and demanding and most brutal when done in isolation. We are all in this together and the good people of Pearlington are counting on us.
Let's amaze Pearlington and the world with this wonderful new model we have created: various groups and individuals, standing shoulder to shoulder, hearts and hands open and linked, Perfect Strangers loving this little town back to life.
We can do it. We ARE doing it!
And being a part of this is a rare privilege and an outstanding opportunity to walk our talk.
God is watching us....