Time to tell ya'll about my adventures in Bogalusa!
Bogalusa, Louisiana ... ya know the toe of the boot? Yep, that's where we were!
Last week was my third trip to that tiny, smelly, sweaty, amazing little town. :) We've been going down to help out with the hurricane relief. You wouldn't believe the damage that is still left from Hurricane Katrina unless you saw it for yourself.
A group from Indiana.
A group from Poplar Bluff, Missouri.
We met at a church in Bogalusa called Westside Emmanuel Baptist Church.
One of the coolest guys in the world - Pastor Marcus Rosa.
I wanted to bottle him up and bring him back to Danville!!!!
Amazing guy! So full of life and love and Jesus!
I'm excited to spend eternity with that guy! Yes!!!!
Well, I was put in three different places throughout the week.
Four, if you count Sunday's activities.
Sunday ... we lead worship for Westside.
Sunday night ... we put on skits/puppet shows/the Gospel message ... good times.
Monday ... we started work.
We had groups fixing roofs in the sunny, 105 degree, high humidity weather.
And my group went to Miss Sadie's house ... where we helped her dry wall some holes in her walls and bedroom closet, mud and sand walls, paint her bedroom a nice blue color, help her organize her things, tear off her ceiling and build her a new one, and lay insulation in her attic.
Tuesday ... I helped Shelley cook in the kitchen, and we had a Southern Fish Fry! Yeah!
Wednesday ... back to work at Miss Sadie's.
Thursday ... a new location. I went with a group to a run down schoolhouse where we finished sanding walls and coating the walls with primer.
Thursday night ... a block party! We had balloon animals, food, snow cones (or snowballs, as Pastor Marcus called them!), face painting, carnival games, prize giveaways ... all kinds of great stuff! .... And Dave and I got to share the Gospel message with everyone there!
Friday ... was our fun day. We went to New Orleans ... or Nawlins. Or! As I said one night ... Narlins. Yeah ... no one let go of that one until I got back to Indiana!
Saturday mornin' ... we left at 5am Louisiana time ... 6am our time ... and didn't get home until 10:30pm. Long time in the car!
That's the short version of the trip ....
Some other highlights for me were .......
*Devotions .... everyone on the trip picked a verse/passage that God had been using in their life and shared about it.
- Frank Bennett shared about Ephesians 2:1-10 ... talked about how we are God's paintbrushes ... He uses us to do His work ... and it is amazing work!
- Sallie Smith shared about trials and how we need to have God's perspective. Hebrews 11:10 and 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. Good stuff!
- I'll share my devo in another post.
- And it was great to hear all the young folks share ... the 7th-12th graders! Yeah!
We went to Mr. Barry's "house" late in the week ... where we found no house at all. He lived on a concrete slab. He had a chair for sleeping in and a chair for holding his possessions. He had a collection of Starbucks bottles and a light saber. He had nothing. He slept outside in the crazy hot and humid weather. He had no food. No shelter. And he wasn't lucid half the time because, Pastor Marcus told us, his brain had been fried from drugs. ..... God taught me so much about thankfulness after seeing that.
*The guys singing in the shower.
The showers at the church are in a room between the guys' and girls' rooms. Everyday, the guys sang. And not just any songs .... hilarious songs like, Play that Funky Music White Boy ... and A Whole New World ... from Aladdin. It was great! I woke up from a nap, smiling, 'cause they were singing so loudly!
Pastor Mike and Shelley brought 9 of their youth, and I got to know all of them a lot better. I'd met them back in April when I went to visit PM and Shelley. It was great to laugh with them, ride to Nawlins listenin' to Family Force Five, be accepted by their girls, and be black with Tori, Sarah, Rachel, Jennifer, and Sallie. .... Yes. We were black. Sarah brought "black woman make-up" with her to Bogalusa, and so we painted our faces black and had a ball! Lots of strange looks from the rest of the team. Awesome, yo!
*Seeing Pastor Mike and Shelley.
PM and Shelley brought 9 of their youth from Missouri, and it was amazing to see them!
- Pastor Mike came up to me on taco night and asked, "Do you know how I know Wes isn't here?" .... "'Cause there's still sour cream left." (My brother loves sour cream ... eats the whole tub by himself. .... Pastor Mike walked away saying ... "Sweet memories."
- Pastor Mike called me "Junior" here and there throughout the week. That's my nickname that he and Shelley call me .... 'cause, in case you haven't heard the story, we did a service project at the Danville rehab center several years ago, and all the old ladies thought that Pastor Mike and Shelley were my parents. Too much fun! .... I miss hearing Pastor Mike call me Junior.
- Sunday night of the trip, I balled my eyes out during my devotional ... yes, in front of everyone. And Shelley and I were already emotional because Pastor Mike and Jeremy were leading worship together just like they used to before PM and Shelley had to move. So Shelley and I hugged and cried most of the night. Shelley said, "I'm so proud of you." ... and ... "I missed you." ... in my ear while we were hugging. Something I'll never forget.
- And Pastor Mike gave me a side hug at 5am as we were leaving and said, "I'm proud of you."
I just really miss those guys! So it was great to see them for a whole week!
The whole trip was really great! God was at work! He taught me about being thankful, being faithful, and seeing things from His perspective ....
Bogalusa ... I miss that place already!!!