I'm back in Pineville!
I was very grateful for the chance to get away from power outage, heat, humidity, and lack of water for a few days, but it felt so good to get back!
There is still a lot of damage, lots of trees down, and many folks without power... but there are electric company trucks out everywhere, and it has been neat looking at where they are all from. There are folks here from hundreds of miles away to help us put our power system back together. I've read in some news articles that the people of Louisiana have been rude to these guys, yelling at them and pitching fits because the power has been out for so long. That's really sad... but I believe it. Unfortunately, for every vocal rude person out there, there are probably dozens of grateful folks. I wish there was a way to express my gratitude to these guys... it's a shame that they would come so far to do such good work and have to leave feeling abused by Louisiana's lunatic fringe.
I usually don't stop to talk to workers on the road... I feel like it interrupts them. Perhaps I should make a point of stopping and saying "thanks" as I go about my business today.
I spent last night with friends again. I didn't have a chance to really clean my house before the storm hit, so between the "stink" of a house that had been sitting empty and needed cleaning and the "stink" of generator fumes, it just wasn't going to be a pleasant evening at my place! But today I start to tackle that head-on.
As of late last night, the church still didn't have any power. It was kinda eerie driving past with everything dark. Our sign is always lit up out front, and there are plenty of lights on the outside of the building as well. Seeing the church like that... it's just kinda sad.
We've made arrangements to have services in another building downtown if the power doesn't get restored today, but I'm really hoping that the power will be back by then. I'll be grateful to be with my Christian Challenge family no matter where we meet, but having the services in our own building would be so much better!!
Pastor Nathan has been doing an amazing job. He has been checking up on folks from the church and helping them with cleanup, minor repairs, food, ice, water... even temporarily hooking them up with generators. And that's all on top of his responsibilities for the city! When I left town Tuesday morning, I gave him my keys. I figured if the power was still out after a couple of days, he could raid my freezer and maybe a few folks could eat it rather than let it all go to waste. I also wanted to know that while I was out of town, someone could get into the house in case anything else happened.
In the grand scheme of things, my little freezer was such a minor thing. I didn't have any leaks in my roof, no trees down, no flooding... I wasn't facing many of the things that other families in the church were dealing with. I certainly wasn't expecting anyone to bring a generator to my house to keep my freezer frozen... but that's what Pastor Nathan did! I've also received several phone calls from folks at Christian Challenge over the last few days -- just calling to check up on me! And many of those folks were dealing with situations far worse than mine.
You know, it's one thing for folks to check up on you and express their concern for you when nothing is happening in their lives... But when their lives are impacted, and they are still reaching out to others... that's something special. It's really neat to have a church family like this! I've been in Pineville for a little less than four months now. I'm still very "new" to this church. I've struggled a bit with some aspects of southern culture... some things still make me a little uncomfortable... but after what I've experienced in the last week, I cannot question the fact that these folks love eachother, love God... and even love me.