Mississippi Missionaries Washington Teens Spend Vacation Helping Disaster Relief Effort

Seventeen students and seven adults from Auburn Adventist Academy and Lewis County Adventist School spent their Thanksgiving break in the hurricane-hit town of Pearlington, Miss. Spending 54 hours in a bus didn’t dampen the students’ enthusiasm for showing Jesus’ love to the residents of Pearlington.

The first morning, as the sun rose over the bayou, the group met Jimmy and Robin Lamy, a Catholic family new to their community. After the hurricane, this couple decided to help any neighbor who needed their help. With guidance from Jimmy and Robin, the students formed two work crews.

“Ya’ll come on in to Mr. Charlie’s house,” Jimmy said, as seven girls jumped out of his pickup. “Mr. Charlie’s house was completely covered with water during Katrina, so now it has to be completely gutted. Make sure you put on these masks, because the mold in here is terrible.”

Armed with shovels, crowbars, work gloves, and hammers, they attacked the walls with gusto. Within minutes the house looked even more like a disaster zone, piled high with scraps of wall, ceiling, and insulation. By noon, Mr. Charlie’s house was gutted, and it was time to go to a new house.

“I coulda never done it without ya’ll,” said Mr. Charlie as he waved goodbye.

Throughout the week, similar tasks were repeated at 13 homes, as students gutted and painted houses, cleared yards, surveyed residents for FEMA, and listened to stories of the most devastating hurricane of the last 60 years.

“I loved interacting with people and listening to their stories,” said Nikole Modrow, LCAS sophomore. “There’s a lot of hope and faith here.”

“[These people] keep forgetting that we’re supposed to be helping them, not them helping us,” said LCAS sophomore Jeffrey Meador.

Residents at each home welcomed and thanked the students in the warm tradition of Southern hospitality. Time and time again, people waved and said thank you to the missionaries who came 2,500 miles across country to help the Katrina survivors.

“Thank you, baby, for comin’ to help us out,” said Mrs. McArthur with tears filling her eyes and a cigarette in her mouth. “There’s 30 years of my life in that there ditch. It breaks my heart to see all my memories there.” The students and staff spent three days cleaning out her two-story home just 30 feet from the bayou.

At a farewell speech around a bonfire, Jimmy told the group: “Ya’ll’s coming here has changed my life. And if you ever have a hard time in the future, just know that Jimmy Lamy will be praying for you. We love ya’ll.”

February 01, 2006 / Washington Conference