On March 25, The Gazette ran a story about spring break mission trips, focusing on one high school group from Sunnyside Christian Church. About 40 students from the church have spent the last week in the Gulf Coast region, helping residents still reeling from the aftermath of hurricane Katrina reconstruct their lives.Kim Smith, 15-, submitted a short summary of her trip to The Gazette. Here's what she wrote:
March 25: Jesus laid down his life for us. Now it's my turn to dedicate my time for the lives of others. As I look around at the faces of my teammates, aglow with early morning crankiness, I realize how much I trust these friends. I trust them to let me sleep comfortably all night (though the sleeping quarters on the bus could use some improvement). I trust them to save me from the giant mosquitoes. Most of all, I trust my fellow mission-seekers to support me on this journey. In a few hours we'll arrive at Waveland, Miss. Who knows what we'll find? It's a whole other world out there, and I'm ready to jump in head first.
March 26: Today we experienced all the "firsts" of our expedition. We glimpsed the first damaged house of many; its light-blue paint stood out against the opaque colors of a ditch. We touched our first wave on the bruised beaches of Mississippi. The cool water ran gingerly through our eager fingers. We captured the first sunset in our minds. Streaks of pink decorated the sky - the same sky I'm familiar with back home in Colorado. No matter how much devastation litters this land, no matter how far this place is from the rest of the world, we're all under the same sky, right?
March 27: At our camp, we tread on the fragments of fury. Seashells, deposited by hurricane Katrina, are now half-buried in the dirt. They serve as a reminder of what happened here. Here in Waveland, I look down a busy road and life seems almost ordinary. And yet, the scattered trees, the piles of garbage, the ruined homes all tell the truth. But these aren't the reminders that bring me the reality of it all. I can actually feel what happened here in August of 2005 as I walk over the scattered fragments of thousands of seashells. In awe of such fury, I tread softly.
March 28: Today, as the busses rumbled over the rutted beach roads; I saw the beautiful and the horrible, the recent and the ancient, and the natural and the artificial. The broken trees in Waveland are blotched with ruin. Instead of doing the "dirty work," I painted a preschool. I came to Mississippi expecting to be used as a laborer. Instead of gutting a house or clearing debris, I manipulated a brush to bring hope to the world of thirty children who attend the Small Blessings Preschool. With my yellow and blue, I manage to brighten a place of hardship.
March 29: One of my group leaders said today, "We are using destruction to rebuild the destroyed." In order to begin anew, we must demolish the ruin. Each day this week, groups from our camp depart to individual sites in Waveland or Bay Saint Louis and clear away the massacre. Once the damaged is gone, there is room for new. Even now, seven months after the storm, destruction is still involved down in Mississippi. Even though the demolition of Katrina is long gone, its legacy still exists as dilapidated houses and shattered trees. The victims of Katrina are still tearing down the heartache and the pain. The ruins are being erased and rebuilt. Waveland is begining anew.
March 30: Today I had the pain and pleasure of clearing an area of tree debris. At the site, I eagerly dove into the toil of dragging shattered trees down a road to a field to dispose of them. To think, these towering giants now lay crippled on the war-torn earth. To drag great pieces of the past in the dust takes a lot of guts. The branches fought valiantly, constantly clawing at my arms and legs with broken fingers. After enduring raw feet and blistered hands for a day, our team had erected a pile of tree debris that extended across the small field with a height of nearly seven feet. The wooded area we worked in, once cluttered with the remnants of timber, now lay bare. Though it may be painful to clear treasured things away, the process enables the new to populate.
March 31: The yards of many homes in Waveland are marred by intrusive debris. However, the concealed beauty of Mississippi exists beyond what ordinary volunteers see. A few of my teammates and I stumbled upon three sheltered ponds at our worksite. The still water of each reflected the emerald trees, only broken by two friendly ducks.A chair and table, as well as many fallen trees, littered the surrounding dirt. And yet, the beauty of each liquid mirror remained undisturbed by the fury of Katrina. The true beauty of Mississippi lives on.