Thank you, thank you for your prayers! We made it back at 3:30 am on Sunday night. Almost 18 hours each way! It gives you alot of time to think and pray and ponder. When I got back my mind was so overwhelmed with thoughts that it was hard to put it all into words, so following this post, I'l post my thoughts on the the things I felt I have learned or at least the Lord confirmed even further to me over the weekend. I thank you all for your prayers! We were safe and blessed beyond measure- except for the occasional HUGE cockroach that the guys had to sleep on the floor with and the fact that just 45 minutes before we got home, the flat bed truck ran out of gas (that was a story all in itself :) It was an amazing trip. The damage is amazing. The trees! I have never seen so many broken trees and trees just everywhere, in the roads, on houses, in streets. Sometimes for miles on the highway you just see rows of flattened or broken trees. These are huge old trees that had blocked the highways for the first few days I am sure. Cars were smashed, power lines down, houses had holes- all from the trees. Sometimes for miles, every highway sign was blown down or bent over backwards. We even saw a semitruck at a rest stop that had been blown over on it's side. The lines at the gas stations were a mile long. Many were waiting in line at a station that had no gas yet, but they were waiting for the tanker to get there. The most touching scene was when we went to a Public Municipal center in Hattiesburg Miss. They were housing about 1500 people there. They didn't need water or food there because the govt. and other companies had already provided that, but the people- O, they were just the poorest of people, mostly african american. Until you have been there, until you have seen the people eye to eye and face to face, you have no idea, just no idea. The love of Christ just comes gushing out of you. Some sat outside in the heat. When we went inside it was like an indoor stadium and down on the floor were just rows of cots and people laying on them, children playing around. There, we passed out Bibles, Children's devotionals and childrens toys -like little chalkboards with chalk (things that would give them something to do). Everyone was so grateful for anything they could get. When you walked in that place, it was the kind of place where you just prayed that you (and the kids) didn't get sick. But I knew God was with us. It's hard not to want to just stay with those people for days on end and encourage them and make sure they know the Lord. I was reminded of the Good Samaritan many times. I wanted to do so much more than what we did. My husband, Arielle and two more guys will be going down again this weekend. They will be leaving Saturday morning and coming back Monday. Praise God for Lahry. Since we've been home this week, through Lahry we found a wonderful brother, Pastor Troy, who is actually from New Orleans and even before the hurricane, he ministered to the homeless and street people. Now that he has lost all of his own possessions and his home, he and his family have put up temporary residence in Covington Louisiana and is still gathering donated goods and taking them right into the forgotten areas and neigborhoods and bringing them Christ too! Dan and Arielle will be going with him right into these areas to minister and pass out water and non perishables and the love of Christ. All week long our church has been donating things as well and now they may be taking two big trucks instead of one flatbed and a pickup truck. This second trip was not planned but the Lord planned it so. Dan ended up getting so much water that he had to take two trips to take it down because of the weight. But this second trip is a blessing because more people who wanted to help in some way are able to and we can get the things down there. Plus, this second trip will even be more "hands on". I will be staying home with the two youngest- since iit was such a long drive and they have already missed a day of school. But please keep Dan and Arielle in your prayers this weekend. I know the Lord will be glorified! :) +++ Things I have learned from Katrina (well, actually from the Lord ) 1. We all have too much and we hold onto it too tightly. A great majority of Americans are too comfortable and have too much. I am too comfortable and have too much!We are too dependant on things and on comforts. We are a culture of "consumers", we consume and consume and it never seems enough. The people who had the least were the ones who were hit the hardest. We should hold onto things so loosely, we never know when our things may be taken away or lost. Too few, especially in the church, are willing to get dirty, to get a little uncomfortable. "If you have two coats, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry."-John the Baptist 2. We take so many things for granted- even people's jobs and the wisdom God has given people to organize and create. Driving through cities and streets and on highways, you cannot imagine the work that had to be done in removing huge amounts of fallen trees, the power lines that needed to be put back up. The tree removal service, the highway workers, the construction workers, the workers for the power companies. I was amazed at the all of the organization it takes for all of these jobs and how they even know where to begin. I was so thankful for these kinds of jobs that I had never given a second thought to before. I was thankful to the Lord for allowing these people to have the wisdom and creative knowledge that goes into all of it. It is so big. He has created us with amazing capabilities to organize and think and learn and do very complicated things. 3. That I am a sinner saved by grace. This weekend I had many hours to think because the drive was so long. During the drive, the Lord reminded me of my sin. He reminded me of my old ways, my drinking days, my partying days, my loose morals in younger days, my lying, my pride, my ungratefulness, my sinful ways even to this day-- and I was reminded of His mercy. I was reminded that I have lived the same kind of life as many of those people in New Orleans- and by God's grace alone, I have been spared. There is no reason in the world that my city should be spared. I was and am deserving of God's wrath just as much as anyone else. All I kept saying to myself was it so easily could have been me. When I saw myself and was reminded of where I have come from, I saw that I was no better than anyone else. I did not bring myself out of my sin. God did that. I cannot say like the pharisee, "God, I thank You that I'm not like other people --greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector." or "God, I thank you that I don't live in that wicked city", "God I thank you that I don't go around gambling and flaunting my sin"; no, I must say with the tax collector, "O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner". Jesus said: "I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For the proud will be humbled, but the humble will be honored." 4. In all that I saw, in the big picture, I saw the glory of God. I saw His vastness, His sovereignty, how He is control of things. We cannot comprehend His ways. we have no idea the details that He knows. He knows how He is going to work in each life, in each home, in each shelter, on each death bed. He controls the wind and the waves. He is all powerful and mighty. He is showing His majesty through His mighty works- even in a hurricane like this. It is His orchestration. His symphony of sorts. He has things planned out accordingly. He is setting up appointments and offering wake up calls. "Do you see My glory? Do you see My majesty and my awesomeness? Do you hear Me calling you to Myself?" We must all bend at the weight of His glory and His ways. He is in control of the universe. We are not. In all, I saw an even bigger picture of God. I saw His vastness and His power. And I saw myself- as not worthy and a sinner. I saw that I am responsible for myself, MY obedience and doing what the Lord calls ME to do. People need the Lord. And many times He comes to them through compassion and mercy in His people. In His love, Chanin p.s. you can view pictures at www.xanga.com/more_of_Him