A Volunteer's Tale - Jane Els
I’m going back to Pearlington, Mississippi.
I’ve been telling people for a long time to "just go." On our last trip to Pearlington I told my husband, Beaven, that it was such good physical exercise we needed to find a way to keep it up. Then Jon wrote about the power of just one person to make a difference. I noticed my calendar is empty for the next couple of months. This alone is an incredible and rare situation. So I decided to "just go." I’m leaving tomorrow morning.
From what I’ve seen in Pearlington, the goal to have the town up and running by the 2nd anniversary of the storm is do-able. I’d like to be part of that effort.
I started going to the Gulf Coast in March this year. My church is part of a cluster of nine Presbyterian churches in Dallas that work together on trips like this so it was real easy to hook up with the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. We went to Luling and Houma, Louisiana to help set up their camps in March. Then in October and December later that year we went to Pearlington. After our first trip to Pearlington we were hooked.
The town is small enough and the job is big enough that we knew volunteers could make a difference. The town is also poor enough that volunteers are the only ones who will make it happen; there’s no money to pay for the labor. Plus we fell in love with the people. I came home and wrote several postings to my blog explaining why we went, what we found there and how it felt. Once you’ve met ladies like Shirley Thompson and her mother, Miss Annie, your heart will belong to Pearlington. After you’ve met a character like Dallas Trammel you will never forget the town. My stories are all on my blog: http://janeels.blogspot.com/
When I got home after the last trip I started surfing the web and found Canada Jon’s blog and website. It kept me connected to the town and the people I met there. Then Texas had bad weather for a week and I found myself restless. And then Jon posted his entry on what a difference one person can make. I started thinking about just going by myself. I remembered a comment a friend made about why she was going to Louisiana to help with the hurricane recovery; "I have the time, the money and the energy to go. It would be a shame, no—it would be a sin, not to go."
I have the world’s most understanding husband. He encouraged me to just go ahead and go. He told me that he would hold down the fort; make sure our granddaughters stay spoiled and keep our dogs and cats happy. So, I leave in the morning.
I have no idea how long I will stay. I might last only a week and get homesick and I reserve the right to run back home with my head held high, knowing I gave it everything I had. I also might stay a couple of months and Beaven has even researched airfares to New Orleans. I do have some idea of where I’ll stay but that’s about all I know for sure. I don’t know what I’ll be doing. And I don’t know how long I’ll be gone. To me, that’s the exciting adventure that faith takes you. I leave those details in God’s hands. I am open to what God wants to use me for and for whatever God wants to show me. I hope I’ll be able to see clearly enough to write about it when I get home.
In the meantime, somebody remind Beaven to water the plants.