December 02, 2008
Aldersgate, Slidell, Louisiana, October 2008
On the drive down, I had been thinking a lot about how much has changed in my life over the last 6 months. I feel like I’ve been making progress towards “getting on with my life". That seem to have been the most frequent advice I’ve been given lately.
So, pulling in to Aldersgate United Methodist Church Sunday evening was one of those “wow" experiences. When I was here in March 2008, construction had already begun on new facilities. It is one thing to hear about plans, and quite another to see them come to fruition.
The dedication of this facility was held on October 5, 2008, just hours before we arrived. Some volunteers arrived before us and were already settled into the Epworth Center prior to the dedication. Mere hours before, construction work was still being completed.
It’s quite an honor to be among the “first-in." And, it’s a little like the Hilton of mission camps. Air conditioning, brand new bunks and beds, 5 women’s showers, freshly painted walls, awesome art, and a dishwasher. It’s an inspiring package. Golden tans, cooper hues, shades of orange hope, enough room and meal seating for 50 volunteers. By next Friday (10/10) the North Shore Disaster Recovery offices will be housed here as well, so that the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of Slidell may have back the meeting house they have been without for the last three years.
From the consecration ceremony for the Epworth Center at Aldersgate for the housing of Recovery Ministry Volunteers, for the work of Case Mangers and Recovery Ministry Staff, and for the preparation of GOD’s people for discipleship:
“The consecration of this building is in vain without the consecration of those whose gifts it represents. We give thanks for all those who have hoped and dreamed, planned and labored, waited and watched as these walls have been constructed. We give ourselves anew this day to the service of GOD through the building up of the community of faith and for the rebuilding of walls and lives torn apart by the winds and waters of the storms.
“We consecrate this building to the service of others and for those who work with hands and arms and backs and shoulders to build homes and hope and to care for the weary and heavy laden; to the ministry of administration upon whose ability and faithfulness depends the wise conduct of our life together and our ministry to the world; and to the spiritual enrichment of all who shall come here seeking knowledge. We consecrate this Epworth Center, and we consecrate ourselves anew to the service of humanity in which we perform the true service of GOD."
Slidell is estimating its recovery is close to 90%. 90% of the recovery work has been done by volunteers. I can’t decide if that is awesome or sad. It just makes me tear up every time I hear it. The slow recovery movement inward toward the Gulf is making progress. This facility has just begun its life of dedication to those who are dedicated to making a difference. Even as Slidell is nearing the end of its immediate needs, the city will continue to give of itself by supporting volunteers who will be staying here, but working in other communities.
There are still too many people along the Gulf Coast who are waiting to “get on with their lives." I think that is what will be giving me the strength I need. I will be more dedicated to getting on with my life now, in order to help them in getting on with theirs.
Posted by jaselin at December 2, 2008 08:15 PM