Monday, March 10, 2008

1st Day of Working

Posted by: Emily Woda and Kirsti Burgess

WOW!! Today was a busy day at Camp Biloxi. It was Coach Hood's birthday (and Billy's as well - Happy Birthday, Billy!). Yesterday, we went to Walmart to pass some time before dinner and bought Coach Hood a giant birthday cake and little football decorations which we placed all over the cake. We also bought Spongebob decorations, a birthday balloon, and a very special birthday present – Spongebob playing cards. After dinner we all sang Happy Birthday to him in the packed Mess Hall and had him blow out his candles. Everyone in the mess hall joined in the celebration and birthday cake. He turned a slight shade of pink and smiled widely. Then, he checked out his playing cards. (He’s been trying to get everyone to learn how to play Yukor..sp? and Nerds – last night he tried to teach Mrs. Caperna but that didn’t work out too well!) Anyway, it was nice to be with Mr. Hood for his birthday! Real nice.


Today was also our first full day of work. Again, the trip continued to be a surprise, every step of the way! Coach Hood woke us all up at 5:30. IN THE MORNING!!!!!! After we got over the shock of the morning, we had breakfast in the mess hall, followed by devotions, and then Coach Hood quickly ordered us to get ready to go to work! (You know, "Guys, get ready. We have ten minutes and we're outta here!) So, we got ready and headed for the cars, but then discovered that Coach Hood WASN'T really ready. He just wanted us to be ready. He and Mrs. Riter went to the "Green Room" to get our work assignment while we waited for by the vans. During their foray to the "Green House," we hung out outside. Hunter tried to teach Charlie how to waltz, then Mrs. Caperna, taught them how to two-step and do the samba. But, Coach and Mrs. Riter were still not back, so everyone sang and talked, until finally they showed up. Charlie insisted that Coach Hood “owed” him twenty pushups for being late, but we still haven’t seen that happen!

Usually when you get directions, you don’t get lost, but of course, we did!!! Instead of driving toward Gulfport, Coach drove toward Biloxi and got lost. We went on a long detour of Biloxi, and got to see a lot of beach. Oh yeah, then when we stopped at a red light, we all did a Chinese Fire Drill. Benji got out of Coach Hood’s car to run around the car, so Coach left him there. He kept driving and Benji kept running after him…he was doing fine until a little miniature chicuacua mixed-breed dog started running after him. What a Coppertone moment!

Today’s work assignment was at the local Children’s Discovery Center. It’s a children’s play museum that was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. The center was inundated with 5 feet of water during the hurricane and suffered massive damages. Although most of it has been rebuilt and refurbished, they still need work setting up, organizing and cleaning the place. When we got there we were split up in three groups – one group cleaned the large windows in the front building, Mrs. Riter and another group cleaned the upstairs play areas, Coach painted some furniture, and Devyn, Jessica, Andrea, Emily, Megan and Mrs. Caperna set up crafts for the art room. It was wonderful to help out a place that brings so much joy to children that have lived through such terrible circumstances. Since we finished early, so we returned to Camp Biloxi and relaxed for about five minutes before Mr. Hood gleefully came out to advise us we were going to clean up Camp Biloxi.

Camp Biloxi is a big and busy place. It resembles those Army barracks you see in the movies with sleeping quarters, mess halls, mobile bathrooms and showers, and even a canopy chapel (which we used for devotions tonight!) We cleaned for four extremely long hours. We raked and bagged tons of leaves, cleaned out the portable chapel and prepared it for evening devotions, raked and swept the preschool, and Chase even cleaned out the cook’s large cooking rack (which was covered with some sort of grayish-green moss Mrs. Caperna argued was just grease! Yeah, right.) All of it was fun though!!!! ( It has to be, right???) The camp is now spic-n-span and the cook is delighted that he has his rack back. The staff at the camp has been so nice to us, always trying to accommodate us and take care of us… and SO MANY OTHERS! It was a joy to be able to give something back to them. Tomorrow we head out to help repair a house that Katrina devastated. Details to follow.

Before we close, we wanted to share with you the intense connection we experienced during tonight’s prayer time. We gather in our little canopy-tent chapel with those plastic construction lights. It reminded Mrs. Caperna of the old MASH units (Mrs. Caperna remembers but nobody else knows what she’s talking about) We reflected on what it means to be a servant and to be obedient to God. We chuckled at how even the most perfect plans don’t’ work out if they are not God’s plans. Finally, we gave thanks to our God for making this trip so random – we have had to totally depend on Him from day to day. No matter how much we plan, he changes our plans. And we have followed Him, and will continue to follow Him. As he leads, we follow – we are being molded into the servants he wants us to be. It is hard to follow, to submit, to give up control – but when we do…God takes us out of our comfort zone – and we grow as we learn to depend more on Him and less on ourselves. We are learning that a servant allows God to make the plans – while he simply follows in joyful obedience, expecting great things to happen!

Well, that was pretty much our day. Like Abraham and Moses, tomorrow we start off on another adventure – and only God knows what it will be. And, we are content. We are expectant. We are ready, able and willing to serve Him wherever he plants us.

“Extreme dependence and strong compassion” Live it, love it!

Hope you are all doing well back home. We all miss you.

P.S. - We have been fervently praying for Mrs. Carpinello. Please let her know she is in our hearts, our thoughts and our prayers. We love her!