Sunday, March 09, 2008

Camp Biloxi

Posted by: Emily Woda, Kirsti Burgess and Mrs. Caperna

Hi Y'all,

This morning we had the privilege of attending service at Camp Biloxi's church, The Church of the Good Shepherd, and it was awesome. Before service started the pastor introduced "The Extra Mile K9 Crisis Team." This ministry was created by Pastor Ralph Buchorn several years ago. They travel all over the country with "K9 chaplains", trained ministry dogs, who provide spiritual and emotional comfort to individuals who have be traumatized by tragedy or crisis. We were introduced to two special K9 chaplains, Georgie and Hollie,. These K9 golden retrievers had just returned from a missions trip to Northern Illinois University, the site of a recent college shooting where 5 were left dead and 12 injured. Georgie and Hollie spent time with students in the residence halls and around campus, and provide much needed comfort to the grieving university family. But, that's not all they've done recently- they've also visited with children who have lost parents in the Iraq War, and provided emotional support to Katrina families in the Biloxi/Gulfport area still trying to recover from Katrina. These dogs are beyond cool, they rock! And we hear two sheepdogs will be joining their team shortly. Please pray for them.

Shrimp boat? Did you say shrimp boat? Yep, you got it. We went fishing on a shrimp boat this afternoon. No one knew much about shrimp fishing, so this was a new adventure. We hopped on the boat and sailed out into the murky waters. Once we were out a bit, the fisherman pulled out a 16 ft. wide net and slowly let it down the back of the boat. Once the net was completely out, he used a lever to spread apart two "boards" that served to open the net wide. Then, we had to wait...and wait...and wait. After twenty minutes, the fisherman began pulling the net back as swarms of seagulls nipped at the delicious scavengers resting at the bottom of the net. From the sophistication of all these gadgets and the clanking sounds they were making, we all thought the fisherman had caught at least some shrimp. Well...actually - he only caught one! A white shrimp - an interesting, albino-looking creature with long antennas. But, never fret, in the net were lots of other less interesting sea critters like sardines, anchovies, catfish (little ones) and many other kinds of small bait. At any rate, just when we thought the height of the trip was our small acquisition, Hunter decided to eat the live bait! Yes, you heard right. He put it in his mouth for all to see, grimaced a little, and swallowed it. Of course, he then drank all of Mrs. Caperna's green tea soda. Interestingly, it didn't stop there, one by one our sophmores volunteered to do the same thing, including Jenna, Megan, Kirsti and Andrea! (Megan Guadagnino actually swallowed a live fish. Can you believe it!) Mrs. Caperna was gagging. Mrs. Riter couldn't believe it, and the lady who owns the boat asked for a copy of the pictures because no one who has every ridden her boat has ever eaten and digested live bait. - Guinness Book of World Records material, maybe?

On the camp front, today was Sunday so there were no work assignments for us; however, tomorrow we have to report to the "Mess Room" by 6am for breakfast, then pickup our work assignments, and be at the work site by 8:30am. Of course, Mr. Hood (our quarterback) doesn't want to take a chance on Megan and Jenna not showing up (can't get them up and, they're always "freezing"), so after this evening's orientation, he gathered us in a huddle to give the game instructions. Everyone has to be in bed by 10pm "Quiet Time" and up by 5:45am to report for duty at the mess hall. Although this was hard to swallow at first, when you come down here and see all the people who have come here from all over the country to help, and the devastation Katrina left behind, you just want to go out there and start working as soon as possible. You want to make a difference. As we drove to camp, we saw a church steeple sadly placed on the side of a road, perhaps waiting for volunteers to raise it back up. We also so miles and miles of destroyed beach front, decimated neighborhoods and very few construction site fully completed. So, disaster relief is still vital here. Sadly, people are still stuffering.

Lastly, please continue to pray for us. Tomorrow it's our turn to make a difference, and with God's help, we will accomplish much. We are excited about the opportunity to serve. For devotions, we have been reading portions of the book, Improving Your Serve by Chuck Swindoll. Today we read out of a section entitled, "Portrait of a Servant" and reflected on the Beatitudes. We learned of two attitudes found in true servants - dependence on God and strong compassion. It struck us that throughout this trip, we have had to truly depend on God - when we sat in the airport for 11 hours, when our flight was canceled, and now, when we have to trust and depend on God for guidance and strength in completing our job assignments. But the longer we're here, the more we're convinced that that's how God wanted it. Utter dependence and faith in Him, and Him alone, so we can really do HIS work at Camp Biloxi.

"Extreme dependence and strong compassion" is our new motto.

Tomorrow should be interesting. More news from team Biloxi to follow!

- Emily, Kirsti and Mrs. C