Thursday, November 08, 2007
The Work Continues
We have expanded the ministry to Pearlington. For more information on trips and the ongoing needs, go to http://hopeingod.wordpress.com/
We would love to see you on one of these trips!
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Thanksgiving in Pearlington - 2006
My family made our second trip to Pearlington over Thanksgiving week. Sometimes when you go back to a place, you leave disappointed because you now have expectations. This trip was not one of those trips. It was one where we stood back in amazement and watched God work.
It has taken me some time to process this trip because of the amazing things that God did while we were there. I am just now finding the words to describe that trip!
The week before we left, I should have been making phone calls to finalize some details for the trip. After all we were taking others down with us, we should really look like we know what we are doing! However on Monday of that week, I received a phone call from the hospital informing me that the surgeon wanted to move my youngest daughter's surgery up - 4 weeks. This meant that her surgery would be 2 days after we would be getting back from Pearlington.
So instead of making phone calls to Pearlington, I was taking my daughter to doctor's appointments, looking for people to take the other kids during the week I would be in the hospital with my youngest, etc. I thought that the Lord had really gone out of his way to derail my plans and then I was reminded of Proverbs 16:9 - "In his heart, man makes his plan, but God directs his steps." It was very obvious that God was redirecting my steps, but I could not understand why. I was thinking about this all week. I could not imagine why God would take such drasctic steps, at least in my mind, to redirect my steps.
It wasn't until we were driving down to Pearlington that God began to reveal some new thoughts to me. Here is what I wrote in my journal, on Sunday - the second day of our drive to Pearlington, " When I should have been putting the final touches on the Pearlington trip, God redirected my steps to prepare for an upcoming surgery for my daughter. It makes me think that God must have something planned that I could not have thought of and therefore could not plan for. I will need to be watchful over this next week to see what God does. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly more abundantly than I could think or ask - to Him be glory."
As I watched God unfold the events of the week, I was amazed at the things he did - things that I would never have imagined -
*things like using my web blog as a way to inspire others to come and minister along side of us - what a blessing to meet Betty and Caby.
*The thank you notes written by the children were used to make a man who has been in Pearlington for many months feel appreciated and loved
*Flowers picked by the girls and left with notes for the cook on a bad day made him feel appreciated.
Wow - only God could orchestrate those types of things. I am humbled that he would chose to use 3 families in such ways.
I have frequently been asked if it was worth it, taking children ranging in age from 6-15 into a disaster area. The children give the best answers to this question:
"This was the best thanksgiving ever! We need to come back here every year for thanksgiving."
"Mrs. Ayers, can you plan another trip so that we can stay longer."
But this response reveals the heart of these kids the best. We were driving back into Minneapolis after dark. The lights of the city were spread out before us. One of the girls began to cry and the others gathered around her and asked her what was wrong. Her answer sums up all of our feelings - "Minneapolis is so big, Pearlington is so small. We have so much, they have nothing."
Pearlington has a big God looking over them and doing amazing things. I am thankful to be a part of His plan for this small community that He has used to touch my heart in a significant way.
This was the last picture that we took while on the the trip. It was taken as the sun was setting on the beach - the sun's rays appear to make a cross. It was as if God was saying Yes to all that we had done.
Yes, it was worth it to bring these children with their parents into this disaster area at this time. I saw God at work in and through these families and He was glorified.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
The Best Thanksgiving
This has been the best Thanksgiving I've ever had. I can think of no better way to spend my Thanksgiving than to serve others and be in Pearlington.
I think one of the biggest highlights of the week was meeting people. Here's a few of the people I met and got to know well:
Jacqui and Ashley
These two girls are sisters. I met Ashley when she was helping us in the Pearl*Mart. Her dad was down in Pearlington working with a ministry called Walls of Hope. It was really fun to meet Ashley and eventually Jacqui. We hung out a few times at the end of the week. We had lots of fun. It was hard to say goodbye.
Betty and Kabe
This couple read our blog and were inspired to come down to help during Thanksgiving also. We painted with them all week. We got to know them really well. It was really hard to say goodbye.
Jonathan was the grandson of a couple who we helped paint their house. I started talking to him first and then Geoffrey (who is the same age as Jonathan) started playing with him. I heard he was rough with the boys (which is what boys like to do, right?), but I couldn't believe it. He would come up and start talking to me. We took a group picture and he came and put his arm around me and curled right up next to me. I thought he was really cute. It was hard to say goodbye to him, as it was most everyone.
Holly is the daughter of the family we helped out last time. I didn't get to spend as much time with her as I would have liked. I found out later that she wanted me to spend the night with her. I wish I could have spent the night. She was a fun girl and it was hard to drive right by their house on our way out of Pearlington, not having spent enough time with her.
We met TONS of other people, but these were the people who I'll miss the most.
I think the hardest part of the week was saying goodbye. Thanksgiving was a day of goodbyes, as we knew we wouldn't see most of them in the morning, due to our early departure. I hate goodbyes.
I've been asked if I want to go back to Pearlington. That's a no-brainer. DEFINATELY, POSITIVELY, ABSOLUTELY, WITHOUT DOUBT YES! I think there's a part of me that will always be in Pearlington. There's no way I could take it with me. I feel so much at home in Pearlington. My heart will always be in Pearlington. (Posted by Courtney-Team Member)
Friday, November 24, 2006
God has a sense of humor
At our very first bathroom stop on the Sunday we were traveling to Pearlington, we had a surprise. The bathrooms were "Under construction" and the business had brought in port-a-pottys for their customers to use. These were very post port-a-potties. There were large - three or four people could fit into these with no problems. There were sinks with paper towels and they were heated!!! The kids loved these.
Once we were back to the van - I told the kids that they would not have port-a-potties like these in Pearlington. Some of the kids learned that visiting the ones in Pearlington at 3 AM was a very cold adventure.
The weather in Pearlington, upon our arrival was cold - temps were in the 30's at night and the frist few days in the 40's and 50's during the day. Larry Randall accused us of bringing the cold weather with us. "It is never this cold here," he said. I just smiled and said that we wanted them to know what we live with for 5 months of the year. He laughed and said, "Be sure to take this with you when you leave." By thanksgiving day - it was warm and bright with sunshine.
There are all kinds of critters in Pearlington - some that you like to see and some that you wish would just go away. I now know what I would do if an unwanted four-footed, furry creature tries to snuggle in with me for the night. Praise the Lord, I didn't scream, I just hit the thing really hard out of my bed. The biggest fear was that I knocked it into my back pack - which didn't happen. Thankfully it never tried again!!!
Sunday, November 19, 2006
We Have Arrived
We are all tired - but safe and were greeted warmly. Laurie remembered us and was very excited to see Giovanna.
When we got the vans up near the school - there was an older couple that greeted us and helped us unpack the vans, get things set up in our room. It felt like they had been waiting for us. Later we found out that their names are Mr. Cabe and Miss Betty from Memphis. While we were getting dinner ready in Pearl's Cafe (It was so much fun to stand on the floor we had put together in March and all the ktchen things in place!!!), Cabe came down to the kitchen and shared that they had read about us coming down. He and his wife didn't have any real plans for Thanksgivng and decided to come to Pearlington. Our team, he said was the inspiration for them coming to Pearlington over Thanksgiving week.
God is already doing things with this group of kids. I think He has plans for us this week.
Friday, November 17, 2006
24 Hours Until Pearlington
"Calm down Courtney!"
These are words of wisdom. We leave tomorrow. Right now I'm mentally running through the million-object list to make sure I've packed everything. My mind is cluttered with mental notes, my desk with sticky ones. I'm hoping Dakota's doing ok. I'm worrying about missing classes. French phrases are running through my mind. I smell like horses. I have kissing and clucking commands in my head. It's been a long day.
To make it worse, we had small group tonight. I went. It's been a late night.
Needless to say, I'm frantic and stressed. But even though I may not feel ready, God's got everything in control. He knows if I'm going to forget my toothbrush (which by the way is packed). He knows what the weather's going to be like in Pearlington (debate in my mind: flannel pajamas? No, too hot. But it was March when we last went. Warmer then. Long-sleeved nice shirt? No, too cold for that. But it's November now. Colder now...). He knows all my fears and worries. I'm so glad. I couldn't take it without him. He'll take good care of me. He sees the big picture, when I only see a little piece of it. He knows what he's doing. I can't wait for Pearlington. (Posted by Courtney - Team Member)
Sunday, November 12, 2006