Mission of Mercy
After sharing a pot of Starbucks coffee, Shari Crooks, Cathy Young, Jeanette Lawson, and I pulled away from Shari's Huntsville, Alabama home on September 9, 2005three homeschool moms and a nurse on a mission to a hurricane-devastated town we'd never heard of to help a community we didn't know.
Our adventure began four days earlier as I watched a mother trapped at the Superdome in New Orleans cradling her wailing baby and screaming desperately into the news camera, "Get us out of here!" I wanted to hijack a big rig, fill it with supplies, and head up my own one-woman rescue mission to the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast.
But what would I do with my three boys (Josiah, nine, Eric, six, and Cameron, three)? Where would I get supplies? With so many people needing help, where would I start? I decided God would have to use someone better suited for such a mission. I'd just write a check and be done with it.
But the images kept haunting me even after I turned off my television: a message scrawled on a roof, "diabetic, need insulin or will die"; a grown man tearfully describing how Katrina's violent flood waters stole his wife away.
But what could I, a busy, financially strapped mother, do? In Galatians 6:10, the apostle Paul said, "As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." I began to pray for an opportunity to help.
I awoke the next day to find a message in my e-mail in-box from Shari Crooks and Cathy Youngtwo moms from my homeschool support group. They wanted me to go with them to deliver desperately needed supplies to the people of Perkinston, Mississippi, 25 miles north of the Coast. Cathy heard about the community through Gene Daniels, a Southern Baptist pastor she found through an Internet search on Gulf Coast churches. He told her of his town's plight: The military food rations FEMA provided were too hard for the older people to chew and too salty for toddlers, they didn't have enough water or cleaning supplies to begin restoring their broken homes, and some people had been wearing the same underwear for more than a week. He said it was even worse farther south in Gulfport. As I finished reading the e-mail, James 1:27 came to mind: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress."
I started packing that evening and sent out an army of e-mails imploring others to help. Huntsville Hospital donated 23 boxes of linens and hospital gowns; the Church at Hampton Cove let us dig through donations they'd already collected. Jeanette Lawson, a nurse from the hospital that donated the linens, joined our team.