This is just one more, hopefully short, entry about "Camp Katrina" in Waveland, Mississippi.
The Katrina victims are very much on my mind because later today I will be shipping about 35 gift boxes for kids to Debra Callahan, my partner in face painting. Her church in Tennessee is sending some people down to Waveland to the K-Mart parking lot, aka Camp Katrina.
There is going to be a "Trunk or Treat" party at the distrubution center where kids will go to car trunks, apparently, for various treats. There will be lots of fun stuff for them to do. I wish I could be there, but Deb promises to give me lots of details. The Convoy of Hope has left Waveland and gone on to Picayune and elsewhere, but the Waveland Store and the New Waveland Cafe continue unabated, largely through the efforts of Christian Life Church. What this church and staff have been able to accomplish is nothing short of totally amazing.
Anyway, this morning as I got ready to go pack up our boxes (Thank you, church family at Jubilee) I remembered the crazy guy. I admit that the title of this blog entry is just what I thought when I first saw him.
He came up to the face painting table in the middle of a hot and steaming day. I was alone at the table for the moment, feeling depressed and drained. About 55 years old, with a white beard and a big smile, he was dressed in hiking boots, filthy shorts and a T shirt that was once white. He was about to enter the distrubution center for some supplies. His eyes crinkled as he grinned at me, waved his arms, and said gleefully, "Isn't this wonderful?" His speech sounded...well...sounded cultured. I guessed that he was perhaps a business person. Had been, anyway.
I was literally speechless, so said nothing. Again he gazed about and then grinned and said, "This is fabulous." I looked around too. I saw a long line of exhausted and shocked people, mostly silent (including the children). I saw bare, twisted trees, broken buildings, the filthy pavement, piles of trash, a demolished McDonalds, National Guard troops. Finally I manged to smile and say, "What, sir, is wonderful?" He waved his arms like a windmill and crowed happily, "This! Just look! Look! Look at this line of people, look at this wonderful 'cafe' and 'store.' And look at all you wonderful people coming here from all over the place to help us. Aren't people wonderful?" (I had just heard about some hoarding going on, and I was none too sure that people are wonderful.)
He went on, "You are wonderful, doing face painthing for our children. And people are giving us things for FREE! And my neighbors, who have not spoken to me for years, crawl out of their tent in the morning as I crawl out of my tent...and they say, 'Hey neighbor, are you all right over there? Are you doing okay?' People are sharing and caring and loving and talking and this is WONDERFUL!" He nodded and smiled at me once more as he headed into the distrubution tent, pushing a K-Mart cart.
He made my day!
Pehaps now I can start thinking and blogging about something else.