Thursday, October 20, 2005

Is This Guy a Nutcase?

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.


Anonymous said...

A person's perspective has a big influence on everything in their life. This is proof of that, I think. What I hear in his comment is a revelation of his true values and an expression of how they were in short supply before the storm.
This "natural disaster" gives opportunity for redirection in hundreds of thousands of lives (or more).

Which brings me to another thought; was Katrina simply a "natural disaster" or an "act of God"?? What about the earth quake in Pakistan or the tsunami? The perspective you take on it makes a huge difference in how you will react to it.

Either way, all of these events shake things up, remove the status quo, and force a re-evaluation of priority, a review of a person's (or a church's, or a community's)core values. An opportunity to see the "true colors" and determine how well we measure up to them.

I've heard it said that God cares more about your character than your comfort. I believe that's true. No, that guy is not a nutcase. He's in the midst of a crisis that for him, is reawakening hope. Maybe he didn't even know he'd let his hope slumber, or maybe someone or something squashed it into apathy, but the storm gave it back to him. And that is a very good thing.

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

The storm gave him back his hope! Wow! What a thought that is...and thank you for stopping in. I miss you.