By Libby Eaton
Information Specialist, TBC
I saw Jesus today. Literally. He laughed, He sang, He cried, and He worked. Hard.
I was with 31 students from Belmont University and Tennessee Tech University. These students decided they would be the hands and feet of Jesus during their fall break from school. We all traveled to Baton Rouge, La., to serve as disaster relief volunteers for the victims of the devastating flood there on Aug. 12.
We left Tennessee Oct. 7 and headed to Walker, La., a suburb of Baton Rouge. Though they arrived at all hours of the night (and early morning) all of the students were present for breakfast at 7:00 a.m. in the fellowship hall of our host church, Judson Baptist Church in Walker.
All of the students completed the required courses to serve as DR “mudout” volunteers prior to arrival. Our on-site coordinator (or Blue Cap), Freddie Arnold, gave us a few safety reminders and told us about our assignments. “We are going to split up and work at two different houses,” Arnold said. “I’ve never worked with a group of young people this large, but I’m so excited to be a part of your decision to serve the folks of our community this way.” Arnold is a member of Judson Baptist Church and serves as the disaster relief coordinator for the Eastern Louisiana Baptist Association.
My group was assigned to a house in nearby Denham Springs where the homeowner had begun the work of cleaning out his home but was unable to finish. We later learned that he was also having to help his mother take care of her flooded home.
On site, Freddie gave our team specific instructions, and the group dove into action, donning gloves and dust masks required for jobs where mold is present. Our task was to remove all of the drywall from the home so that the studs were exposed. Once exposed, the house could be sprayed with “Shockwave,” a highly concentrated bleach that will kill the mold in the home allowing the house to be safely rebuilt.
The sound of hammers hitting pry bars filled the air. So did laughter, singing, and conversation as the students got to know one another. Our team worked from about 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and I never heard a single negative word or a single complaint. Not one. They eagerly looked for ways to help each other and to do what needed to be done to get the job completed.
Danita and her 5-year-old daughter, Lulu, came to the house as we were finishing up. “I can’t begin to thank you all for coming all the way from Tennessee to help my family. I am a blessed woman,” Danita commented. “I’m blessed because of all of the great people God has brought into my life as a result of this flood. Strangers continue to reach out to help. Black or white, it doesn’t matter,” she continued. “God has sent them all to help us.”
Lee Anne, a Tennessee Tech student, asked Danita if we could have prayer with her, and she eagerly agreed. So, we gathered in a circle and thanked God for His protection, and asked for His favor to be shown on our new friends.
Sunday we worshiped with Judson Baptist Church and then had some free time in New Orleans. The next day we again divided into two teams to serve two more families. And I will see Jesus again.