My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Disaster Relief

Soooo much to blog about and Im soooo tired so this might not be my greatest literary work...

I left work early yesterday to go to the Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief certification.

In case you were wondering... the people in Haiti who were charged with smuggling kids out of the country were Baptists... but they were not operating under the guidance of the SBC and they were not one of our relief teams. More on that in a minute.

The conference was in Dacula which is about an hour from me. I rode down with two other ladies from my church... Cherie and Marilyn. Marilyn's daughter in law is my sweet friend Alisa who teaches our Wednesday night bible study.

We stayed at the Hampton Inn near the Mall of Georgia. Hotels will always remind me of Michael since I traveled more with him and stayed in more hotels with him than I did in all my hotel stays the whole rest of my life put together! Ironically... my friend Angie who roomed with me has the same bittersweet memories of HER second husband and hotels as he was a hotel manager. Also ironically... they lived at the Hampton Inn in Orange Park, Florida, just a stone's throw from Michael's mother's house... small world.

Friday night was the program introduction... three hours worth... but it was good, the state director is energetic and engaging and was an excellent speaker. The time flew by.

Today was orientation with our designated area of work. I chose child care... which was odd to me when I picked it because although I am *the best aunt ever*... the truth is... I'm not a kid person. Well... not like someone who might have chosen a career in that sort of thing. I couldn't do it day after day.

The odd thing was... in that way that God works things out ahead of us... it turns out that I picked the area that has the "deployments" closest to home (less travel cost, less time away) and the most likely to be deployed for a very short time - sometimes just one day assignments - and the area that is least likely to be first responders - in other words, lots of advance notice.

I can't go for long periods of time (now). I can't afford to travel long distances. I can't just drop everything and go in a moment's notice. So... child care is a great area for me to be involved with for now. In the future I can be cross trained and involved in other areas - as my availability changes. But, for the meantime... I can use skills I already have, near where I am, with the amount of free time I have. I'm very excited about that.

Duane asked me if this was something I intend to pursue full time. I don't believe I'm called to full time ministry. I just don't. I know that God presents divine appointments through my job and I believe that I'm supposed to do what I do. However, I know that I can be a much better steward of the free time I have - in a way that helps others and also helps me by getting me out and about. I know that I need to be more deeply invested in my community.

It is empowering to know that I am now, finally, strong enough to be able to give a hand to someone else instead of being the desperate, needy person. As the unit leaders for my group gave examples of situations they had been in... post Hurricane Katrina... taking care of refugee children at the Atlanta Airport... watching children as parents identified remains at the Walker County Crematorium debaucle... providing childcare for pastor's conventions... there were things that brought tears to my eyes. Fortunately... I'm the kind of person who can be strong when I have to be, can hold it together in a crisis and then have my meltdown privately, when appropriate.

It was interesting also, that they kept mentioning how reluctant people are to handle the registration station at the child care centers they set up. The paperwork is very detailed because you're taking in children you don't know and have to give them back to parents you don't know, frequently people who have lost their documentation such as IDs or birth certificates. It involves taking digital photos, printing them off and attaching to the child's file to identify who is allowed to pick the child up. I spoke with a team leader afterwards because I didn't understand why that was a problem. Apparently, this type of detailed administrative work is overwhelming to people who aren't used to it. I'm used to it. I fill out applications every day... we take photos and process them to be used with applications every day... so if I'm deployed, it will most likely be as a registrar. I'm WAAAAY cool with that. I'm used to dealing with people who are experiencing crisis situations.

I have no idea when I might be called... I have my official tshirt and ball cap and will get my credentials in the mail in the next few weeks... they do a phone tree announcement of deployment opportunities and you just check in and let them know if you can go. There were 880 new volunteers today, no doubt partly due to Haiti. It's a strong force of people and most of them are full time employed. Most people give a few days a year and it's not a big deal if you can't go... they don't stop calling you because you weren't able to go. They will also list what your availability is... for me it would be short time, close by, advance notice events. Anyways... I'm excited about it. I love being needed.

About Haiti... the Southern Baptist Convention has been sending medical teams in but not really anyone else at this point. The criteria for sending in volunteers includes being able to provide everything our teams are going to need so that they don't add to the burden of the disaster. In Haiti, it's not stable enough yet to send in those clean up or rebuild teams. The child care unit would go in to provide care while parents are cleaning up or working on rebuilding their homes or perhaps while the parents were waiting in line to obtain aid. None of that stuff is really happening yet so a child care team hasn't been deployed.

For me, I am not certified (yet) for international relief so I wouldn't be deployed to Haiti. One day, maybe. It would be a good way to see the world, wouldn't it? However, if they bring groups of people into the state of Georgia to relocate, it's likely that a child care team would be involved. There are endless possibilities...

This weekend was fun for me. I had dinner at chick fila before last night's meeting... (just a chickfila sandwich but it was SOOOO good!) but Angie had not had dinner so I went out with her so she didn't have to go alone. She is a single mom of four kids under 10 so she doesn't have a lot of grown up time. She had never been to Olive Garden so that's where we went. I had soup and an appetizer so I didn't do too bad. It was good to have time to get to know Angie better. Our stories are SOOOO similar - two husbands, first an alcoholic and then an adulterer. Time spent in Jacksonville away from our families that resulted in the destruction of our marriages. Struggling to make ends meet as a single mom. Being blessed to be a part of a church that takes care of it's own. Wanting to give back...

So there you go... we sat up LATE into the night talking... and I didn't sleep well... I was up at 5am. Once I got home this afternoon.... and picked up my Auggie-doggie from his cousin's house... I crashed and burned. I slept for two hours... and woke up with a horrible earache. I had a little soup and now I'm curled up in the nest.

It's raw and cold outside. We had snow flurries this afternoon but not accumulating snow. I'm exhausted and know I'll be back in bed soon. My new Beth Moore book came today - "So Long Insecurity"... can't wait to get started on it but don't want to read it while I'm so tired. Hope you're all having a great weekend and staying warm and dry...

love and hugs!


LYN said...


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