Building blessings in Christ

Even though it&8217;s been almost two years since Hurricane Katrina unleashed its destruction on the Gulf Coast, churches are finding there is still so much left to do.

Church members from Valleydale Baptist spent five days helping the process along for the Lemoyne Baptist Church in Ocean Springs, Miss.

&8220;They had eight feet of water, and after they rebuilt their church, money just kept coming in to help people, so they just took it on that was what God would have them to do,&8221; said member Delana Long. &8220;The people they minister to needed new homes. They don&8217;t have one; it&8217;s just a slab.&8221;

Long and her family began going to the Gulf Coast to help rebuild lives of those affected not too long after the storm. After their experiences, leaders at Valleydale Baptist asked them to plan mission trips so other church members could help as well. So far, members have made four trips to the coast taking more than 50 people down to put in some hard labor.

The last trip included 17 members who worked for five days on a variety of projects. Some sheet-rocked walls while others painted ones already finished. Other volunteers put up insulation or siding. They even built sheds for each house.

Long said it was neat to see that she was the 3,469 volunteer, and the trip itself was a blessing for her.

&8220;They want you to be a part of their lives,&8221; Long said. &8220;They want you to understand.&8221;

It takes $40,000 for the church to rebuild a home with volunteer labor. But for the labor, volunteers receive materials, equipment, food and shelter, not counting the many blessings they feel they come back with.

Brenda Stone has made three of the four trips to the coast. She said each time she has come back with a new blessing.

&8220;We went down there to do physical work and help rebuild, but the most important thing I did was listen,&8221; Stone said. &8220;Sometimes, the most important thing a person needs is a sounding board or someone to empathize with them.&8221;

The volunteers not only learned to listen but picked up other valuable skills. Stone said she can now hang sheet rock, tile floors, measure and cut waterproofing paper and paint while standing on a 12-foot ladder.

Church members plan to return sometime this year