Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Flamingo Has Landed

I’m here at last. I arrived at the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance camp in Gautier, Mississippi about 4pm yesterday. I don’t have any pictures yet, mostly because I’ve been getting everything unpacked and set up. If I had any pictures to show you today it would be a picture of my co-manager pumping water out of the camp when I drove in yesterday afternoon. The water in our little low spot here in Gautier was almost up to the pod floors. This is about 3 or 4 inches because the pods are already set on top of 2X4 platforms.

For those not into disaster lingo, pods are the very special kind of tent that the PDA bought for all the camps. They’re made of corrugated plastic and have their pluses and minuses. One tiny minus is that they disintegrated after six months or so from exposure to the sun. But the manufacturer replaced those with a newer model that doesn’t fall apart and the new ones seem to be working out OK. The great benefit is that they can be heated in the winter and cooled in the summer—if you’re not too picky.

But what a difference I found this morning with the water pumped out and the sun shining! We’re on the edge of town and next to a pasture with cows grazing. And it really is nice outside right now. On the other side of the camp is a parking lot for FEMA trailers and there’s considerable traffic of trailers coming in and going out so it’s not totally wilderness. And about a block away is Interstate 10 so there’s more traffic noise than mooing.

The first thing I did this morning was run over a water pipe with my car. In my defense I was driving exactly where Mical, the co-manager told me to drive. And, no, that’s not a typo. Mical spells his name that way. He pronounces it Michael but his parents must have had a good imagination when it came to names. I’m not sure Mical really trusted me when I told him I could fix the broken pipe but he played along with me and got all the tools and supplies out for me then went off to mess with the water pump. I was really glad of the time a couple of years ago when I threw a fit with Beaven to show me how to work with PVC because, with his training, I knew exactly how to fix the pipe. And it hasn’t leaked yet so I must have done it right. PVC is about the most “female friendly” of household skills, mostly because the pipe is so light-weight that I never have any problem carrying it, cutting or holding it. It’s just the easiest thing in the world to work with. Except that now I have purple stains on my fingers from the PVC primer chemical. But, around here, purple fingers are almost as much a badge of honor as a purple finger after an election in Afghanistan.

However, I’m afraid that was the extent of showing off any skills for me today. I was handed a blackberry phone and I’m still a little afraid of it. It’s got e-mail inside it and all sorts of other mysterious stuff. The whole deal sounds very complicated but I figure I’ll eventually learn how to work it. How hard can it be to answer the phone?

The next thing will be to get me set up in the office on the computer. I need a password first and the previous manager changed hers then forgot it or something. So we’re going to have to talk to an actual real live IT person to get me up and running. But the phone number I call tells me my call is important to them and they’ll answer me when they get good and ready, etc. So I put that on the list of things to do tomorrow.

We’re not having a group until Friday, I think. So I’ll have a little time to learn these things.

I have a trailer about the size of the standard FEMA trailer. It fits me perfectly with not an inch to spare. But I don’t know how you could ever put more than one person inside one –especially to live for any amount of time. And I know that whole families of four or more have been living inside trailers the size of mine for over two years now. When I went to undress last night I had to step into the kitchen to take my jeans off. I’m not kidding. But it’s a coziness that suits me. It reminds me of Thoreau’s instructions to “Simplify.” I have room enough for a bed but nothing else in the bedroom. I have room enough in the kitchen to make coffee and eat cereal but not much else. I have a shower but Mical has already told me none of the managers use the shower in their trailer. The shower trailers outside in camp have more room and more hot water. There is a kitchen table to hold this computer and a small TV hooked up to cable. Life isn’t bad at all. I have exactly what I need.

It reminds me of the Children’s Story I told a couple of Sundays ago from Isaiah 65-“Before they call I will answer.” God had provided me with exactly what I needed before I even knew what I needed.

God is good-- All the time.

Pictures next week, I promise. OK, here's one of my plumbing job. I couldn't resist.

1 comment:

Ann said...

Jane,

Everything I wrote disappeared into wherever it goes, so ...

You inspire me, my friend! May your good work let people know God's love and the grace and peace that our Lord Jesus Christ gives us.

I have always enjoyed our short visits at SYW and have deepened my faith by the words and actions you have shared.

Do good work and know that your have faithful prayers walking with you each step of your new way.

Blessings,

Ann Stites