Today a dear, dear friend from my Colorado days wrote and asked me how things were going down on the Gulf Coast. As she is such a dear friend, trusted mentor, and spiritual rock, I quickly jotted back the most honest answer to that question that I've shared with anyone not working on the Gulf Coast. It felt so good to get that out, that I thought I'd share it here. I've left out the juicy Boulder County Gov't gossip and details about Z's dog, but here is my most honest answer...
Things here are alright. It's been a tough year. This working in a disaster zone business is not easy. Every bit of the work is emotional, personal and messy. People are over-worked, underpaid and have no support....reminds me of government work sometimes. Except minus the structure. There's no structure here. I love structure. Somehow I still believe that structure can breed flexibility by giving you that base line from which to begin. We don't have a baseline down here. And I know it seems odd to call it a disaster zone after almost a year and a half, but it just is. There is still so much work that needs to be done...so many homes to rebuild and not enough time, volunteers or money to get it all done as fast as we'd hope. The obstacles are huge and I find them everywhere. I have yet to feel like I've really helped anyone. Red tape is everywhere and then no where at the same time, if that's possible. The experts plan too much and don't leave room for exceptions or flexibility. The newbie volunteers don't have enough experience to do things efficiently or even well sometimes. It becomes, over and over again, the blind leading the freaking blind.
But people still need help and some one has to show up and to try to do it.
So it is messy. Most days I don't know if I am (we are) helping or hurting myself or others. I'm trying to have faith that God leads me (us) the right way in most of this and that when I (we)miss Her directions, she'll leave room for grace, and take care of those who suffer because of my (our) ignorance/arrogance/confusion.
But with all of that, I am continuously surprised at how much I love living down here. The folks are so friendly, the Gulf and beaches are beautiful, the food is fantastic, they have festivals all the time, and some one placed me with some pretty wonderful roommates.
I never thought I'd be able to live in the South, but I am actually considering staying for a bit longer than my one year commitment- if not only to enjoy this beautiful and fun nook of the South a bit longer.