I started this blog to keep my church, friends and family updated on my year volunteering in Katrina recovery with the Presbyterian Church (USA). I've now signed on for a second year working in disaster recovery and another year living in Mississippi. It's getting good....

Friday, May 30, 2008


recovering from the worst sick ever.....much to share about my weekend home, Carrie and Jay's wedding, cute new shoes, LOST, more scary christian books, fun summer travel plans, and more.....but my tummy's still rumbling...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Poplarville, my Poplarville...

This Sunday, I decided to surprise my friend Sally-Lodge by showing up at her church for worship totally unannounced. Sally-Lodge is the pastor of a small church in Poplarville, MS. It's about an hour north-west of Gulfport, which basically puts the town in the beginning of the middle of nowhere Mississippi.

It was a total adventure for little miss suburbs over here.

First, I googled the church name. Of course they have no website. Then I went to the PC(USA) website to do a search on the church. It came up when I searched by town name and gave me an address. I google-mapped that address and set off on the road. I figured that a southern, country church service couldn't start before 10 am, so I thought I'd just drive out of town and bring some books and then I'd be ready to sit and wait a while.

It was a beautiful drive. Cow farm after cow farm. The weather in south Mississippi has been incredible this May- still with no heat, no bugs, no humidity. Most days this month, I've been concerned that the apocalypse is upon us, because weather like this just doesn't happen here in May. But on this Sunday, I loved it. When old people talk about going for a Sunday drive, I think this is the weather they have in mind. That was the drive they have in mind.

So, I wasn't paying much attention to the specifics of the directions and therefore wasn't worried when I rolled up on to a golf course. Then, I looked and discovered that I'd hit the last turn on the directions. The address for the church on the PC(USA) website was some one's home on a golf course. I wasn't near anything resembling a town or a church or Sally-Lodge. I was so bummed.

I got back on the road and stumbled upon a mom and pop gas station. They'd never heard of the particular church that I was seeking, but could list off a number of places where a nice girl like me could worship this fine Sunday.

Completely disappointed that my fun surprise was spoiled, I went on my way. I decided to take a different route home so that I would at least enjoy a new drive. Then I realized that I was going to drive right by downtown Poplarville. The church was supposed to be in Poplarville. I could try one more time. It was only 10:30 and there was still a chance that the service didn't start until 11.

I drove into town thinking, how many churches can there be in a tiny, start of the middle of nowhere Mississippi town?


It's the deep south. There are nine million churches for every 127 people. I saw a big one, and old one, a brick one, a stick one, a blue one, a red one, a green one, a cream one. Dr. Seuss would've loved this town. But no Presbyterian one. So, I gave up all over again and started winding my way out of the "downtown" area when I saw one of those little "Presbyterian Church this way" signs. I turned and drove one block and found the phantom Sally-Lodge church!!!!

I was so thrilled! Not only at my master bird-dogging skills or because the service DID start at 11, so I still had 15 minutes to spare, but because I was finally (FINALLY) after almost two years, going to be at Sally-Lodge's church.

It was awesome. There's nothing like seeing someone you love and respect do one of the things they do best. Watching her interact with her congregation was such a joy/learning experience. And the small group was so welcoming to me- this stranger from a foreign land.

AND! They had free food. One of my favorite things in the whole world is stumbling upon free food. There was a scheduled church picnic after the service. Church picnics have to be one of my favorite things about living in the deep south. Picnics, hot sauce, and sweet tea. And adventures in Poplarville. I'll add that to the list, now.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Take Two

I started trying to write a post about my week, but it just got long and lame and then way off subject. I decided to try again using just a list. So, in my favorite format, I present to you, my week:

A week of UPs!

-Cheered, danced, and celebrated with Kerry and a bunch of wild New Orleanians at the Hornets/Spurs playoff game 5. (Trombone-freakin'-Shorty was there! It was awesome!)

-Due to unexpected incident(s), had the pleasure of spending extra time at Olive Tree Village, which meant more fun with Kerry and the kittens.

-Enjoyed dinner with volunteers and village staff in Houma, LA.

-Visited all four of our active Volunteer Villages within 24 hours!

-Breakfast for Lunch with Virginia.

-Shared dinner with friends at a casino buffet. My FIRST since arriving on the coast! Why have I not done this before??? 3 hours of good conversation and tasty snow crab legs.

(Wonder why all my UPs involve food?)

A week of DOWNs!

-Learned that the Red Cross will be out of money for Katrina victims as of June 1. So many people still need help rebuilding!

-Extra time at Olive Tree Village wasn't all fun. Tough work and tough conversations. Extra bug bites from the motor home's bad screens/no AC problem.

-Communication struggles GALORE had me pulling out my hair.

-Realized that because I am always going to be a peace-maker (never a peace-keeper) I that means that I will often come across as a warring witch. Awesome.

-Endured an unsuccessful attempt at shopping for a dress to wear to my friend's wedding next weekend.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Okay, when I first saw this advertised on TV last week I thought it was completely ridiculous and wanted to post a link on my blog so all three people who still read this thing could laugh at the sad, sad state of TV reporting in New Orleans.

Wheel of Justice (click here)
You + Wheel + Dirtbags = Justice

Then, I watched some of the updates. This thing is actually assisting in catching criminals and making the post-Katrina streets of New Orleans safer every day.


So, BRAVO to you, WGNO!
And tsk, tsk to you, Counihan (even though you're still giggling a little)

Sunday, May 11, 2008


I've been incredibly blessed with smart, strong, talented, loving, and fun female role models my whole life- my sisters, friends, aunts, co-workers, teachers, roommates and neighbors. In a way, all of these women have mothered me and so I find today a great day to honor all of those incredible mother-influences in our lives. Sometimes we're good daughters and we say and do sweet things to honor our moms. A lot of the time, we're rotten whiners that just don't want to hear the lessons they have to share with us. And more than for any other reason (of which there are many, many), I admire my mom, the real one, the one who actually gave me life, so much for loving and supporting me when I am the brat as much as she does when I am a sweetheart. I suppose only a mother knows how to do that. But she does it. All the time. So you know, so its cool that she is brilliant and brave and faithful and adventurous and independent and warm and thoughtful and clever and strong and a good dancer and a good cookie-picker-out and whatever, but I am completely and always amazed at her capacity to love- to actively, aggressively and wonderfully love and love and love. I am so thankful to be a blessed recipient of all that love, all the time.
Cheers to you, ma!

Friday, May 02, 2008


This spring has been drenched in transitions down in PDAland. We've got staff and long-term volunteers turning over like leaves. This is the time of year when some folks come down to work with us for just two months or so. After all this time on the coast, and all this time working in this crazy industry, I still have a hard time with change and transitions. I have a hard time convincing myself to invest in someone who is only going to be here for a couple of weeks. I know that they need support and friendship and information and kindness, but please-it's only 8 weeks. Can't I just hand them a manual and a glass of sweet tea and get back to my work? Well, yes, Erin you can, if you want to be a brat about it.

My friend Brenna came to visit this past weekend. I had the great fortune of attending a meeting in Princeton about three weeks ago, so we had already done the whole catch up with what you're doing and what your summer plans might be thing. So this weekend, we got to transition back into just being friends again. Not visiting old friends. But friends who know each other and can sit and talk about anything or nothing. I hadn't realized how much I'd missed that. It was so great. I coulda drank it up. Like sweet tea, actually.

Some of you know, but many of you don't, that I have my own transition coming up pretty soon. I've decided on an end date for my service on the coast. I WILL BE LEAVING at the beginning of August. I have no idea what I will do next or where I will go, but I know that I've given all I have to this place and now I am a bit spent. It's going to be torture to leave, but I want to go before I make staying into torture as well. I'm so glad that I've been able to make this decision (with much careful thought, prayer, and conversation) early so that I have time to process this next transition before I bolt outta here.

Or so she says....