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....

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Eddie and I have been enjoying some amazing weather this weekend!
We've learned that laying around in the sun and the breeze is a great way to procrastinate.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I am so lucky...

....to have such amazing people in my life.

Tonight was incredible. I'm in Princeton, NJ for a meeting of the PDA National Response Team. I've been fortunate enough to meet some incredibly involved Presbyterians who have a passion for helping people in need. I have so much to learn from them.

We had a break for dinner, tonight, though, so I joined my pal Brenna for a night out. She's in seminary here and it has been quite convenient that my conference put me in her back yard. We spent the afternoon touring New Hope, PA- shopping, laughing, drinking and eating. At dinner we discussed everything from the human understanding of a tangible/physical heaven to issues surrounding christian sexuality while also wandering around in conversation to make sure we had time to spend gossiping about the time lines of our friends' love lives.

Then I ended up bumping into a Gulf Coast mission trip/Facebook friend in the Princeton Seminary housing facility and we spent the wee hours of the night pouring wine over plastic cups of ice while exploring ideas for local church missions, training opportunities for political community involvement, and the educational and sociological benefits of photography and art.

I'm not sure what forces of heaven and life put me in this place at this time, but gee, it seems to fit.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I am very aware that there is a designated starting date for spring marked on all of our calendars on March 21st. However, to me that day is my friend Emily's birthday, not some grand change of season. Spring in my life has always been marked by signals you don't find on the calendar.

Back home in the MD, I knew it was Spring when the cherry blossoms arrived all over town and when everyone got to grumbling about how bad the Orioles were going to be- again.

In college I knew it was Spring when everyone and their mom took to studying outside on the Bashford lawn. I mean, "studying".

In Colorado I knew it was Spring when the slopes were full of glove-shells-only skiers. No liners, no coats, no face masks, no helmets.

Last year, I knew it was Spring in Mississippi when all the dudes in town started driving their pick-up trucks (seemingly suddenly, but all on the same day) SHIRTLESS!

This year, I discovered that Spring had arrived when I was stirred by Eddie the dog chasing the first cockroach of the season in my trailer.

It's always something. Hurray for SPRING!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Make way for the REBIRTH!

Folks who know Jazz/Brass (or who have spent any time at any festival in the greater new orleans area) know that the headline of this post comes from one of the great Rebirth Brass Band songs (featuring my fav: Kermit Ruffins). That song gets everyone I know up and shaking every time. Tonight, my heart was up and shaking, but there was no brass band to be found. My heart was shaking with joy for the rebirth of St. Peter's by the Sea.

After Katrina, St. Peter's By The Sea Episcopal Church looked like this:

Now, it looks like this:

I've worshiped with the congregation of St. Peter's for more than a year and a half. They are a strong and inspirational bunch of survivors. After the storm took most of their church building and many of their homes, they came back to rebuild. Tonight, I had the great pleasure of joining them to celebrate the consecration of their newly rebuilt church. The Bishop lead the nearly 2 hour service and every pew in the house, plus folding chairs, was full! I can't believe how fortunate I was to witness such joy, such relief. The rebirth!

As they say at St. Pete's:
God is great. ALL THE TIME.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

No people, no cars, and I mean it.

How does it fly by? The weeks continue passing and I hardly seem able to keep up. It amazes me how busy we stay down here (which is a great thing!) and how after my 19 months on the coast, my workload doesn't diminish at all. Every week brings a scramble to find jobs, materials, funds, volunteers, permits, etc. EVERY WEEK! Why we can't seem to find a system to keep from scrambling, I will never understand. I love systems and trust me, if there were one that would make sense of this work I'd be all over it. But no one has been able to find said successful system yet, so the scramble continues.

All that is to say that the by the time the weekend arrives I am desperate for some down time. Down time for me used to be skiing, camping, hiking and general merriment with a big ole gang of friends. Now, clearly there's no skiing or hiking here, and since I basically camp every night, that's been out too. But the shocker is that hanging with friends no longer constitutes down time for me. I'm totally fried on people lately. The blackberry on my hip and it's constant buzzing seems to have some effect on my desire to socialize. Daily, I go from meeting to meeting where I listen to a near constant barrage of information and updates coming from a handful of mono-tone voices. Then via phone, email, or personal encounter that intrudes into my Erin face space, I listen to questions and comments from long term volunteers. Sprinkled throughout the day, at the office, at the grocery store or driving down the highway, I listen to homeowners sharing their problems and frustrations. Then, while eating dinner, walking the dog, or stepping in or out of the porta-potty, I listen to complaints from our one-week volunteers.

I am committed to my job and our mission down here, but I come Saturday afternoon, my ears are spent. So now, my weekend downtime usually involves me and some serious time with my trailer couch and some season of Gilmore Girls on DVD. Is this what's best for my mind, my body or my social life- um, well, no. For my sanity- yes. It seems to be working now.

If only I can come up with some ideas for how not to get so sick of driving....