Herald Journal Columns
March 13, 2006, Herald Journal

My experience in Waveland, Miss.


By Kristen Miller

Staff Writer

I left Minnesota with the idea of helping others get their lives back, but in the end I got mine.

I’ve always been a Christian, but now I’m on a whole new level. I found that God was everywhere in a town that had nothing.

The strength and graciousness of the people I’ve met was admirable. I’m not sure how I would be after losing a home and everything I had.

I can only hope I would have the strength and patience of the people of Waveland, Miss.

Many people may have asked, “Why did God let this happen,” but if disasters like this never happened, there would be no reason for people to help.

God tests our Christian ways. One of my new friends explained to me, that some may think sin is doing something wrong, but it is also doing nothing at all.

I’ve never been on a mission trip. I had always been scared to leave my comfort zone even for a week. We get so caught up in our own lives, we tend to forget about others.

The day after our arrival, we stopped at a Wendy’s in Waveland. With more than 20 people in line and several wearing the T-shirts and hats made by Embroidery Plus, one lady just said ‘thank you’ to us. At first I thought it was because I held the door for her, but then it hit me. She was so appreciative to all that have given their time to help people like her in need.

I’ve made several friends not only from the camp but a few of the locals as well.

It was Ash Wednesday and I wanted to experience a southern Catholic Church. My friend Lauren from camp hooked me up with her friend Shirley who is in her 60s and living in a FEMA trailer while her house gets rebuilt. We went and ate at a soup kitchen, where Miss Shirley goes to socialize since there are limited options in Waveland. Then we went to St. Rosa De Lima’s to service.

Afterwards, I thought she would be anxious to get rid of me and head home, but instead she drove me around showing me the area. It’s really scary at night. Miss Shirley is now a lifelong friend of mine.

Everyone was so kind. It’s true what they say about southern hospitality.

Another fellow volunteer said to me, “I was there to bless others, but in turn I was blessed tenfold.”

One can’t imagine the devastation Katrina has caused until they are there to witness it. It happened six months ago, but it is far from being over.

I was lucky to be able to experience camp. Every night, we were prepared a meal and we visited with other camp members. Then, we participated in worship with songs and prayers. Anyone who wanted to could give testimonies from what they experienced during the day. Several of the stories made me cry.

What was so amazing in the stories, were the way God showed up in everyone of them.

I was never an active Christian before I left and I certainly never listened to any Christian music except for church songs on Sunday. But after a few days of singing, I requested a CD for myself.

Returning back home was difficult for me. It’s hard to be in a nice home and in a nice community where everyone has a home and is comfortable.

I called my friend Lauren (playing keyboard) how I was struggling. She told me, “you have the CKV (Camp Katrina Virus)” because once you’re there, you never want to leave.

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