Dear friends, miracles continue to happen on the Gulf Coast. Here are three items of breaking news (and private disclosures) of events over the last few days: 1) GKK's last meal; 2) NoAH's new and undisclosed location; and 3) the Mystery Mansion which will house Katrina volunteers for a time.
The Missing Tent:
About mid-day July 31, kitchen volunteers took down the red-and-white striped tent that has been the landmark for the GKK feeding facility for almost two years. The cross that sat behind the lectern in the tent still calls out, Cast Your Burdens Here.
With most of the tables folded up, volunteers sat in a circle on the concrete to eat their luncheon meal. Strong showers visited us during the evening meal, when volunteers and public alike huddled inside the kitchen with the cooks.
The press corps has been near and among us constantly: here a reporter for the SunHerald wraps up her 3-day visit talking with visitors to the Kitchen. If her story appears online, I will post it here.
*NEWS FLASH* On Tuesday, WLOX TV did a story on the shutdown which included an interview with our own NoAH volunteer Van. That video may be found here:
Meanwhile, across the street the permanent staff was loading up the first of the volunteer bunk houses to be moved into storage on a local church property, until they can be pressed into use under the ministry umbrella of that local church.
A Cottage for Noah:
Little more than a week ago, Fr. James told me that they'd been looking at a site where one could house some 50-60 volunteers already scheduled through the month of August, and that (get this) there were one or two buildings on the site that could be converted into cottages to house the NoAH program.
On my first visit there, the property seemed like an overgrown jungle. Here is the cottage being prepared for us (dead center of the photo, really!), hidden by the bushes.
The building consists of two rooms, one quite large and the other a former garage. Drywall was already in the first room, and the second was waiting to be righted, for the hurricane had tilted the endwall six inches off center.
By the next day, volunteers had painted the first room, insulated the second room, and had scurried about to find a large and beautiful window to add grace and light to the building.
Then by the following day they had righted the building and begun framing in a wall in place of the former garage doors. All of the buildings on this site had 12 feet of water in them during Katrina.
The downstairs may be used to house 50 or 60 Katrina relief volunteers at a time, while the upstairs can be used for overflow.
Between the house and the garage is a large open air pavilion, where volunteers can be fed out of the rain. (Dinner on Tuesday was almost rained out without the tent.)
Here is a large interior room of the lodge graced by a fireplace.
The lumber on the floor is the makings of bunkbeds that have been disassembled and moved from the Camp Avenue site.
The back window of the Mystery Mansion opens onto a spectacular veranda, which may indeed earn this property the title of Sanctuary.
We're hoping to have NoAH moved into the cottage and have the volunteer feeding operations up and running at the new site this week. Stay tuned.