.. Arriving at God's Katrina Kitchen in Pass Christian, Mississippi,
I was put up in one of the six bunks in the leftmost cabin shown here. I began working with folks who did not fit the profile that the Kitchen was helping most, that is, home-owners with devastated houses. Most of these others were homeless, many were addicted to alcohol or drugs, and some were violent. Allowing these folks to camp nearby had been a disaster.
James looked at me with a look that said, "What took you so long to get here?" Then he looked around the bunkhouse and said, "We can put five of them in here with you." I looked around the tool-shed-sized cabin and said, "I'm going to need an office." (James later repented: we would bring no more than 3 men into those cramped quarters.) The following days were filled by meetings with homeless people in desperate situations, some of them the victim of lawless violence and attempted murder. Within two weeks I knew: this was where God was calling me: no doubt at all.
.. So now it was time to make a run to California to get the rest of my stuff (i.e., my theological library) out of my mother's garage, before she moved north. On the way west, I stopped and visited with Church Army's Captain Bob Dudley, a Lakota Sioux living near Albuquerque with his Navajo wife. Bob is a native dancer, and disciples Native Americans in how to live a Christian life while recovering their native heritage.
While in California, I visited Saint James Anglican and set up a booth at their community fair, with photos of the devastated Gulf Coast.
Here is Fr. Richard Menees at the fair giving away rides in his new-found red toy.
On Sunday I attended all three services and manned a Gulf Coast information table outside the door, then it was time to drive back to Mississippi.
. I was determined to find a way to avoid the dread 800-mile tip-to-tip trip across Texas, so I turned left at El Paso and headed for New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle. I was startled to see these majestic cliffs in the distance, glowing purple by the light of the setting sun, creating their own misty weatherclouds in the lee of the balmy west wind. .. ..
On the eastern slope of Guadalupe Peak there is a National Forest campsite where I threw out my sleeping bag and woke to the sound of redbreasted robins.
Carlsbad Caverns was spectacular, but in its subdued interior lighting, photography was next to impossible. Here is a trailside grotto,1200 feet below the surface.
In Mississippi, the town of Pass Christian had been maneuvering behind the scenes to convince God's Katrina Kitchen to move on. We had had our eye on a beachside site in lovely Long Beach, or even on the nearby Walmart site. But by the time I returned, our choices were narrowing. God was closing the door on the lovelier sites and opened the door wide on a site in Gulfport, just two blocks from a notorious "red zone" known for its prolific drug traffic.
Here is my first view of our new site in Gulfport. The concrete apartment building is all that remains of a complex of 5 or more apartments of similar size, reduced to mere slabs by shipping containers and barges tossed ashore. Across the street (at right) is an RV resort converted into a FEMA trailer ghetto. .. Next (and final) post in this series:
Great Leap Epilogue--the People and the Places.