Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas!

Hello everyone! Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays!

Well, I am sitting in the Denver airport, waiting for a flight to take me to Wichita. I was supposed to get there yesterday around 11am but instead will arive tonight around 7pm. It's been quite the travel experience but I am staying positive. I think in times like this, when weather makes it difficult to get from one place to another, it is important to remember it is out of our control! There is nothing that I can do and therefore I should not stress out about things. I have definitely had a lesson in living in the present the past couple of days. :)

Some good news: It poured like crazy all day Thursday and neither of the roofs we built had any leaks, so that is great!!! Unfortunately, Thursday was when I was going to take all of my pictures, so I didn't get around to that with the craziness, so I'll have to get those when we return in January.

Way back at the end of CTI, there was a talent show. One of the Corps Members, Anthony, performed a song that he wrote about AmeriCorps, so if you'd like to check it out (and I definitely suggest you do!), here is the link. I think it's a great song, regardless of whether you're in AmeriCorps or not!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFxOVPKsBHg
(you'll have to copy/paste the address b/c i can't get the link to work, sorry!)

I am excited to get back to Biloxi on the 2nd to start work again. I can't believe I just left, although it is definitely time for a break. There will be 60-115 volunteers per week living with us in the church throughout January...it's a "blitz-build" month. We're going to get so much done!

I am wishing everyone a joyful holiday season, and I hope you are with those you love. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

coming together

It's hard to believe I have been here for almost 3 weeks. Our team has accomplished so much...digging, siding, roofing... bonding with each other. It's been so great!

Libby and I finished the roof today (different one than in the pictures)...we saw this one from the beginning to the end. It was quite the trial, as the house is not exactly equal in its dimensions...one side of the roof is longer than the other, and even one side is not even with itself! Ahhh! This led to many the frustration...but we made it through! I am very proud of Emily, Libby and myself because we had little direction from Peter (our boss, basically). I truly feel like I know how to do something now!

Anyhow, I am headed to Kansas on Saturday and I am pretty excited for a break from work. It's going to be a lot colder than what I have been experiencing as of late. I think this will be the first Christmas that I will be tan...in quite a few years. Woohoo!

I guess there's not too much to say, just that I've been experiencing more fun each day, learning the ropes of construction, and I am excited for Christmas!

If I don't post before...Happy Holidays, everyone! I hope you are all safe and sound with family and/or friends...and your hearts are filled with peace. Love you!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

rock out

Here are some photos from the house I put roofing on and dug out underneath...and "relaxation time" last saturday


This is the first day...and that's me up on the roof!


About to visit "push up city" with Libby


The area that we dug out...I think this is after we were done because it looks really good...


Oh, and here is me unloading dirt!


WE ARE FINALLY DONE!!!! I know the pile doesn't look too big from this picture...but it was huge. Really.


Aaaaand this is the caulking group. Aren't we bad ass??


Here we are heading out to the water! Isn't it a beautiful beach?


Relaxing a bit on Saturday night...Joe, Maggie, and Me!


Wee! Fun!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

weee



Yay for Natalie Dee!



The roof I have been working on was finished by some of my teammates today and I got to start on a new one! In the morning, I kicked out some old window frames, which let out a lot of aggression--not really sure where it came from, but it was great!

I believe tomorrow we are going to a house dedication, which should be pretty great. It's awesome to see a family get the key to their new home.

Everything keeps rolling along here in Biloxi. I can't believe that Christmas is almost upon us. I've got some serious shopping to do!

Monday, December 10, 2007

bursts






If you hold on to the handle, she said, it's easier to maintain the illusion of control. But it's more fun if you just let the wind carry you.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

thick air

IT's 75 degrees with 86% humidity. My goodness, I am happy not to be here when it is 100% humidity because even this is an experience for a Northwesterner like myself!

For our ISP today, we worked with ULM (Urban LIfe Mission) handing out food, household supplies like pots and pans, and toiletries. We literally set up shop on the side of the road and people stopped and were eager to take things home with them. There were several stories of just moving into an apartment or into a FEMA cottage...but everyone seemed fairly upbeat and very thankful for the supplies.

Afterwards, we finally went to the beach! We've been driving past it every day but have never had the energy to stop and check it out. The sand is beautiful white and the water is warm (compared to where I'm from)! Apparently we are not supposed to swim in it, though, because there is still so much debris floating around and contaminating the water. Bummer. Anyhow, it was so nice to have bare feet in sand and to have some quiet time with water. :)

Now, it's time for a little rest, a shower, and whatever the evening holds! Yay!

Friday, December 7, 2007

1 week down

Here I am, Friday evening, full week of work under my belt...and all I did was laundry. Sheer exhaustion--I don't think I have ever felt like this in my life. My body aches, my mind doesn't work too well.......and I feel great! I feel proud that I helped dig an enormous amount of dirt out from under a house (for the garage to be layed), I put up half of a ROOF, I caulked up a storm, and painted like crazy.

Never have I done so much in one week for such a good cause.

The house that I was working on this week is a brand new home for a one-legged Vietnam veteran and his wife. Prior to the storm, they lived in their (old) home for 32 years. As with many of the homes in the area, it was destroyed during Katrina and the couple could not afford to rebuild. They've moved into 5 different FEMA trailers over the course of the past 2 years and are now in a FEMA "cottage." It must be amazing for them to finally be watching a home go up. I feel so fortunate to be a part of their future. My sweat is actually going into their home.

We haven't had a lot of time to explore Biloxi other than our drive to and from work, which is beautiful. It goes right along the coast--we see the sun set over the water almost every day! Tomorrow we are doing an ISP (individual service project--we need 80 hours) with another organization down here--not sure what we will be doing, but it'll likely be interesting!

As people always say when they experience something like this, there simply are no words. The people I am with are so unique and amazing...I have yet to figure out how to describe them. But, they are making this for me. Each with their own quirks and hilarities--more laughing than I have ever known.

I am counting my blessings tonight, every night. I know that whatever happens in my life is happening for a reason and the connections I make and have with others are everlasting.

So thankful. SO joyous. So loved.

Monday, December 3, 2007

blessed!

Today, my birthday, has been wonderful. From scrambling around on a rooftop to a candle in a brownie...I am surrounded by amazing people and amazing service being done.

I haven't had a chance to get photos from the first day on site, but here's a celebratory one from a night out during CTI. Yay for team members!


Myself, Maggie, Peter, Emily, Libby, Joe, and Alicia! Cheers!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

just call me kate

The past few days have been a test to a lot of my emotions and thoughts. Yesterday we briefly visited New Orleans and today we toured where we will be working (tomorrow!). The devastation that still exists in both places is shocking. I do not have words for much of what I was feeling and struggling with.

It is shocking--despite knowing that the reason we are here is because the work has yet to be finished--exactly how much there is still to do. Even more shocking, disgusting, unnerving, is seeing the disparities between the haves and the have-nots. It is clear where the money goes--to those who already have it and can access resources to get it.

Something that I do not really know how to feel about is the issue of the casinos here in Biloxi. I don't understand how $550 million can be spent to refurbish a casino when its shadow is cast upon homes that have yet to see any real help. I don't get it, as I have said to many of you already. While it is probably true that the rebuilding and the operations of the casinos have brought money back into the community--are those that truly need that money receiving any of its benefits? This "trickle-down" approach that our country depends so much upon does not seem to benefit those who need the most help.

Is it wrong of me to question why our country is not doing more to help its own people? Or to be confused? Angry?


In reference to the title of this entry, I have decided to introduce myself as "Kate" while I am here in the Gulf. This decision was not come to lightly. Prior to arriving here, I thought a lot about my name and the reactions I may get. However, I don't think that I prepared myself at all for the reality. In 2 days I have had 4 (very) negative reactions to the fact that I was choosing to stick with "Katrina." It came down to how I can best serve this community (which is what I am here for!). I feel like taking that first barrier away will make things much easier. .....Let's hope I can remember to answer to it!

I am excited to begin work tomorrow and celebrate my birthday at the same time. This is the begining of a life-changing year. I can feel it in my bones!