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We just found a coffee shop with WIFI. I will begin with yesterday. 7 of us met the airport at 6 in the morning. Our light left at 7. With a connection in Atlanta we arrived in Gulfport at about 3:30. Already thorugh conversations we are just begining see the effects of the hurricane on the region. Our seats were spread throughout a small jet. Many of us sat with military or other involved in particular efforts of relief. I for one sat with a gentleman who serves as a Regional Director for the EPA. As you could imagine, his agency has quite the hand in studing the effect and planning for the future of the region. The gentlemans name was Byron. He happens to live here ne the region, just north in what would be considered the country here, about 12 mile from the gulf. Byron spent the hurricane in his home with 29 of his closest family and friends. While Byron's home survived the storm with minimal damage, his 2 sons and their families lost everthing they had. Byron now shares his home with 20 of his family members. Byron had his laptop with him and shared many of the pictures that he took. I was able to put these on my memory stick to share with those at our home church. Some I will post here.

When I discussed with Byron the needs of the victims, long and short term, her recounted an incident that occured in Flordia after Ivan in '04. In one of the communities of mobile homes set up by FEMA there where 11 suicides. "Counceling" he said. I can not imagine the undertaking.

All said for the first day, we were amazed at the devistation once we landed. We met up with Sandra Price whom is our primary contact with the area. She spoke of this confused conditition the people have experienced. She shared a couple of stories about times she found herself driving miles in the wrong direction. Not because she did not recognize her landscape, but because she simply was not cognative of what she was doing. The general impression is that things here are moving slowly. Not simply the relief efforts, but as a result of the shell shock those in the community are still experiencing.

We also had a chance to meet with George and Linda Bates with th local Presbytery that represents 11 local churches. Gorge and Linda live 200 miles away, but have established a temerary residence at Hansboro church. The will return home for Thanksgivins soon. George has been elected to head up the relef efforts for the entire Presbytery. They seem rather in touch with the needs and the various efforts in the area. We had an intriging discussion reguarding the future of the local church. Many of these churches will recover, and perhaps add to their rolls. However, if they have any desire to sustain that growth there must be more than disaster assistance. If the churches do not step up to meet the spiritual needs of these new attendees, they will eventually fall off and the rolls will eventually return to predisaster levels.

After George and Linda left we ended ou evening by kiling cockroaches and playing hearts.

Thanks all for your prayers for our team and for our families whom have remained at home.

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