Teens help ease Biloxi blues

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

After a recent trip to hurricane-ravaged Mississippi, two Flamborough teens can add another job skill to their resumes. Melissa Koning of Troy and Danielle Elzinga of Lynden can now legitimately say they have work experience as roofers.

The girls were part of a 90-member mission team from Hamilton District Christian High School that traveled to Gulfport, Mississippi, just after Christmas to help rebuild homes severely damaged when coastal waters rushed inland last August as Hurricane Katrina hammered the Gulf Coast. Besides the high school students, the team included 19 students from Redeemer University College in Ancaster and nine parent chaperones. About 15 members of the mission group were residents of Flamborough.

"We were the guinea pigs for roofing," Melissa declared, noting they were among the first youth teams assigned the task of shingling roofs on damaged homes in Biloxi. Safety procedures were followed to the letter and no serious mishaps befell the roofers, so the experiment worked out well and is expected to continue as other teams of young volunteers arrive to help rebuild the community.

For five days spanning late December and early January, the girls donned hard helmets, work shirts and pants, goggles and steel-toed boots as they climbed atop roofs with roofing shovels, hammers and nailguns. They found roofing to be tough work, especially in 20-degree Celsius weather, but there were many rewards as residents showed their appreciation by supplying them with coolers full of ice and bottled water. One group of 50 workers was even treated to a dinner of barbecued chicken, rice and beans, prepared by a man named Winston. The volunteers put a new roof on Winston's house and he, a deacon in the local Baptist church, wanted to show his gratitude.

The Deep South Mission was organized in coordination with the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee and the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. It was organized by school principal George Van Kampen and teacher Will Kamphuis with nine students in the Christian high school's leadership group. Melissa and Danielle, both 16, are members of the students' group.

During their mission trip, the students slept on mattresses on the floor of a school gymnasium. While they saw a great deal of

destruction and heard harrowing stories of people climbing into their attics to escape the rushing waters caused by the hurricane, they were encouraged by the many examples of faith and hope shown by Biloxi residents.

Danielle was impressed by the strength and determination of the hurricane victims to get on with their lives. "A lot of people are defined but what they have," she said. But despite extensive damage to their homes, churches and businesses, the people of Biloxi remain thankful for what they have, she observed.

The experience helped put things in perspective for the Lynden teen. "I learned 'it's not all about you.' There's a need to help people. The need is still there," she said.

Melissa came home with similar sentiments. "I gained the realization that I have to be thankful for everything I have." The people in Mississippi weren't expecting anything would happen to change their everyday lives, but Hurricane Katrina changed all that, she noted.

Despite their losses, the people have proven to be very resourceful and resilient. Melissa was glad to be part of a team that was "a symbol of hope for them." She, like Danielle, feels that she gained much more than she gave during the recent mission trip.

Conversations with hurricane survivors left lasting impressions on the two girls. Danielle heard about members of a nearby church who sought refuge on the second floor of their church. "They could actually reach out the window and touch the surface of the water" that covered the area, Danielle said. One church-goer recalled seeing someone go by hanging on to a piece of wood. Others marveled at the small miracle that the water level didn't go beyond the second floor of the building.

Michelle talked to an elderly woman who had survived the high waters. "Weren't you afraid?" Michelle asked her after hearing that the woman had been stranded in the water with her three grandchildren. The woman, who reportedly had helped to keep her grandchildren's heads above water until they found refuge on a third-storey balcony, replied, "With God, there is nothing to be afraid of."

These and other stories of human faith and endurance impressed the girls and other student volunteers. They also remember some of the signs that dotted the landscape, some of a serious note, like, "You Loot, We Shoot," and others showing humour, like one outside a damaged building which read, "Waffle House, We'll Be Back Soon."

Other lasting impressions were the sight of a large, badly damaged casino barge that remains stranded on top of a crushed building, across the road from its usual harbour berth; a McDonald's restaurant site that now only holds its red roof; a small pleasure boat lifted like a toy out of the water and now perched between someone's fence and a garage, and a church with its steeple, roof and support beams still intact but open to the elements because it has no walls.

"I don't think anyone will ever be the same again," Danielle observed of the hurricane survivors. But her words might also just as well apply to all those who participated in the Deep South Mission and returned home with a renewed sense of purpose.

Teens help ease Biloxi blues

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

After a recent trip to hurricane-ravaged Mississippi, two Flamborough teens can add another job skill to their resumes. Melissa Koning of Troy and Danielle Elzinga of Lynden can now legitimately say they have work experience as roofers.

The girls were part of a 90-member mission team from Hamilton District Christian High School that traveled to Gulfport, Mississippi, just after Christmas to help rebuild homes severely damaged when coastal waters rushed inland last August as Hurricane Katrina hammered the Gulf Coast. Besides the high school students, the team included 19 students from Redeemer University College in Ancaster and nine parent chaperones. About 15 members of the mission group were residents of Flamborough.

"We were the guinea pigs for roofing," Melissa declared, noting they were among the first youth teams assigned the task of shingling roofs on damaged homes in Biloxi. Safety procedures were followed to the letter and no serious mishaps befell the roofers, so the experiment worked out well and is expected to continue as other teams of young volunteers arrive to help rebuild the community.

For five days spanning late December and early January, the girls donned hard helmets, work shirts and pants, goggles and steel-toed boots as they climbed atop roofs with roofing shovels, hammers and nailguns. They found roofing to be tough work, especially in 20-degree Celsius weather, but there were many rewards as residents showed their appreciation by supplying them with coolers full of ice and bottled water. One group of 50 workers was even treated to a dinner of barbecued chicken, rice and beans, prepared by a man named Winston. The volunteers put a new roof on Winston's house and he, a deacon in the local Baptist church, wanted to show his gratitude.

The Deep South Mission was organized in coordination with the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee and the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. It was organized by school principal George Van Kampen and teacher Will Kamphuis with nine students in the Christian high school's leadership group. Melissa and Danielle, both 16, are members of the students' group.

During their mission trip, the students slept on mattresses on the floor of a school gymnasium. While they saw a great deal of

destruction and heard harrowing stories of people climbing into their attics to escape the rushing waters caused by the hurricane, they were encouraged by the many examples of faith and hope shown by Biloxi residents.

Danielle was impressed by the strength and determination of the hurricane victims to get on with their lives. "A lot of people are defined but what they have," she said. But despite extensive damage to their homes, churches and businesses, the people of Biloxi remain thankful for what they have, she observed.

The experience helped put things in perspective for the Lynden teen. "I learned 'it's not all about you.' There's a need to help people. The need is still there," she said.

Melissa came home with similar sentiments. "I gained the realization that I have to be thankful for everything I have." The people in Mississippi weren't expecting anything would happen to change their everyday lives, but Hurricane Katrina changed all that, she noted.

Despite their losses, the people have proven to be very resourceful and resilient. Melissa was glad to be part of a team that was "a symbol of hope for them." She, like Danielle, feels that she gained much more than she gave during the recent mission trip.

Conversations with hurricane survivors left lasting impressions on the two girls. Danielle heard about members of a nearby church who sought refuge on the second floor of their church. "They could actually reach out the window and touch the surface of the water" that covered the area, Danielle said. One church-goer recalled seeing someone go by hanging on to a piece of wood. Others marveled at the small miracle that the water level didn't go beyond the second floor of the building.

Michelle talked to an elderly woman who had survived the high waters. "Weren't you afraid?" Michelle asked her after hearing that the woman had been stranded in the water with her three grandchildren. The woman, who reportedly had helped to keep her grandchildren's heads above water until they found refuge on a third-storey balcony, replied, "With God, there is nothing to be afraid of."

These and other stories of human faith and endurance impressed the girls and other student volunteers. They also remember some of the signs that dotted the landscape, some of a serious note, like, "You Loot, We Shoot," and others showing humour, like one outside a damaged building which read, "Waffle House, We'll Be Back Soon."

Other lasting impressions were the sight of a large, badly damaged casino barge that remains stranded on top of a crushed building, across the road from its usual harbour berth; a McDonald's restaurant site that now only holds its red roof; a small pleasure boat lifted like a toy out of the water and now perched between someone's fence and a garage, and a church with its steeple, roof and support beams still intact but open to the elements because it has no walls.

"I don't think anyone will ever be the same again," Danielle observed of the hurricane survivors. But her words might also just as well apply to all those who participated in the Deep South Mission and returned home with a renewed sense of purpose.

Teens help ease Biloxi blues

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

After a recent trip to hurricane-ravaged Mississippi, two Flamborough teens can add another job skill to their resumes. Melissa Koning of Troy and Danielle Elzinga of Lynden can now legitimately say they have work experience as roofers.

The girls were part of a 90-member mission team from Hamilton District Christian High School that traveled to Gulfport, Mississippi, just after Christmas to help rebuild homes severely damaged when coastal waters rushed inland last August as Hurricane Katrina hammered the Gulf Coast. Besides the high school students, the team included 19 students from Redeemer University College in Ancaster and nine parent chaperones. About 15 members of the mission group were residents of Flamborough.

"We were the guinea pigs for roofing," Melissa declared, noting they were among the first youth teams assigned the task of shingling roofs on damaged homes in Biloxi. Safety procedures were followed to the letter and no serious mishaps befell the roofers, so the experiment worked out well and is expected to continue as other teams of young volunteers arrive to help rebuild the community.

For five days spanning late December and early January, the girls donned hard helmets, work shirts and pants, goggles and steel-toed boots as they climbed atop roofs with roofing shovels, hammers and nailguns. They found roofing to be tough work, especially in 20-degree Celsius weather, but there were many rewards as residents showed their appreciation by supplying them with coolers full of ice and bottled water. One group of 50 workers was even treated to a dinner of barbecued chicken, rice and beans, prepared by a man named Winston. The volunteers put a new roof on Winston's house and he, a deacon in the local Baptist church, wanted to show his gratitude.

The Deep South Mission was organized in coordination with the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee and the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. It was organized by school principal George Van Kampen and teacher Will Kamphuis with nine students in the Christian high school's leadership group. Melissa and Danielle, both 16, are members of the students' group.

During their mission trip, the students slept on mattresses on the floor of a school gymnasium. While they saw a great deal of

destruction and heard harrowing stories of people climbing into their attics to escape the rushing waters caused by the hurricane, they were encouraged by the many examples of faith and hope shown by Biloxi residents.

Danielle was impressed by the strength and determination of the hurricane victims to get on with their lives. "A lot of people are defined but what they have," she said. But despite extensive damage to their homes, churches and businesses, the people of Biloxi remain thankful for what they have, she observed.

The experience helped put things in perspective for the Lynden teen. "I learned 'it's not all about you.' There's a need to help people. The need is still there," she said.

Melissa came home with similar sentiments. "I gained the realization that I have to be thankful for everything I have." The people in Mississippi weren't expecting anything would happen to change their everyday lives, but Hurricane Katrina changed all that, she noted.

Despite their losses, the people have proven to be very resourceful and resilient. Melissa was glad to be part of a team that was "a symbol of hope for them." She, like Danielle, feels that she gained much more than she gave during the recent mission trip.

Conversations with hurricane survivors left lasting impressions on the two girls. Danielle heard about members of a nearby church who sought refuge on the second floor of their church. "They could actually reach out the window and touch the surface of the water" that covered the area, Danielle said. One church-goer recalled seeing someone go by hanging on to a piece of wood. Others marveled at the small miracle that the water level didn't go beyond the second floor of the building.

Michelle talked to an elderly woman who had survived the high waters. "Weren't you afraid?" Michelle asked her after hearing that the woman had been stranded in the water with her three grandchildren. The woman, who reportedly had helped to keep her grandchildren's heads above water until they found refuge on a third-storey balcony, replied, "With God, there is nothing to be afraid of."

These and other stories of human faith and endurance impressed the girls and other student volunteers. They also remember some of the signs that dotted the landscape, some of a serious note, like, "You Loot, We Shoot," and others showing humour, like one outside a damaged building which read, "Waffle House, We'll Be Back Soon."

Other lasting impressions were the sight of a large, badly damaged casino barge that remains stranded on top of a crushed building, across the road from its usual harbour berth; a McDonald's restaurant site that now only holds its red roof; a small pleasure boat lifted like a toy out of the water and now perched between someone's fence and a garage, and a church with its steeple, roof and support beams still intact but open to the elements because it has no walls.

"I don't think anyone will ever be the same again," Danielle observed of the hurricane survivors. But her words might also just as well apply to all those who participated in the Deep South Mission and returned home with a renewed sense of purpose.