Hannah's Katrina Story (by Hannah Hanschu)

 

Iíve thought a lot about my story.Iím not sure what it should be.I watched as prayer after prayer after prayer was answered in the 10 days this group was together.Personal prayers of our team, prayers for our team, and prayers for the families we worked with.I was amazed at the sheer quantity of it.

Others have mentioned that I worked at salvaging the items, memories really, of the Sharpe family.This alone was an answer to prayer.Everything in my home has a story.It may simply be that it once belonged to a relative but most likely it is and heirloom passed down from one person to the next and I can tell you when I received it, for what occasion, and who gave it to me.These are my memories.Jo Sharpe was the exact same way.I understood how hard it was for her to see her memories destroyed, shoveled into wheel barrows, and dumped on the street.This was a pain that I felt with her to the core of my being.Many, many, many times I stood in the midst of that master bedroom and told God that I was done.So many times I wondered why it was me that God had picked for this job.It hurt.It tore at my soul for days.And thenÖ the light broke through Ė or rather, the smell of bleach.I have never been as happy as the day I was able to walk through Joís house with her.For the first time since the storm she walked through her home and talked to me about what she would like to do now.She remembered that she never liked the kitchen set up how it was.She knew already that she was going to change the master bathroom.That house was clean and the mud was gone and she had a new start for her family.We saved a few of her family treasures but mostly I think that both she and I realized that the things are not the memories.The people, and the stories, and the ability to pick up and keep fighting for our families is the legacy that we are left with and that we will, hopefully,pass on to our children.†† I left Joís house feeling drained and tired and looking forward to a small job that would only take a few hours and give me time to rest before getting hit by another emotional tidal wave.God had other plans.

When we arrived at Pamís house we thought we were there to do a partial days work.Remove a few appliances and strip some dry wall.When I walked into the house I heard Pam telling Brad that she needed things boxed and ďsavedĒ for her mother.It felt like my heart literally hit my mud caked boots.Again I looked to God to do the work because I was worn out.It felt as if there was literally nothing left inside me to give.I began working to pack the things we could save for Pamís mother and listened to her tell her story.

For a year and a half Pam had been working with her mother to try and clean out her house so that she could sell it and move back to New Orleans with the rest of her family.Pam and her mother worked very hard at clearing things out but there was a life time of clutter and things that are hard to part with.A little more then a year ago Pam asked her church to begin praying that she would be able to buy her own home.She had no idea how she would do this but she wanted to pray about it and see if God opened a door.She began talking with her mother about possibly buying her house and said that her dream would be to be able to buy the home and level it in order to build a new house.She had no real emotional ties to the house itself but really liked the location and the property.Well God answered Pamís prayer for a house in a very dramatic way.Hurricane Katrina flooded the home sending Pamís mother to New Orleans to live with family since her house was uninhabitable.The decision was made that she would stay there and Pam would clean out her home and try to sell it ďAs IsĒ once the major debris was removed.Pamís pastor offered to supply the materials and labor to repair the home if Pam would buy it and stay in the area.When we left it was still unknown if the house would be condemned or not but I think a small part of Pam was hoping that it would because that would give her the fulfillment of her dream.To be able to level the house and start over.

This entire trip, from conception to end, was an answer to prayer for me.I arrived at the church on the Saturday that we were leaving completely drained.I had received some devastating news from family the night before and had almost not gone.I had no idea how I was going to get through the trip myself let alone be any kind of blessing to the people on my team and the families we were there to serve.It is only because of God that there was anything helpful or caring in what I did that week.Literally each step I took, each word I said, each hug I gave was an answer to my own prayers.I wanted so badly to help these people, I had my own thoughts of what I would do and how I would help.Had I been left to my own devices I would have walked away from each job I was given while in Mississippi.The only way I was able to do what God wanted me to do while I was there was for Him to completely break my spirit before I arrived and force me to rely on Him to get me through it.He is so good!Not only did He get me through it but He blessed me more then I ever would have dreamed.He listened to my cry and heard the deepest desires of my heart and He answered them in His infinite wisdom and grace.

I will never forget the people I met in Mississippi.I hope to make another trip later in the year.Mostly, however, I will never forget the lessons God taught me while I was there.The feeling of not making a single move without direction and praying before each step is one I am striving to carry into my daily life here at home.With prayer there are no miss-steps.They are all exactly as they are meant to be.I pray daily for the families we met and the lives they are rebuilding.I thank God for the opportunity to be a part of it and I hope I will be able to return.For now I am resting in the knowledge that I am exactly where God wants me to be.Anxiously awaiting what He will call me to do here on the mission field He has placed me in.