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"They're hard workers; there's no quit in them," [Charles Duplessis] said of the MDS volunteers. "They did their work, and they did it gladly. You saw the genuine joy and commitment to what they're doing.""The Lord has allowed them to give life back to the people here," [Arthur "Billy" Morgan] said of the MDS volunteers. "What was once a disaster has turned out to be heavenly.""Are you going to abandon the people just because it's difficult?" [Peter Regehr] asked. "If you were doing this strictly as a business, you probably would. But we can't quit just because things are tough."
20 Canadian Mennonite March 16, 2009 PhotoS By PAUl SchrAG God at work in the World Celebrating labours of love Gratitude flows to MDS for rebuilding homes, touching lives on U.S. Gulf Coast By Paul S chr ag For meetinghouse moBile, AlA. “M y home turned out real nice. I thank the Lord every day for it.” In the busiest winter ever for Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), Charles Duplessis’ three-year wait is almost over. The Baptist pastor is about to move into what he calls “a house built on love.” Mennonite Disaster Service houses stand four metres above the ground at water’s He means the love of MDS volunteers. edge at Grand Bayou, La., a fishing village about 35 miles south of New Orleans. Duplessis has met hundreds of them. They have built him a house to replace the one that was swept away when a wall of water because it showed that if you don’t get the last three-and-a-half years during a tour broke through a levee and surged through the media attention, then MDS is impact- of the region in conjunction with the All- New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward during ed,” said executive director Kevin King. Unit meeting. They have homes again, or Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29, 2005. Donations were lower than hoped for after soon will—and better ones than before. “They’re hard workers; there’s no quit in the September storm, and MDS was not “The blessings that the Mennonites have them,” Duplessis said of the MDS volun- able to respond to the extent King would brought to the community here are un- teers. “They did their work, and they did it have liked. real,” said Arthur “Billy” Morgan of Pass gladly. You saw the genuine joy and com- Yet 2008 was a big year for MDS. More Christian, La. mitment to what they’re doing.” than 4,800 people volunteered 26,316 Last year, Morgan moved into an MDS Duplessis, who lost not only his house days to binational projects. That number home less than a kilometre from the coast, but also the meeting place of his congrega- doesn’t include the countless people who on the same spot where Katrina lashed his tion, Mount Nebo Bible Baptist Church, responded to local disasters in their own old house into three pieces. His new home when the levee broke, gave a testimony regions. And it was an unusually active year stands on four-metre concrete pillars, rais- during the annual MDS All-Unit Meeting for natural disasters. The hurricane season ing it a total of six metres above sea level. last month at Spring Hill Baptist Church was one of the worst in history. For the It’s one of 27 new houses MDS has built in in Mobile. More than 300 MDS leaders first time, six consecutive named storms Pass Christian. and volunteers from the United States and made U.S. landfall. There were 500 more “The Lord has allowed them to give life Canada gathered to celebrate and support tornadoes in 2008 than in 2007, King said, back to the people here,” Morgan said of an organization that is touching more lives adding that MDS volunteers responded to the MDS volunteers. “What was once a than ever. With a record number of 14 bi- floods in Manitoba and British Columbia disaster has turned out to be heavenly.” national projects underway this winter, and wildfires in California. After Katrina devastated Pass Christian, MDS activity has grown to a point that its But MDS’s biggest binational projects Morgan coordinated assistance projec
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