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Celebrating labours of love

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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."

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									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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