Alabama ERT BLOG
These updates by Jim Haney and Chuck Hermann were received on May 9th.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
The Alabama team has arrived in Tuscaloosa after a brief delay in getting our rental cars at the airport in Birmingham. Chuck and Ken missed their flight and were told the next few planes were overbooked and they would be hard pressed to get tickets. While they were requesting prayer, the tickets were suddenly available. They arrived in Birmingham while we were waiting for the cars. It was not a problem the Lord didn’t resolve. It gave team members a chance for a meal and a time to get acquainted.
Our accommodations are established at the First Wesleyan Church in Tuscaloosa. We experienced Southern hospitality and friendliness the moment we drove into the parking lot. They fed us a spaghetti dinner, gave us a tour of the premises, and directed us to our quarters. We are staying in a large classroom with mats on the floor to sleep on. We are not exactly suffering for the Lord.
Tomorrow we will meet with a chaplain from the Tuscaloosa Fire Department at around 8:00 am and then will determine what our tasks for the day will be.
We have been in prayer throughout the day and we have seen the Lord working in our behalf. Thank you for your prayers and for your participation in this mission.
Eph. 5:20 Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us. To Christ be the glory…
Friday, May 6, 2011
John led devotions this morning at 6:30 and we went through the passages in the Code of Conduct, which remind us to be “Men of God” in our daily walk.
Terry Jacobs met our team at 8:00 this morning. He is very touched by our willingness to come to Tuscaloosa to minister to the people and especially to be a support to the worn out TFD firefighters. Because the firefighters were already out on their assignments we went with Terry to their massive new Station 1 to meet with three Battalion Chiefs. By the time we got there, they were elsewhere, so we went to Samaritan's Purse to do some work in the community. We were assigned to cut and clear two trees in a rear yard. We had teamed up with four tree cutters from Mississippi who were also staying at the First Wesleyan Church and it made the perfect team for the day’s tasks. We then went to another area and began work on a massive tree that was uprooted, lying across a street, and over the roof of a house. This task took the rest of the day and we still didn’t finish. The tree cutters said they would finish on Saturday.
A call from Chaplain Jacobs, while we were at the tree site, invited us to a Cajun dinner at
Coleman Coliseum, University of Alabama, put on by the Athletic Department for public employees and government disaster relief personnel. We accepted the offer and upon arrival found Shreveport USAR Task Force Team 3 was there. Upon talking to some of their members, we found several FFC Members among them. They reported that a large part of their FFC Chapter consisted of the Shreveport Fire Chief and his staff. They said their chapter was healthy and active.
John was asked by a TV camera crew for an interview about our team and involvement in the area. The reporter asked this as a closing question of John, “What is the most important thing for these people?” To which John of course replied, “That these people know Jesus and have Him in their hearts.” This interview was to be aired that evening on Birmingham CBS Channel 42.
We then met Leonard Jordan who came up and thanked our team and stated his deep appreciation for our assistance in Tuscaloosa. Leonard was with the University of Alabama coaching staff and just happened to be the all-pro former center linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960’s and 70’s. After chatting with him, we were able to talk with firefighters from New Orleans and Tuscaloosa. It was a very good time of interaction with fire personnel.
As an added treat we were told we could enter the baseball stadium next to where we were eating and watch the Bama/LSU game in progress. We took them up on the offer and spent an hour on a beautiful shirtsleeve night watching a few innings of baseball. While in the stands, the Chief of the TFD came up and talked with us and we were able to pray for him right there in the stadium before he left.
The whole evening was full of divine appointments.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Devotions by Chuck were from I John 3:11-20 with emphasis on verse 16…
This is how we know what love is, Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
Chuck reported on an organization he is involved in Rochester called Great Deeds that sacrificially works for the benefit of others.
We met with Chaplain Jacobs at 7:30 and he took us to Fire Station 1. There we met and spent time with the station crews building relationships. We were briefed by the Battalion Chief and were imbedded with their crews during the day. We were then able to work along side them as they were in the community. This gave a lot of one-on-one time. They were impressed by our hard work and we gained credibility in their eyes. We were able to pray for the crews and it was a good time of ministry.
At the end of the day they held a review of the days operations with about 50 guys present. At the end of the time the men came up to our team to personally thank us for coming to Tuscaloosa. A couple guys are interested in being involved in future FFC/ERT responses.
We’ve been invited to a special fried catfish dinner Sunday evening at the station.
The Lord continues to open doors of ministry for us with the fire personnel.
Toby Nelson was able to meet up with us tonight. When he came into Birmingham from Chicago, he was told there were no more cars available for rent and that the person in front of him got the last one. He asked the man, who got it, if he was going near Tuscaloosa to which he replied, “Yes, I’m going right through there.” He gave him a ride to the church.
Praise the Lord!
Sunday morning we started with devotions by Jim Haney in Col. 1. An electrian sat in on our devotions. He suggested we all go to a steak house for breakfast. We concurred. While en route, Ken Dose said, “I’ll admit I’ve been praying the steak house is closed this early in the morning…so we can go to the Waffle House.” The prayers of a righteous man availeth much…the steak house was closed. We had breakfast at the Waffle House. Our waitress was Wendie. It was her first day back after her car wreck 2 months ago. Her injuries included a broken pelvis and a broken foot. Worst of all, she lost her 8 month old unborn baby. Her hubby broke his hand in the same wreck. (He is the night cook at the same waffle house.) They have a 3 year old that survived. It was obvious to all of us that she was the target of our prayers for God to place someone in our path that needed a blessing. We had set out to be God’s delivery agents by taking up an offering for her. She was moved by the kindness of the wad of cash…she had not counted it prior to our departure. John asked if she had Jesus in her heart and she said she received Him in 2007. We are eager to go back Monday morning to the Waffle House.
We all enjoyed the Mothers’ Day Service at the host church (First Wesleyan) and bought Chinese lunch for the pastor and his family. We met people dropping and receiving donations of food and diapers for the next hour. Then it was off to the lumberjack training ground again to cut trees for folks we met in church. We have noticed the heat is getting more intense each day. Tomorrow, we expect 90+.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Our day started out with Lance doing a devotion on forgiveness based on a personal experience in his life. It was a very powerful testimony to the great cost of Jesus’ forgiveness. We should be ready to forgive because we are forgiven. There was much discussion on the need for us to forgive others and move on in our relationships.
We had breakfast at the Waffle House again and spent time encouraging Wende. After breakfast we traveled to Sue Snead’s house (a firefighters widow) to see what we could do about a tree that was hanging over her house.
Lance standing in Sue's tree.
John is starting to cut Sue's branches.
We tackled the tree and worked until lunchtime when Chuck needed to leave for Birmingham Airport and his flight home. John provided the transportation. Sue’s sister brought us take-out lunches and we pic-nicked on her front lawn in the shade (it was 94 degrees). After lunch we brought down the rest of the tree. Sue was very appreciative and we prayed for her before leaving.
The business behind Sue’s house was kind enough to loan us 2 ladders to use while working on her tree. The secretary asked if we could remove some trees at her ninety year old mother’s house. We said we would look into it when we finished Sue’s tree.
Upon arriving at this new address we found ourselves in a very heavily damaged neighborhood.
When we found the address of the secretary’s mother, the house was too destroyed to worry about removing the trees. While talking to Stanley, a neighbor across the street, we heard his amazing story about how his family survived the tornado by barely getting into their basement before the wind picked up their house, moved it about 10 feet uphill and dropped it down into the basement. It took Stanley 45 minutes to dig out. His family was all safe but his youngest son had some injured ribs and burns to his back because he had been pinned against the water heater. After Stanley got his family out from under the house he headed straight across the street to check on his elderly neighbor. He found her standing next to a partial wall uninjured but confused about what just happened. The roof was gone and two very large trees crashed into her house. We prayed for Stanley and his family before moving on.
Skip, the photographer, called and needed assistance putting some tarps over some bad spots on his roof. We responded and got the job done. We then went by a cabinet maker’s shop and moved some equipment into safer areas.
Our day of work was then complete. It was 6:30 and we headed back to church to clean up and go to a nearby eating establishment for dinner. The Lord once again took us safely through another busy day, which was injury free. We met several people and prayed for each one. Jesus showed Himself faithful to answer our prayers.
On far left is Toby Nelson, who joined the team on Saturday evening. He is a Senior Chaplain with the First Response Chaplains of California. He has been to numerous disasters and became acquainted with FFC ERT through Vinny Mata, a member of Haiti's first emergency relief crew. He along with the rest of the team enjoyed wonderful fellowship with Pastor Joel Gorveatte and his wife, Tracey. Along with their parents, the Gorveatte children and another church member, named Jan, have been great examples of true servants of God. They are at the church continually, graciously taking in and giving out supplies to people in need. Sunday night the guys had an awesome evening with the Tuscaloosa firefighters, who hosted a delicious fish fry. The Lord was in their midst and we trust Him to continue the work He has begun.
Sunday afternoon and all day Monday the team worked at Skip's house. He's a photographer, who made the slide show. This is another home of his, which he gives rent free to Katrina victims. The house has no insurance and may be a total loss because of the oak tree in roof/kitchen. Skip wanted to spend more time with the team, so he went to dinner with them. He has offered his service to go on any trips throughout the world with FFC and take pictures. We are asking the Lord to provide his travel funds so maybe he can go to Africa with FFC on May 17th.
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