Volunteering Brings Dreams of a Brighter Tomorrow
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A few years ago, just after the floods hit Nashville Tennessee, and the surrounding areas, I was invited by my sister-in-law to go with the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteer team to a small town just outside of Nashville. They had been hit hard by the floods, and needed help to rebuild houses and faith in the community. She knew that I had not been a denominational Christian for many years, but I still had faith in God and loved helping people. I was hesitant at first, because I have been put off by many Christians in the past.
I was born into a home that was very religious, we went to church every Sunday and many Wednesdays. I attended youth church camp and read from the Bible several times a week. It was a strict upbringing, but always supportive and loving. As I grew older and began to question many of the scriptures in the Bible I began to ask a lot of questions, many of which no one seemed to be able to answer with reasonable answers. As a teenager I grew my hair long and rebelled though I continued to attend church at times. I was treated as an outsider and was actually asked to leave a few different churches due to my appearance.
I still have long hair and did at the time she asked me to go, though I wasn't quite as rebellious. You might imagine I was a bit skeptical of going, but I figured it would be a good learning experience, and if all else failed I could just leave and come back home. I was self-employed at the time so I finished up the projects I was working on and got ready to head down to Tennessee. I decided to drive down myself, and she decided to ride with me, though we were offered a ride with a group of other volunteers. The plan was for us to stay in a small church in the town we were going to, which had some damage that we were going to work on, as well as some houses in the area.
I didn't know what to expect, but when I got there I was greeted by happy smiling faces. I was shown around a bit and introduced to many of the volunteers. I was somewhat amazed that not one person there gave me a look expressing a feeling that I didn't belong there; honestly, I felt right at home. That evening we had dinner in one of the larger rooms and of course had prayer and devotionals. As I went to sleep that night I felt a sense of peace that I had not felt in a long time. I had vivid dreams of my life and what seemed to be my future. When I woke up the next morning I was ready to go, I was energized as if I were a kid again. It was quite strange, yet it just felt natural.
We started the day with prayer and a hearty breakfast that was prepared by the members of the church we were staying in. Then we had a quick meeting to discuss the activities of the day. The team I was going to be working with was going to a house a few miles from the church. It was difficult to see the damage as we drove to our destination, but once we arrived, it became much more obvious. There were water marks on all the houses in the area about 5 and a half feet high. there were cars in the driveways that were completely covered with mud, I began to realize that many of these people had probably lost everything they had. As we worked that day it was very humbling. I got a chance to talk to many of the people in the area and came to realize that they weren't in a flood zone so most of them didn't have flood insurance. The city didn't even warn people that they were going to open the levy, so they had no warning at all. We were told that the water had risen to it's depth in a matter of about 15 minutes.
The Nicest People
I spent a week in Tennessee, and meet some of the nicest people I have ever meet. The communion among us volunteers was better and stronger than any I have ever felt at any church I have ever attended. I made many friends, many whom I am still in contact with. I continued to have strange vivid dreams the entire week, and feel that I became much closer to God and developed a stronger faith then ever before. I am thankful for the experience, and have given my time to help those in need even more than I did before. If you ever have a chance to help your fellow man please do so with out hesitation, the rewards will be greater that you could ever imagine.
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