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Tuscaloosa Tornado Relief Mission

Saturday, April 7 to Saturday, April 14, 2012

Watch this space for regular updates and pictures as our mission team helps with the rebuilding in Tuscaloosa.

The team would welcome your prayers along the way. This is a litany from Habitat for Humanity North Central Massachusetts that they will pray together during their week of work:

Leader: Loving God, we make our homes in broken communities, in places of violence, in places scarred by extremes of wealth and poverty, in places divided by boundaries of race, gender, class and culture. Too many among us lack a safe and decent place to call their home. We know that we have created and sustained these divisions.
People: We beg you, O Lord, for your forgiveness.

Leader: Gracious God, we know that no matter how far we distance ourselves from our neighbor and from you, your love remains steadfast.
People: We praise you, O Lord, for your faithfulness.

Leader: Merciful God, amidst these divisions we have witnessed courageous individuals and churches cross boundaries to work side by side with their neighbors. Through their labors many have found shelter, and through their willingness to serve you and to open themselves to others we have seen possibilities for healing and reconciliation.
People: We thank you, O Lord, for lives of faithfulness.

Leader: Creator God, we have heard your call to serve one another, to give refuge to the stranger, to show hospitality to those in need. When we answer this call, we give witness to your will; bring healing to our communities and offer signs of hope to a world of despair.
People: We ask you, O Lord, for courage and strength.

Leader: Eternal God, we await the coming of your perfect kingdom, when all will find shelter, all will know the safety of home and all divisions will be reconciled; until that day, grant us the faith to endure the brokenness of this world, the hope to look beyond this brokenness and the love to work to trans- form this brokenness, according to your perfect will.
People: Amen.

Day 1

Saturday, April 7

Greetings, friends at St.Patrick's! The day started with a predawn meet-up at the Reno airport at 5:30 am.

Blessings on all the family and friends who brought us together at this wee hour! We blearily checked our bags, said a traveling prayer, and took Picture #1 for you before heading to security for our 7:00 am flight. Southwest gave us a good ride (although Graham's bag is still missing in action . . . is this at all fair for his very first plane ride??).

Caroline, Steve, and Cherry met us happily and on time in Birmingham: how great to be greeted by good friends.

Two Christ Church volunteers from Tuscaloosa, Ebba and Rebecca, helped drive us all to Tuscaloosa, one hour away, where we were met by our ETRC coordinator, Matt Stone (in red shirt). Tyler and Sherry from Canterbury Chapel at U of A (in center of kitchen picture) brought us a beautiful lasagna and salad dinner + dessert as Matt toured us through our housing at Phifer's Green Acres facility: bunkhouse, kitchen, meeting & TV rooms, complete with rec center, gym, and softball field! This is an amazing campus for Phifer's employees, which they g.raciously offer to volunteers like us. Terrific Southern hospitality. We met after dinner to share our expectations, plans, and ground rules, closing in prayer with this litany from Habitat for Humanity Central Massachusetts to launch our mission. Having fun already . . . Happy Easter to all!

It was great to pick up my Incline St. Pat's friends from the Airport in Birmingham today. I arrived at my Mom's house just last night on my journey across the US to Sweet Home Alabama. In Alabama, the iced tea is sweeter anyway, and lot's of the people! Ebba, the EYC leader and Rebecca assisted the group with rides from the Airport. There is nothing like southern hospitality. We were greeted by Matt Stone at Green Acres. Our new home for a week is Green Acres (the place to be). It has a baseball field, a big kitchen, bunk house, pool tables, exercise equipment and is a great facility owned and shared with ETRC by Phifer Wire. Hospitality again was seen when Sherry and Tyler from Canterbury brought us dinner. Cherry Barney served us her homemade blueberry pound cake for dessert. Yum! Our youth are so cute and enthusiastic. We set ground rules and made plans. All joined in the discussion of what we may expect this week. We have to listen carefully as they speech is slow and as sweet as the tea. We have to learn new skills, be good stewards of the land. We have to do good work to help those in need. Meanwhile, I will curl up on the not so pillowtop cot, and anticipate Easter morn. God bless!
PS..say a little prayer that Graham's luggage gets here.

Day 2

Here are some photos for the church website. Girls having lunch by the river, several of the remains of the house where Caroline Cutler used to live, next to 'forest lake' which is now deforested, and a couple of the easter egg hunt that Daniel set up!

Day 2: Easter Sunday at Christ Church, Tuscaloosa

Tuscaloosa Day 2 Highlights of our Easter Day:

Beautiful Eucharist at downtown Christ Episcopal Church with trumpets and extraordinary choral music Meeting with Caroline's long-time friends and her charming mother, Miss Mary Wright Picnic lunch and walk along the Black Warrior River Drives by antebellum homes and University of Alabama Easter egg hunt (with our chocolates deviously hidden by Daniel Gollery)

Sobering visit to site of Caroline's former family home in the ForestLake neighborhood--completely destroyed by the April 2011 tornado Delicious dinner by our chef, Cherry Barney, and her helpful assistants

Deeper understanding of the tornado's narrow, wicked slice through the city, leaving devastation in its wake Appreciation of Tuscaloosa' resilience and the big human story here: "We're coming back" We're ready to getting going on our rebuilding work with Habitat for Humanity tomorrow morning!

Love, Clare

Day 2: Busy at Bingo

Day 3

Highlights of our first work day: ~ Clare

Day 3: First Habitat project complete: painting exterior of home

Day 4

Highlights of our second work day: ~Clare

Here are some more shots. The Painting went very well today- tomorrow half the group is splitting to go work on a place that was damaged by tornadoes, so that will be interesting!
best, Marty

Day 5

Highlights of our 3rd work day ~Clare
Before Railing

After Railing

Before Ramp

Graham Building Ramp

Kelsey Painting

On Scaffold.jpg

Painter Girls

Day 6

More pics- tomorrow we come home!



Day 7

Highlights Home today, with plans to visit the little town of Northport for shopping on the way.

A terrific mission: THANK YOU, ST.PATRICK'S!!

Where has the time gone? It is Saturday, 4/14/12 (Crimson-White Day at the University of Alabama) and our week at Green Acres is over. We touched hearts and I believe that is what St. Patrick's would like for us to do.

The first family we helped would have never received aid because there house was not damaged by the tornado. However, God works in mysterious ways. An employee of habitat and neighbor of Wendy recognized her need and said he was so impressed by her well mannered children and how hard she worked at taking care of them. With our help, Wendy, Madison, and Bailey have a fresh new look on the inside and out of their mobile home.

We separated our crew so some could work with varied power tools on a tornado damaged home. The other team (my team) kept on with our finish work and Lanie, our 23 year old Habitat "Finish with Kindness" leader and ray of sunshine. This meant painting and painting and a little more painting. I believe it was well worth it. As Ashley said,"Miss Joy gave the best hug she has ever received." Miss Joy and her daughter Cedricia survived the tornado in their home by the grace of God and yet had structual and roof damage. We painted the terribly pink red trim a beautiful, bright "Crafted White" and her grey colored portion 'Sage Green". It looked beautiful. Miss Joy joined us in our parting circle of prayer. She is a Joy and talked about the blessings from the tornado as the children are finding the Lord and getting baptised.

Building ramps, caulking and painting rails were the handywork of our other team. I am so impressed with their skills and diligence. The house on 7th St East, Pete's crew, is looking great. I'll continue to take photo's so st. Patrick's mission group can see the progress.

I want to thank St. Pat's for this opportunity. I absolutely loved showing my Incline friends my version of the South. To share Mae Mae with you has given her more children to love.We have so many memories. We bonded and worked so well together.

My home is your home. When you are traveling through the sunny South, please come to see me in Greensboro. Roll Tide and...

Thanks be to God! Caroline