2005 – Broussard, LA – Hurricane Katrina
My eyes were glued to the television. I could not believe what was happening in New Orleans. People were stranded on their roof tops, dehydrated, scared and crying out for help as the flood waters rose around them. Footage of the horrific event was captured from helicopters and air boats as people prayed for rescue. Memories from that week are forever etched into my mind. I felt so helpless and I longed for an opportunity to help in any way possible.
Within hours of the storm evacuees were informed that they could not go home. Even if their home was not damaged, most of the surrounding areas did not have electricity or running water. Some people were faced with weeks of displacement and nowhere to turn.
As I watched the TV screen, my phone rang. Barry was in a hurry, I could tell he was running from one meeting to another. Without much time to talk he quickly rattled off a two important facts that he knew I would want to be aware of:
1. Someone was on their way to our house to stay with us for a while. Days…possibly weeks until power was returned to their home.
2. I was supposed to be at my pastors house within an hour to help his wife host a number of guests from the New Orleans area.
I quickly got dressed and picked up the guest room. My heart was pounding as I drove to my pastor’s home. I could feel myself rattled with excitement. I was hoping for a chance to help in any way I could and the fact that they were hosting people who were forced to evacuate was music to my ears. I was going to make a difference in some small way and I could not wait for the opportunity.
Our pastors house was immaculate. Their maid was just finishing up her cleaning ritual as I arrived. Green beans were cooking on the stove and their home felt warm and inviting. Our senior pastors wife emerged from her bedroom with soaking wet hair. She was always graceful, even without a stitch of makeup she still made me feel slightly insecure. As a wife on staff I felt the pressure to mirror her standard of excellence. Her husband had placed her on such a high pedestal…she seemed almost goddess like. She was tall and a thin size 2, with perfectly highlighted hair. She was the essence of what our pastor wanted all of the other wives to look and act like…and I just never seemed to measure up.
She greeted me with sincere kindness and thanked me for coming over on such short notice. She listed off a few things that needed to be taken care of and then informed me that she was going to have a house full of pastors and their families. I was also informed to get ready to take care of their guests children during the dinner. They were NOT to be interrupted.
Hours later a group of weary travelers and cranky children arrived. I quickly rounded up the kids and directed them to a neighboring room where they could play. Within minutes the children were all bickering and fighting with each other. They wanted their parents. They wanted to eat. They wanted anything other than what they had been given. One by one they began asking for dinner. Desperate for something or someone to help ease the situation, I tiptoed into the dining room to find their mother. Her husband was the pastor of one of the larger churches in our state. Our senior pastor oversaw their church and provided leadership to them and their massive congregation. The wife was cute and outgoing, but it seemed forced and shallow.
I approached her as quietly as possible in order to find out how she would like for me to handle dinner arrangements for the children. Before I could speak, she held up her glass and without even looking in my direction, she told me to be a darling and go get her something more to drink. There was a hint of arrogance seeping out in her demeanor and it made me cringe. I knew I was there to serve, and they had just been forced from their home… so I repented under my breath and asked God to help me make it through the rest of the evening. When I returned with her glass, I asked her about the children’s dinner. She quickly rattled off their dinner instructions and motioned for my removal with a swift flick of her wrist. Again…I asked the Lord to forgive my failing attitude as I served up dinner to her rowdy crew. They showed no sign of manners or thankfulness. I wondered if they learned that from their parents…or if it was ingrained in this family from birth. Either way, I was not impressed…I couldn’t believe these people were pastors. They represented everything that I never wanted to become. Sadly, my interactions with them were just beginning.