A Flag is Just a Flag

March 25, 2007

A flag is just a flag.

At the Bristol race today, there was a skydiver who had a flag trailing him as he soared through the sky. The first response from ROTC/Boy Scouters was “Oh no! The flags gonna hit the ground! So disrespectful!”.

Bull crap.

A flag is just a flag.

Sure, it’s a symbol of our nation. Yeah, you should treat it with respect in that regard.

A flag is just a flag.

By displaying the flag in this manner, it probably was more patriotic than just the normal flag on a pole. Who cares if it touches the ground? It’s fabric with a pattern, representing our country.

I rejected the Air Force to go in to missions. My goal is to help people, show them God’s love. As a missionary, my goal is not to raise symbols of my faith, but to demonstrate it in tangible ways. A missionary is not effective if he simply procures a wooden cross. If a cross has to be destroyed, so be it. It is a symbol. Yes, it should be respected. But it is a symbol.

In the same way, wouldn’t it be better to demonstrate what our country stands for (freedom) by skydiving with our nation’s colors than to just raise it up on a steel pole? The symbol may hit the ground, but it is much more effective a symbol.

A flag is just a flag.

Reflecting on Biloxi

March 20, 2007

It’s been a little over 48 hours since I returned from my Spring break mission trip to Biloxi, Mississippi, and I am still riding the wave of emotions that come from the experience.

Some quick, basic facts: there were 24 of us, many from His House Christian Fellowship, who went down to rebuild. We took Michigan Tech vans (two of them), and had 6 drivers who rotated their driving shifts. It took 28 hours to get down to Biloxi, and 26 to return. We worked with Samaritan’s Purse, who were a first responder to the site.

First, I should explain the region and its current condition. To those of you who think that the Gulf Coast has been rebuilt to some level of normalcy in the past year and a half, you couldn’t be more wrong. The coastal cities affected by the hurricanes of 2005 (not just Katrina) are in varying degrees of demolition and reconstruction. On the way to Biloxi, there were dozens of coastal hotels, absolutely ripped apart with no demolition or renovation underway. In the trees, debris and litter was strewn about; from rugs to bikes to engines to clothes.

The high-rise hotels seemed to be going up at a reasonable rate, which is indeed a good thing. However, the casinos are going up at much more rapid rate, which is indeed a bad thing. Yes, the casinos are a way to bring in income and jobs, but these should NEVER be your main source of tourism and taxes (Vegas as exception). There are so many people living in poverty in the region, and casinos capitalize on their misfortune. What little money the folks do have is squandered away on impossible odds and flashy lights. Children are literally sleeping on the benches while their parents are inside, trading their meager income for disappointment. What the city and region really needs to do is bring back the things that made the area better: the shoreline restaraunts, the charter fishing industry, the entertainment piers, and the beach life. Those seem to be on the backburner for now, but that Hard Rock Casino sure is going up fast.

But the folks there remain, living on whatever ends they can. Many of them have been in FEMA trailers for upwards of a year, while their house stood battered and beaten with no work being done to rebuild. There are places in the city where people live in a communal setting in tents, and there are countless homeless, living out of their backpack.

Our mission was straightforward: go into the city and rebuild houses for folks, while showing them God’s love. We started out with this:

And ended up with this:

In between those two, there was a whole bunch of this:

And this:

And this:

And somehow, there was also this:

We left some marks on the place, in hopes of inspiring the next crew to come in, as well as the homeowners themselves.


The main point of the week.


Take a look at this building, and then take a look at the church a little bit down. Same elevation for all intents and purposes. During the surge, the church was completely destroyed, while the cafeteria (pictured here) sheltered all of the church staff. As they prayed, the surge diverted itself away from the building. Not a drop of water got in to the cafeteria! Everything else in the area was slammed. Entire casino barges were lifted out of the water, over the trees, and landed thousands of yards inland. Yet the building and the workers inside were unscathed.

There were also all the Powerades and Cokes you could drink.

Some pictures of the main bridge (I-90) as it’s being reconstructed. It’s been a year and a half since the hurricane hit, remember.

New bridge.

Old bridge

.

3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. -Romans 5:3-5

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Happy Birthday to Me!

March 19, 2007

My birthday present from Jill couldn’t be any better; I get to see her for the first time in months! One week from now and I will be delightfully radiant!

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New Recruits

March 19, 2007

Check out who Michigan Tech recruited for the football team next year. See any familiar names? Like the Parmele brothers?

If Jalen is any indication, this bodes well for the Huskies!

Head over to http://www.michiganfoodways.org/ and check out some of the info on Michigan food culture.

Back Home

March 19, 2007

I’m back home, but just a visitor now it seems.

Look for a full rundown of the mission soon.

I’ll be in a stinky van, trapped for 25 hours straight, on my way to Biloxi cleanup in less than 24 hours. If you want to get in touch with me, I may have my cell phone on me, or I might not.

My Yooper fridge out on the balcony is melting, time to clean out the food I have stored in there.

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