Thursday, January 12, 2006

Wednesday entry

President Roush writes:

We are up at 6:30 or so and on our way to the Salvation Army Command Center by 7:15. Once we arrive, all of us get “volunteered” to assist with cooking, cleaning up, loading up, etc. Then, we head for the five sites where we feed all comers. Yesterday, we served about 4,000 meals. The site where I worked with two students served over 1,000 meals in less than four hours. It was like being at a McDonalds where it was noon all the time. We were "slammed," as they say in the restaurant business.

As one might expect, there is dead time doing this kind of work. I had alerted the students to be prepared for high activity followed by standing around. I was right, though thus far the leadership of this operation has done a good job of keeping us on task. I have been immensely impressed with the full-time Salvation Army workers. These men and women are smart, humble leaders who serve others. For them, it is a commitment of faith.

Our group of 20-plus has been joined with a group of about 30 adults from the West. This group, all of whom come to this work through the Southern Baptist Convention, is a wonderful collection of people of good character and “characters.” They are a more adult bunch—most of them are retired and on the long side of 60. But, they are good people with hearts for service. It has been our pleasure to work alongside these folks. Some of our students are not so familiar with evangelicals, so it has been a good education for them to work with and be comfortable around men and women who “lead” with their faith. As we discussed briefly last night in class, it is valuable to be around such folks and recognize that their hearts are so good, though the manner in which they express their faith can sometimes catch you by surprise. This, too, has become part of the adventure.

I mentioned on Sunday night that our adults group of five had a chance to tour the Ninth Ward (hardest hit by the flooding). There we saw hundreds of homes that are completely destroyed. I cannot imagine that they will be restored. Much of this area was inhabited by poorer citizens without political clout. My guess is that the worst of this area – particularly the parts nearest the break in the levee – will be bulldozed. Regrettably, I suspect this is the right choice. But, the devastation goes way past these hardest hit areas. There are thousands and thousands of homes, now four months after the flooding, that are without electric and water – thus making these residences uninhabitable. We drove past miles and miles of homes where little or no work is being done. And, many of these neighborhoods were nice, some of them very, very nice. I do not know, of course, where all of this stands, but it is discouraging nonetheless.


I told the students last night – after day two – that I could not be prouder of their effort and their attitude. All 17 of them have stepped up. For many of them this is their first shot at emergency relief. They have been brilliant. I had high expectations for them. My expectations have been exceeded.

Our "Leadership in Crisis" class met last night at 7:30 p.m., right after dinner. We met for an hour to discuss the day, plus review Chapters 3-5 of John Gardner’s book. The conversation about the day and our plans for the week was excellent. The discussion regarding our readings was rather uninspired. It was clear all of them had read the material, but they were tired and distracted. Me, too. We finished about 8:45, in time for them to walk about camp, get some hot chocolate, and aim for bed around 10 or so.


Yes, the students are having fun. It is a different kind of fun, but fun. They have been especially supportive and encouraging of each other. They are starting a card “tournament” tonight. That should be interesting, as I insisted that they all play and that the teams be picked at random. I will probably award some “prizes” on this one, but have made no commitments on that just yet.

It is late, again. I gotta’ go.



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