Members of the Pascagoula Ward spent the 2005 Christmas season scrubbing sludge. Our minds and bodies were exhausted while trying to clean the sludge and sewage from the house, or trying to stand in the 500-people lines for the Red Cross or FEMA paper work over and over and over again. Every day was spent trying to dig through debris and tend to health needs and life's necessities.
My husband made it a special point to provide Christmas for us. He put up a Christmas tree and an outside Nativity scene early to try to get us in the mood between stressful days. He hung the American flag. Looking back, I can't remember what we ate, or what gifts we got. I know the gifts were all practical and useful since so much had been lost.
We are grateful for the food, supplies and encouragement that we received from the Church. We are grateful that lives of our congregation were saved, even though they may have lost their homes and belongings. We are grateful for the loving and caring of all the volunteers from across the nation who came to help clean up after the sewage, sludge, mold, and mildew had done their damage. And we are grateful for all the volunteers who helped repair homes and lives. We are grateful to those who came from out of state to help with the utilities, law enforcement and medical services which had their facilities flooded.
It was beautiful to see the various Christian denominations working together in harmony and feel the Christian spirit of all the churches of various denominations who poured their hearts and sweat into helping mankind. We were overwhelmed by the generosity that enveloped us. We were greatly blessed by our Heavenly Father. He had not forgotten us! How grateful we were that Jesus had been born, and given us hope regardless of the trials.
The Spirit was very tender at our ward Christmas services.
We met in a stripped building and sat on folding chairs on bare concrete. In the words of Bishop Jay Taylor, "We all thought of our beloved Savior and drew closer to Him than ever before. We didn't worry about material things, but more so of our love for each other. You see, we are now helping each other to recover. I truly needed help and our brethren and sisters did not forget us. Merry Christmas to you and to all."