SI Volunteers
In Their Own Words
Service International Volunteers Speak Out
New Orleans

"...One of the main things we learned was that to begin rebuilding a flooded house you have to first remove the damaged walls and furnishings . . . and clean out all the sludge and mud.  Everything has to be removed except the frame of the house.  Once it is clean you can begin rebuilding.  What I noticed was a parallel between the house and the homeowners.  When we first came, the homeowners --Joe and Karen--were persevering, but their hearts were damaged. The house looked hopeless--so much filth; it was overwhelming.  And yet, as we shoveled out the crud, wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow, I saw their spirits rise.  It was as if we were cleaning the bitterness and loss out of their hearts.  The fruit of our labor was giving them hope.   By the last day, they were smiling and laughing again.  We found Joe's wedding ring and their son’s baby shoes.  We were able to work side by side with them to take out the final barrels of dirt and debris.  Now they can begin rebuilding their lives as they rebuild their house."

"This trip showed me how a mountain can be removed with small steady actions and a team of committed people."
"Whatever I gave, I received 100 times back from residents and from my teammates."
"Cooking is one of my talents. I am not any good with a hammer, but the kitchen I can handle."
"When I told my co-workers I was taking my vacation in Biloxi doing disaster relief, they wondered what there was to do down here. They knew there was devastation, but they don't know the depth of it . . . There's joy in helping others."
"We met an 83-year-old man walking with a cane near the beach. He cried about the things he lost. His name is Uncle Bob and he just wanted to talk. So we walked awhile with him."
"Twelve years ago, I owned 66,000 sq. ft. of building space that was covered by 8 feet of water. It was hard to go through, but Service International helped us. It looked hopeless, but they gave me hope. Now I come on these trips to help others. It really is better to give than receive. This was a great week!"
"I feel like I have discovered the secret to happiness: giving and serving."
"I was a horrible camper and not a kitchen person. Now I am totally addicted to it."
"At home in Wisconsin, I saw a homeowner (Jean) being interviewed on the Joyce Meyer broadcast and it touched my heart. When Jean talked about SI she said, 'Without them I couldn't get through this.' That's why my husband and I are here."
"This was my first trip. I had no idea what to expect. Working with Walt [teammate] has opened my eyes. We all have different skills, but we all have one heart: to serve. I am coming back and bringing my friends."
"I love SI and the spirit of it all. It's a great organization. It's love in action, extending God's love through muscles and sweat."
"I am overwhelmed by people [here in Mississippi] who, even in their devastation, have been so loving."
"A month ago, I worked in New Orleans. I had no idea how bad it was here too—mile after mile and as far as five miles inland. To come with a wonderful group, great leaders, very organized, great food—I have been so rewarded here."
"Every morning I look into my teammates' eyes and I see determination. Every day I look into homeowners' eyes and I see gratitude."