Sunday, May 14, 2006

The BRICK Layers
I just went to the BRICK Layer's site and it looks fantastic! Not sure when it was overhauled, but it just gorgeous!
The following are links to photos of projects they've finished. Very inspiring!
From any of these links, you can take a look at their ongoing projects.

Hey Leslie. I just sent my 16th mission team to Pearlington this weekend. I didn’t go with them this time, but my family and I will be spending Thanksgiving in Pearlington.

The BRICK Layers of Huntsville, AL will be traveling to Pearlington, MS for their 15th mission trip. Joining us this time will be Trinity Methodist Church from Huntsville, Flint River Baptist Church from Hazel Green, AL, and Bill and Colleen’s group from Livingston, TN. We will meet up with Larry’s group from Houston, TX. We will continue construction on over 20 homes as well as doing some landscaping. We hope to put the finishing touches on the Ladner house that we started building from the ground up in June.
We will also be landscaping the entrance to the Oak Harbor Subdivision in memory of Capt. Harry Bell. We also hope to have a special time of praise and worship on the beach to thank God for all that He has blessed us with this past year.
Jennifer Johnson
BRICK Layers (Believers Rebuilding In Christ's Kingdom)
Huntsville, AL
REBUILDING PEARLINGTON... one brick at a time

July 23 Update

If you’ve been to Pearlington once, twice, or ten times, there is a distinct feeling that you can’t deny. It feels like coming home. And God is the co-pilot.

I don’t think that I can accurately describe to you how I feel God’s presence as we plan for each trip and as we work in Pearlington. Warren Tidwell knows. He described his and his father’s first drive into Pearlington to deliver George and Margaret’s doors and windows as “magical.” There are so many tales to tell from the last 10 months, but some of the most obvious signs happened this past week. In my lifetime I have been a member of two different churches – Willowbrook Baptist and Latham Methodist, both from Huntsville, Alabama. While sitting in Café du Monde last Wednesday sipping coffee and eating beignets with my Willowbrook friends, I looked at the table right next to us. The man sitting at the table looked so familiar that I had to ask him where he was from. As I approached the table, I began to recognize more faces. It turns out that the youth group from Latham was doing mission work in Slidell and had chosen that day to come to New Orleans, to eat at Café du Monde, to sit at the table next to us. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

I have been on mission trips to two places this summer – Alaska and Pearlington. While in Alaska we worked at camp Laverne G. There was one other group working there – a small group from Florida. They were delightful. Our groups bonded instantly. While we were still at Laverne G, a group of 4 ladies walked in. I was curious about one lady wearing a New Orleans t-shirt, so I asked her. This group of ladies runs the Baptist Friendship House in New Orleans. They invited us to park at their facility when we visited New Orleans. So last Wednesday, we were reunited with these ladies that I had met in Alaska and parked in their parking lot. A while later, walking down the streets of New Orleans, a group had on “FBI” shirts. I was trying to read what FBI stood for….First Baptist I……I didn’t get to the last word before I saw the face. “You look so familiar. Where do I know you from?” My daughter Meg jumped in, “Yeah, I’ve seen you before…wait….Alaska….you were the group at Laverne Griffin.” It was true. They were the group from Florida on a mission trip in New Orleans. I’ve stopped believing in coincidences. In one day on the streets of New Orleans while doing His work, God placed us with the only two groups that we had met while doing His work at Laverne Griffin camp in Alaska. It is one way that God says to me, “Keep living in my will. Keep doing my work. Keep on keeping on.”

Coming to Pearlington doesn’t seem like mission work. It’s more like coming home. Harry and Nancy B were one of the first families to show us this. It was my birthday in November when I first met them. They treated me to the most amazing shrimp boil and birthday cake I have ever had…..and they did it all from their FEMA trailers. Once Harry and Nancy moved back into their house, if you went to visit, you better not knock. You better know that you just come on in….like family. And you better be hungry, because there was always food around and it was going to be offered to you, and you better say yes. This past week, we had to lay Harry’s body to rest. It was one of the hardest things to do because it was like losing one of my own family members. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Harry’s soul is celebrating in heaven and that one day I will be there with him. And I better not knock. I better just walk right in. And I know that there will be plenty of food offered to me and I better say yes. And then there are the Ladner’s. If I could choose an additional set of grandparents for my children, it would be tough to choose from those that I have met in Pearlington, but George and Margaret would be at the top of the list. We share in their excitement as they watch their new home being built. And when one of them isn’t feeling well, we hurt with them just as their children do. When I met their daughter Claudia and her family for the first time this weekend, it was as if we had known each other all of our lives. All of the residents make us feel like this. We laugh with them. We cry with them. We celebrate with them. I guess that sleeping on someone’s concrete slab with exposed 2 x 4’s all around you, and eating jambalaya or red beans and rice surrounded with half finished construction projects has created a special bond that can’t be beat.

So many things look different since my first visit to Pearlington when trees still blocked the streets and everything was brown. Brown with mud. Brown due to loss of vegetation. Now you can see new roofs, new construction, new sheetrock and new paint. The brown is slowly being replaced by green. New growth, a little grass. Many are moving back into their homes. The community is coming together like never before to rebuild. And yet, some things remain the same. There are still some houses that haven’t been touched. Still piles of debris on the side of the road. There is still so much to do.

So keep coming to Pearlington. Keep encouraging others to participate. But in the business of your preparations, don’t forget to take the time to be still and know that He is God. Don’t forget to take the time to ask Him what His will for your involvement is. And if you listen very carefully you will hear Him whisper, “Keep on keeping on.”

Jennifer Johnson
“Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart as working for the Lord, not for men.” Colossians 3:23
BRICK Layers (Believers Rebuilding In Christ's Kingdom)
Huntsville, AL
REBUILDING PEARLINGTON... one brick at a time

The History of The BRICK Layers

September when our church, Willowbrook Baptist, began ministering to the people who had evacuated to Huntsville because of Katrina, I became involved with some of the families there and those who had transferred into my daughters’ school, Huntsville Middle School. I began to use the skills that God gave me and the resources that I knew of in our church and community to help find housing, furniture and household goods for some of these families. What I found was that the residents of Huntsville were very open and willing to do whatever was needed to meet the needs of the evacuees. I was blessed to witness as the people of Huntsville gave from their hearts.

I work with the 8th grade girls at Willowbrook on Sunday nights. I asked them if they would like to do a mini extreme makeover in an apartment for the C family from Harvey, Louisiana. The 10th grade girls joined us and, with very little money and lots of donations, Courtney B (interior designer) and I guided this group of girls and some adults to completely create bedrooms for the son, Terry and the daughters, Zebreiona and Sasha. The children LOVED it.

But we still had one problem. The family had an apartment in Harvey, LA that still had some furniture in it. We knew that the upstairs bedrooms had been ruined when the roof of the apartment was partially blown off by the storm. That is why we did the bedrooms for the children. But we thought there might be some furniture to salvage downstairs. So I sent out an email asking if anyone had a truck to drive down to Harvey. Mark J answered my email. He and Ray M offered to drive down and pick up the furniture.As time got closer, I couldn’t stand them going without me, so on September 23, my husband dropped me off on Rideout Road with two men that I had never met before (Mark and Ray). But we trusted that God was going to take care of me. On the way to Harvey, LA, Mark said that he had some supplies that his church had collected for the tiny little forgotten town of Pearlington, Mississippi. When we drove into the town, we were detoured around the roads because so many were still blocked with debris and fallen trees.

When we turned the corner, the first building we saw was the First Southern Baptist Church. It broke our hearts to see the building stripped down to the studs and concrete flooring. We dropped off the supplies at Charles B. Murphy Elementary School, which had been turned into an Emergency Distribution Center. As we left town, I called one of the families that we were helping get placed in Huntsville.

Jeannie asked me, “Where have you been?”

“Oh, this tiny little town of Pearlington, MS.”

There was silence for a moment and Jeannie said, “That’s where I grew up. That’s where my mom, dad and sister live. Where did you go?”

I answered, “To the Distribution Center at Charles B. Murphy Elementary.”

Jeannie’s reply, “That’s where I went to school.”

We had no idea at that time that God was leading us on an incredible journey. Since then, 90 individuals from all over North Alabama have come together to help with the restoration efforts in Pearlington. We have had support from several churches, including Willowbrook Baptist, Whitesburg Baptist and Trinity. Rob P, John L and Ron L from the Madison Baptist Association have been very supportive of our efforts. Bonnie B is one of our volunteers. She teaches at Grissom High School. With the support of her faculty, she created “Hoops for Hancock” and with Grissom students playing a tournament of “hoops” was able to raise $4,000 for Hancock High School (where the Pearlington residents attend high school).

With our website, we are getting letters and donations from many different states.

We call ourselves BRICK Layers (Believers Rebuilding In Christ’s Kingdom) and our motto is REBUILDING PEARLINGTON…one brick at a time. We get our inspiration from Nehemiah. When the walls of Jerusalem fell, Nehemiah began to rebuild the walls one brick at a time. The people told him to come down from the wall, that he was wasting his time. He said he could not, he would not come down for he was doing a great thing for the Lord.

At times we feel like our efforts are so small when compared to the amount of destruction that has been done. But when we think of Nehemiah, each supply drive, each mission trip, each plea for help that we make becomes one more brick of hope as we REBUILDING PEARLINGTON…one brick at a time.

So far we have made 10 mission trips to Pearlington. We have our next 5 trips planned through October. Each time we go to Pearlington, we take each family one step closer to living a normal life in a normal home. We work with the other volunteer organizations there. What we have found is that it is the volunteers from faith based organizations who are making the most progress on the Gulf Coast. But what we have found most true is that we go down to the Gulf Coast to bless the people who live there, but we find is that they bless us tenfold.

This has been a life changing experience for many of us and our families…an experience that we wouldn’t change for anything. Our biggest dream will come true June 24 when a team from Pennsylvania led by John Long will frame a house for George and Margaret L, who have grown very dear to our hearts. You can read about George and Margaret on our website . The students of Whitesburg Academy are currently purchasing lumber for the framing of George and Margaret’s home. The children will write words of encouragement and scriptures on the lumber.

If anyone would like to make tax deductible donations that will go directly to the rebuilding of Pearlington, checks made out to the Madison Baptist Association can be sent to their office, 2318 Whitesburg Drive, Huntsville, AL 35801. This money does not go for administrative costs. It goes directly to buying building supplies for the people of Pearlington. Pearlington is always in need of skilled workers such as plumbers, electricians, sheetrock hangers, roofers. If you or your group would like to take a group of skilled workers to Pearlington, please search our website for more information.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.” 1John 3:18

Won’t you join us in our efforts to REBUILDING PEARLINGTON…one brick at a time?

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