Detour

The older I get the faster time passes. It seems like only yesterday I was learning I would be a father. And now, my son is teaching other people’s children, lives 2 states away, and doesn’t ask for money. Not that is not a bad thing, but it seems too soon, too much change.

Stephen, Elizabeth, Granddaddy, Susanna, Meridy, The Hog Father

And that is not all, my second child, my first daughter has already completed college and is trying to land that “first job” and launch into her full-fledged adult life. My second daughter, child #3, is on her way to the halfway mark in college. My number 4 child, daughter #3 is in middle school, attends summer camp for the 3rd year, was in Honor Band spending all weekend doing “her thing” in band unsupervised by parents. Child #5, daughter number 4 (Yes, I swim in a sea of estrogen in my home) is about to turn 8. I have been married for 13 years (second marriage) and am in my 23rd year of full-time ministry.

And yet, it seems like only yesterday that I learned I would be a father, decided that God was leading me to a full-time experience of ministry. And it all comes into sharp focus after the storms of last week.

All across the south and east, numerous massive storms and tornados crossed the land. Many were killed, many more were devastated by the damage to land, forests, businesses, homes, livestock, and other material losses. Not to mention the massive numbers of lives that have been changed forever by the experience, loss of items that carry family traditions, heritage, and memories.

Senoia UMC (the church I am privileged to serve), along with the Optimist Club of Senoia turned their energies to helping children & youth effected by this latest series of harsh weather.

Taking direction from Manchester First UMC (located in the midst of the destruction in their area), these two groups combined their resources. The Optimist Club of Senoia provided the funds to purchase the supplies to feed 400 students at the Mountain View Elementary School outside Manchester, GA. Their school is so damaged that it is closed for the remainder of this year. Due to the low economic situation in this community, almost all students received free breakfast & lunch. Senoia UMC members brought part of the labor force, and along with members of the Optimist Club built the sandwiches. 

Spearheaded by Senoia UMC member & Optimist Club member, Linda Martin; an assembly line was formed and materials secured and lined up at the church. Together, the 2 groups prepared 662 Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, 324 “Cuties” (citrus fruit), 14 extra loaves of bread, 247 apples, a LARGE box of grapes, 71 packages of cookies and extra peanut butter, and thanks to LSG Sky Chefs they received 400 Ham & Cheese sandwiches.

In addition, due to an unexpected gift from a local Hotel, they took  a large quantity of sheets, pillow cases, and duvet covers. These will help provide bedding for volunteers that will stay overnight.

I, along with Tony Bell (Optimist Club member), Ivie Bowman (Senoia UMC member & Congregational Nurse, Optimist member), Norma Asher (Administrative Assistant & Senoia UMC member) traveled to Manchester to deliver these resources. On the drive down it was amazing that we really didn’t see any evidence of the storms. As we got right at Manchester we saw one spot of damage to the trees, but you could not convince me that the storms had done much by what I saw.

After we delivered the resources to the Manchester First UMC, a point of contact with the local community and its recovery efforts, we headed back home by way of Warm Springs. We drove out to the Mountain View Elementary School. The roof was gone on the whole building. Three homes at the school looked like they had just exploded. As we headed out-of-town, we came to the place where the tornado has crossed the road. Trees were twisted off, blown down, it looked like something out of a bad movie.

It was good to know that we had provided what was needed, what those closest to the event knew was really needed. Later we will learn of other ways we can help. As I looked at the destruction I had to think about how quickly all of this had happened. And I had to ponder — just how do you begin when everything you ever had by way of material goods was broke, strewn, and tossed all over the whole neighborhood. I mean, where to you sleep, eat, work, go to school — use the bathroom? Basic questions that all of us just assume are answered in our lives. I mean, when is the last time you had to really think about or plan a trip to the bathroom? We plan trips for vacation, family gatherings, and such, but a basic need like this because access might not be there.

I know that this really doesn’t tie into my Blog premise of Motorcycles, Stop Hunger Now or Imagine No Malaria — but then it does. If you don’t understand the risks of riding, take every precaution, and use proper protective gear and “common” motorcycle ride can go badly really fast. I don’t’ know of any parent that has a child that foresees that child developing hunger related illnesses and maybe even dying. Every parent seeks to provide for their children.But sometimes even the best plans blow up and you are faced with dire situations that jeopardize lives. And as I sit in my yard watching my children play, I swat at mosquitos as annoyances. In parts of the world I would fear mosquitos as deadly because they would be carrying malaria. One mosquito bite could kill me or my child. And I understand from a friend who has been to that part of the world that a death due to malaria is horrible.

And it can happen to you or me or anyone we know — just that quick. And time can move REALLY quickly. Life can change in an instant. The good thing is that there are compassionate people all around. People that will share resources, food, shelter, clothing, transportation, equipment and many other things. People like the folks in the Optimist Club of Senoia, Senoia UMC, Manchester First UMC, and many, many others. What a wonderful blessing it is to live in such a country.

If you have the resources to help others that have been dealt such a devastating hand, may I suggest a couple of paths. One is to continue to send donations to our Stop Hunger Now efforts. We will be packaging 20,000 meals with the 6th Grade at East Coweta Middle School on May 27. We are half way to our goal of $5,000 to fund this event. If you can help send your donation to: ECMS-SHN Event, c/o Senoia UMC, PO Box 98, Senoia, GA 30276.

Or you can send financial contributions to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Donations can be made online or sent to the same address. The great thing is 100% of your gift goes directly to those in need in both instances. Other places to get involved can be found on our denominational website that is updated each day. I know that many that are seeing this blog are not United Methodist — some may not share a faith of any kind. That’s not the point. The point is common human compassion moves us to help.  These are secure, trusted paths to help and again — 100% gets to the place of need.

I urge you to not waste time. Choose to help today. Choose to take time to give, to support, to show compassion to those that were effected. AND – if you are one of those persons — surf to these sites and you will find points of contact for assistance.

Thanks for walking this journey with me. Thanks for those that have donated. Thanks for those that will donate. And choose to change the world — One child, one meal, one-quarter at a time.

Until the next time….The Hog Father

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2 Comments

  1. Suellen Reitz

    Hey Hog Father,
    Great handle! I want to congratulate you on your lenton promise made last year to eat only the Stop Hunger Now food bags during the lent period. Quiet an accomplishment! I am currently writing an article for the Pickens County paper about the Stop Hunger Now program, and I would love to include a quote from you.

    Our church, Jasper UMC is sponsoring a SHN event on April 28. Our minister mentioned in my interview with him that 4 pastors had made this committment last year. It really is a great thing you did. Could you tell me how much money was raised by your efforts? Chip thinks it was enough for 100,000 meals. I don’t want to misquote. Please let me know ASAP, as I would like to place the article in next weeks paper. Deadline for submission is Monday at noon.

    Thanks in advance,

    Suellen Reitz

    • Thank you for your kind words. Our experience was a wonderful time both personally and within our community. We raised enough funds to package 10,000 meals at 3 churches (Senoia UMC, Mt. Giliead UMC, Pleasant Grove UMC) and we did an additional 20,000 meals with the East Coweta Middle School 6th grade on the last day of school. This is a total of 50,000 meals.

      If I can be of further assistance, please feel free to call or email me. The Harley is always ready for a run to the mountains. Also, I just traveled to Nicaragua with Stop Hunger Now to visit several feeding centers (March 22-27). I have photos I can share.

      The Hog Father,
      AKA: Nathaniel

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