People of the Moravian faith say the Christian denomination has always focused heavily on missionary work, but since Katrina the recipients of that good will have changed. This week volunteers from six Moravian churches in Wisconsin are here in South Mississippi.
Some people might consider leaving Wisconsin and heading to the Mississippi Coast to rebuild homes as a long way to travel, but not these volunteers. For them, a mission trip to Gulfport is more like going down the block.
"A lot of our work is done more long distance like Alaska, Nicaragua, Honduras," said volunteer David Palmer. "After Katrina we started concentrating on doing more homeland ministry and working where we can in the local communities. A thousand miles isn't local, but it's more local than out of the country."
The Moravians say the transition from world travelers to working closer to home has been a good one.
"Everyone I've come down here with has been totally changed," said Palmer. "They come down figuring we're going to do a lot of work and we're going to help these people. We always get served far more than we can ever serve the people we're helping."
Moravians are putting on a new roof, but many volunteers from several different states and denominations will have a hand in getting the house back in shape. They're all working under the direction of the North Carolina Baptist Men, who say the spirit of cooperation is what gives hope to those who lost so much.
Eddie Williams of North Carolina Baptist Men said, "I think that they realize now that God answers prayer. Because everywhere we go homeowners say, 'We've been praying for someone to come and help us and you guys show up.' So God answers prayer, you just have to be patient and in His time table."
The Moravian volunteers say they feel they're not only repairing homes, but also helping people rebuild their lives. Church officials say since Katrina, the Moravian Disaster Relief Program has made more than 50 mission trips.
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