Right now I'm waiting for the news to come on so I can see our ceremony. The newspaper was there as well as the local ABC affiliate. I'm so glad I didn't put on any mascara today...cried....
The ceremony first of all honored John McRae. He's such a good man, a retired Army chaplain. When he was called by a friend to do this job he said he could give it a few months. Well, he's been doing it for 10 months. Finally he's going to be able to go back to Maryland and be with his family. His wife OkHee is here and only bought a one way ticket. She's riding home with him in the car to ensure he actually makes it.
The staff gave John beautiful gifts, but the real beauty was what they said about him and how they feel about him. It was very touching. Around 30 people attended the ceremony. They also had this awesome symbol made--it's hard to explain. But a staff member named Tony climbed a dead water oak tree (dead from the storm), and he cut off a piece of a limb. The tree has been determined to be 500 years old. Amazing enough, huh? Then he burnt our company name in it--Lutheran Social Services Disaster Response. It was put into a base, and on the base it says "Turning Tragedy Into Triumph." On the side it says "John McRae May 2, 2006 thru March 9, 2007." Next to it is another sign, "Jerilyn Dufresne March 9 thru ___." I get to keep it in my office. What an honor.
What a moving symbol of what we do here--the 500 year old tree has been here long before we came, but we're here now and will continue to be here until we're no longer needed. I'll post pictures Monday when someone gives them to me.
It was awesome today. People who are here because they feel God has called them to do this work. It's a privilege to work with them.