Once all the LMS quilts were loaded, then we could evaluate what was left, and package gift bags for the 35+ families in our own hotel that had been displaced by the flooding. Much like the day before, we had complete cooperation from hotel staff to protect the privacy of the residents, but give us enough information so that we could give appropriate quilts. As we approached the end of Day Three, we had done such a great job of distributing quilts as a team that we really had a limited supply of adult men and women's quilts left. But it is always a "fishes and loaves" thing with God, and we have sufficient to meet all the needs He brings us. We spent the rest of the morning calling preschools and daycares, arranging to deliver the rest of our children's and infant's quilts the following day. We had about 200 "elementary" aged children's quilts left and we just weren't sure yet where they would go. But half the team was leaving in the morning, and we were trusting that a delivery location would appear.
I do not have a single picture at Lincoln Middle School, in west Port Arthur. Out of respect for school policy of no pictures of students, I just left my phone in the van, as did Dennis. But OH MY GOODNESS...the sight of that stage with quilts stacked 10 deep in 60 piles across the entire stage...and then another row of gorgeous quilts for teachers and staff. And then the sight of those students filing in, one class at a time, to sit in those old wooden folding seats that we had in my high school auditorium (ugh) brought back so many memories. The cacophony of kids talking that weren't supposed to be talking, teachers demanding quiet that just wasn't going to appear prematurely, and the underlying vibration of excitement and anticipation. Teachers and staff hugging us, so grateful to be remembered. Story after story of flood rescues, living in campers, hotels, with family or friends. The local school board coming to thank us. And then the complete respect the student body showed for their principal when she called them to attention! It was beautiful. Kids began filing across the stage, choosing between two or three quilts we held up for them (based on gender, and random chance)...the whispered thank yous, the grateful hugs, pausing for their teacher to snap a quick picture with an ear to ear grin full of bravado...
And then the end of day. Kids filing out to the bus with their quilt wrapped over their shoulders or clutched tightly to their chest. Teachers coming back in to thank us again, and choose for their younger children from the pile remaining. Staff choosing for the faculty that were absent, or for children that were out, so that no one would feel left out or forgotten.
I have to say, it was a little picture of heaven. Everyone loved. Everyone blessed. God glorified.
We finished that beautiful night with a great dinner of Mexican food, and a sad goodbye to the members of our team that had to start their trips back the next morning. We planned a "divide and conquer" sort of day for Friday, with deliveries in far ranging communities. It did not disappoint.