Students Dedicate Fall Free Days to Hurricane Relief

For most students at Oklahoma Baptist University, Fall Break was a time to get away from the stress of school and relax. For Caroline Patterson and eight other students, the fall free days Oct. 16-17 were used to help Patterson's hometown, Galveston, Texas, after the devastating Hurricane Ike destroyed just weeks before.

Patterson teamed up with OBU's Avery T. Willis Center for Global Outreach (GO Center) and, together with GO Center director, put together the global outreach trip in less than two weeks. They prepared a team of students willing to dedicate their time to the project, teaming up with Galveston Bible Church and the Evangelical Free Church of America.

While in Galveston, the group helped gut three houses that had been demolished during the hurricane. The team removed all the belongings from the houses and helped tear down the walls and flooring. Along with helping gut houses, the group also had the opportunity to touch the lives of the Galveston residents.

"It feels like I've known you longer than a day," a thankful Galveston resident named Rudy told the team. Rudy spent his time sitting and watching the team sort through his belongings, telling the students about his life. A retired Coca-Cola employee, Rudy has been collecting Coca-Cola merchandise for more than 60 years.

As the team ended their time with Rudy, they were impacted by his thankfulness. Rudy offered each member of the team one of his collected Coke bottles. He told each student the story of each specific Coke bottle.

"An exchange of giving brought a team of 10 strangers close to a man who had lost everything but his heart," said Patterson.

"Through the Galveston trip, I was blessed to see that we are sisters and brothers in the same family from the Lord," said Sun Lee, a foreign exchange student form South Korea. "No matter the geographical difference, the economic gap, or the political issue between South Korea and the United States, we all have to be humble in front of Him. I am grateful to the Lord who is the way for all of us."

The team was also impacted by the volunteers of the relief teams.

"The fact that they give up there lives to do hard work in order to help people in need was very humbling to me," said Robert Williams, a senior from Alex, Okla. "Not only had they been there a month and counting, but the last three years they have been in New Orleans."

The GO Center helps send OBU students on several trips throughout the year including J-term, spring break and summer trips. The group responded to the trip, crediting God for the trip.

"God was faithful to see the trip through," Patterson said.