GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–What would you call a parking lot full of tractor trailers, propane tanks, tables, cooking pots, food containers, Red Cross emergency response vehicles and lots of people with yellow hats scurrying about? Some might say the cooking site of the Top of Texas disaster-relief team looks like chaos, but those in the know say, “Welcome.”
The parking lot behind Holcomb Auditorium at the Glorieta conference center was a virtual beehive of activity May 17, for example, as the volunteers from the unit based in Plains and others from the Permian Basin unit from Odessa, Texas, prepared dinner for fire fighters and evacuees of the massive Cerro Grande Fire that ripped through Los Alamos one week earlier.
The Texas Baptists planned to stay at least through the weekend to prepare meals for the ongoing relief effort.
It’s an impressive sight as everyone does their jobs, which include opening hundreds of cans of food, keeping propane flames lit, stirring large cooking pots, washing dishes and throwing away trash. No job is more important than another; teamwork is the number one priority.
The Red Cross provided the food and paper goods, and the disaster relief teams, sponsored by Texas Baptist Men, provided the means and manpower to prepare the meals.
For some of the volunteers, this was their first time to minister during a disaster. But not for Bill Wright, a former pastor of First Baptist Church, Anthony, N.M., and now pastor of First Baptist Church, Plains, whose disaster relief work has spanned three decades.
Several of the Plains unit volunteers are members of Wright’s church, including his wife, Linda, his daughter, Kay, and her husband, Jered Sellers.
Sellers, the unit’s “blue cap,” heads up the unit. He spent his youth in Seminole, Texas, where he was baptized by the editor of the Baptist New Mexican, John Loudat, who, at the time, was his pastor at South Seminole Baptist Church.
The “blue cap” from the Odessa unit, Alan Harrington, served as the liaison between Sellers and the Red Cross.
Harrington told the volunteers that their main goal is to spread the love of Jesus Christ. They prepare the food with love, package it with more love and then put it in the hands of the Red Cross workers, who transfer it to those waiting for the meals.
After loading the Red Cross ERVs with dinner May 17, Harrington asked the Red Cross site director if he could lead in a word of prayer. The OK was given, and Harrington prayed for the safety of the drivers and staff, and a peace of mind and calmness for all the volunteers.
The Baptist volunteers spent much of the afternoon talking about the many opportunities they had to witness to the Red Cross volunteers. They were clearly aware that as they were busy cooking meals they were also planting seeds for Christ.
Two New Mexico men, Jimmy Boyce of Artesia and Carl Russell of Socorro, saw firsthand how the disaster relief teams work and expressed interest in starting a unit for the state’s Baptists.
Vaughn is the circulation manager at The Baptist New Mexican newsjournal.
Additional (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library. Photo titles: REFRESHING RELIEF and ADDING IT UP.