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Welcome to 2TheHeart!

This is a very special issue of 2TheHeart! I know how much the collective hearts of Americans are hurting in the aftermath of the hurricane and all the suffering it left behind. Although much pain has come out of this tragedy, so much good has also continuously poured forth from every state in the Union to our beloved southern citizens. I believe that tragedies do bring out the good in most people and today I am happy to share two stories that illuminate the true hearts of the American people. Please continue to pray.

"Love Among the Ruins"

Trenise Williams and her fiance were going to be married in New Orleans just hours before Hurricane Katrina unleashed catastrophic damage on the Gulf Coast.

They fled the area instead and "With the snap of an eye, I lost everything," Trenise said. The only remnants of the wedding-to-be was a marriage license she tucked into her purse.

She and Joseph Kirsh joined about 3,000 other refugees at the Mississippi Coliseum shelter about 190 miles north of New Orleans.

Shelter resident Rochelle Smith, a Jackson-area woman who was already homeless before the storm, heard of Williams' plight on Thursday and decided that a lack of wedding dress or cake wasn't going to stop the couple from having their special day.

On Saturday, the couple were married.

As children played and weary survivors slept, Trenise and Joseph exchanged vows before an Episcopalian minister and a crowd seated in folding chairs. Some snapped photos with instant cameras, while others used camera phones to capture the moment.

The ceremony couldn't approach what the couple had originally planned, but they were touched by the outpouring.

"It's beautiful," said Trenise's mother, Evelyn. "It's real hard; we lost everything at once."

Homeless Rochelle Smith took on the role of wedding planner, coordinating donations from local businesses, including jewelry and shoes. Others donated hair and makeup services, a traditional dress and five lilac bridesmaid gowns.

The couple approached local entrepreneur Bob Ford, who owns Sanctuary Golf Club in Brandon. Ford and his wife, Joyce, were cooking food for shelter residents throughout the week. Ford helped finance the ceremony.

"We want to uplift everyone here ... give people something to live for," Bob Ford said.

To see Trenise and Joseph's wedding photo, visit the link at 2TheHeart with today's date!


"Hope Rising"
by Michele Starkey

There is something so wonderful, so resilient about the human spirit. It raises above the ashes of the tragedy of 911, above the sinking ships in Pearl Harbor, the earthquakes on the West Coast and it is by no means limited to the American spirit. One needs only to take a look at the Tsunami victims as they rebuild their cities to understand the fact that all life is worth living and the efforts to survive. It is the ability for humans to look up and lift up, the awesome power of hope. Hope for a better day. Hope that the sun will shine again - and it always has. Hope that the good inside of every human being will always outweigh the evil in a few men.

Hope will rebuild New Orleans and Biloxi. Hope will rekindle the fire inside of a devastated people and a destroyed city. There will be hope that help will arrive and it is coming. In the form of an Engine company from NYC that has experienced search and rescue teams and the will to drive eighteen hours to a ravaged part of our country. Help in the form of thousands of donations pouring in through the Red Cross, Samaritan's Purse and other not-for-profit organizations. Help will arrive, time will heal, and hope will allow the people to persevere.

A friend of mine sent an email that stated the following: A bumblebee will die inside of an open jar. It will never try to escape because it will not look up. It will bump into the sides of the glass repeatedly and consistently. It will die inside of an open jar. Thank God we have been given the ability to look up. We have hope.

Michele Starkey copyright September 2005  

Michele Starkey is a brain aneurysm survivor who is living life to the fullest with her husband, Keith. She is thankful to God for the second chance at life she has been given. Her previous stories, "Seymour Shuffles" & "Spare Change" are found on 2TheHeart.


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Due to the intensity and volume of mail at 2TheHeart, the Letter Box will be postponed until a special issue very soon!


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