It smells like hope
December 14 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

It smells like hope | Friday, Dec. 14, 2001

Friday, Dec. 14, 2001

It smells like hope

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor When I first arrived at New York's "Ground Zero" on Pearl Harbor Day, I was mentally prepared for the smell. News accounts and anecdotal reports from the site of the World Trade Center's attack and collapse spoke of acrid air filled with the sharp scents of molten metal and plastic, of scorched earth and swirling concrete dust and other unthinkable odors. When they gave me a respirator, I gladly prepared it for use. But, the fires appear to have gone out now. The wind was blowing and the air, even at ground level, was not unlike that of happier days in New York.

Which is not to say that my olfactory sensitivities were not assaulted - but it was by Clorox and Windex and Miracle Formula 409. Baptists from around the country, including many from North Carolina, have worked hard to offer the gift of hope by cleaning apartments and simply being present with people far away who suddenly seem like kin.

On the 26th floor of a high-rise in the Gateway complex, past a door that had been battered in by search teams looking for a hijacked plane's "black box," I met a crew that included Magalene Lloyd, from Inwood Baptist Church in Raleigh. Magalene has done hurricane recovery work at several sites in eastern North Carolina and flood relief work in West Virginia. She helped close down the N.C. feeding unit at the Pentagon, and now she was carefully wiping away dust from pictures of people she didn't know.

Back in Brooklyn, the smell was of biscuits in the oven and hot food on the table. Miller Garrison, of First Baptist in Stanley, was the "blue hat" for the seven-person kitchen crew. He fell in love with missions during a construction trip to Brazil, he said. Since then he has traveled to North Korea, Honduras and Latvia, along with 19 trips to Ukraine. Disaster relief after hurricanes and tornadoes has taken him to Florida, Illinois and eastern North Carolina. "I just feel like this is what God called me to do," said Miller, now 72.

Peggy, Miller's wife, had never done anything but office work, she said, until Miller came back from his first trip to Brazil. "He was so changed," she said, "I wanted to go, too." The next year they helped build a missionary residence in Alaska, and both were hooked on missions.

"I just hope we can help the people who've lost so much, to give them a little hope," she said.

Out in the sorting tent and the two laundry units, the smell was of detergent and fabric softener and warm clothing freshly folded. Beddie Tarlton oversaw the laundry crew. She had been in New York since the day after the attacks, leaving her temporary home in Grifton to work as on-site coordinator for North Carolina's mission teams. Husband Billy held the fort in Grifton, where they have been heading up recovery efforts since Hurricane Floyd came through in 1999, but he also made several trips to New York.

Home for the Tarltons is in Wingate, but they don't see it often. They've been involved in full-time mission work for the past several years, and go wherever they're needed. The assignment in Grifton is expected to end in June 2002, and they're wondering where God will send them next.

"We just fully depend on God that He'll open the door when the opportunity arises," Billy said. "It used to be that self said where self wanted to go," he said, "but we've learned that where you go doesn't really matter. You've got to be satisfied whether He sends you to Grifton or New York or Honduras or whatever. I'm just excited and blessed to know that God will use us."

The Tarltons miss seeing their three grown children and several grandchildren, though they talk to them often. It's hard to miss things like the grandchildren's birthday parties, but "I'd rather the children know the Lord is first in our lives," Billy said. "You love God first, and He'll take care of everything else."

I brought my respirator home unused.

The smells of New York were the smells of hope - and not just for New Yorkers. Wherever I find Baptists whose primary goals are ministry and missions, it smells like hope for us, too.

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12/14/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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