Over Fall Break a group of Baylor students went to Rockport, TX to help with Hurricane Harvey relief. Elijah Tanner, a student at Truett Seminary and a Resident Chaplain, helped lead this trip, he also led a Hurricane Harvey relief trip last year. He sat down with Baylor Missions to explain what Hurricane Harvey relief efforts look like a year later.
Who are you and what got you involved with this trip?
I’m Elijah Tanner the Resident Chaplin at the Teal Residential College. In fall of 2017, I had a group of students interested in a service learning trip, and then Hurricane Harvey hit, so it made sense that we serve the area affected. I wanted students to think long-term about service goals, so I was excited when we had the opportunity to return a year later.
Tell me more about what you and your team did in Rockport over Fall Break 2018?
Students from two populations on Baylor’s campus, Teal and Engineers with Mission, came together to form one big group. We went to Rockport, TX and partnered with Hands of Hope in continued hurricane relief efforts. We picked up whatever needed to be done, including trash clean-up of debris from hurricane and roof protection.
What was it like to return to Rockport a year later?
It was surprising to see how long-term the clean-up is, while Hurricane Harvey is not thought about every day in Waco there is still a lot to be done in Rockport. We met a woman whose insurance claim has not come through yet.
Do you think the area affected by Hurricane Harvey is completely recovered? What can be done to help these efforts?
Being present and providing resources is essential. It affected so many people and having people join them in the efforts is encouraging. The community will be doing most of the work and providing resources for the community will help make it possible. I would encourage people to partner with organizations and churches in the community is important.
What do you think students learned on this trip?
- That our community extends beyond Baylor. Pushing the boundaries of what communities mean.
- The difference between treating something like a mission trip and a service learning trip. Community efforts are important and having partners in the community is essential. We are not just getting our volunteer fix, but we are partnering with people within the community. What we should get is a sense of humility and amazement at the people doing work within the community.
Why do you think this work is important for Baylor?
God commands us to and it’s a living out of our faith in a broad sense.
What surprised you the most about the trip?
I realized there were still people affected by the hurricane, but I was surprised to see how much that had weighed on people. We met a woman who thought she would never see the work done in her yard done and was so thankful to have people help her. After we helped her clean up her yard, she said, “I have hope that I can do this now.”
What would you say to a student who is unsure about if they should go on a Baylor Mission Trip? Just go and then decide if you should go on a second one.
Kathleen Post is the Ministry Associate for Global Missions and a student at Baylor’s Truett Seminary.