Before Hurricane Katrina, Mountain Park Church of Lake Oswego and Slidell, La. were totally unacquainted.

Now they have a firm bond of friendship and gratitude after the work of 15 men from Mountain Park on rebuilding in Slidell, which was almost totally devastated by the hurricane.

Mountain Park's effort was formally recognized when Bruce Efferson, a member of the First Baptist Church of Slidell, came to Lake Oswego to present certificates of service to the church and its pastor Greg Borrer. Plus each man who went on the mission received a pin.

'We had a good time,' said Mountain Park's Fred Goodwin, who went on two of the four trips to Slidell.

It all started with an Internet search six months after Hurricane Katrina struck in later summer 2005. A Southern Baptist church badly needed help.

'Our first group said it was total chaos,' Goodwin said. 'There were boats in trees, total destruction. Slidell had been hit by a wall of water 8 feet deep from Lake Pontchartrain.'

The Mountain Park men decided to zero in on helping one lady, Mary Gorgon, who had literally lost everything.

Goodwin told of standing beside Gorgon at the site of her devastated home.

'She was so much in shock,' Goodwin said. 'There were big piles in front of her house, and she noticed this earring. She said, 'That was from my favorite pair of earrings.' '

Starting literally from nothing, the Mountain Park missionaries transformed Gorgon's home from being completely destroyed to being completely rebuilt.

'She was wonderful,' Goodwin said. 'She was really thankful and grateful.'

They got a huge assist from the folks back in Lake Oswego. Mountain Park Church members contributed $50,000 toward the rebuilding.

The Mountain Park men got a lot of help themselves from Efferson, whom they nicknamed 'Bruce Almighty.' Efferson lost his trucking rig due to Hurricane Katrina. Yet his main effort went into rebuilding the First Baptist Church of Slidell, and he proved to be of great service to the Oregon men.

'He was an amazing man,' Goodwin said. 'He did a whole lot for us, including having catfish frys.'

Goodwin is happy to note that about 'two-thirds of the town is back in operation. Slidell was different from New Orleans. A lot of their people didn't leave. They wanted to rebuild.'

For more information call Mountain Park Church at 503-635-3443. It is located at 40 McNary Parkway in Lake Oswego.

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