Chaplain Lee Ministering in Las Vegas...

Horrific day for the victims and victim families of the Las Vegas shooting... many have responded to assist.  I am spending the day working cooperatively with local, state and federal law enforcement, including Clark County coroner's office, and ministering to victim families. Overwhelming number of casualties, and overwhelming need for God's comfort... I have comforted, prayed with and for many, and have also helped with communication to and from families and law enforcement/coroner's office. Please pray for all affected by this terrible tragedy.

Field Report from Chaplain Lee during Hurricane Irma

Getting caught up on communication with you this morning... sending pics of yesterday's activities... brutally hot and humid.  (See Photo Gallery for pictures)

In summary, yesterday for the second day in a row I again went into what is called the "hot zone," this time all the way to Key West, assisting as needed based on my assessments as I traveled.

There are two major checkpoints into the Keys, one at the entrance to allow only residents, media and critical support in, and one at mile marker 74 on Highway 1 (main highway through the Keys), past which no residents may come, but only first responders and critical support, including me as a law enforcement chaplain with permission by emergency operations... note that some residents remained ("sheltered in place") in places like Key West, and therefore need assistance.

Even federal special agents who live in the hot zone past mm 74 are not presently allowed to return home.

As just one example of the support QRT receives, U.S. Coast Guard Islamorada Station Commander Bosun Eduardo Oropeza told me to contact him if I needed anything, and I reciprocated the offer.

I reconnected with several people I worked with the day before, including Seth Lawless, Islamorado City manager, to whom I gave a status update on issues of concern regarding San Pedro and Sea Breeze trailer parks.

As one other example of mutual support, the day before yesterday when I was at the Marathon EOC I networked with FL Reserve National Guard Chaplain Lance Sellon.

Yesterday I was assessing on site the Immanuel Lutheran Church and parsonage in Tavernier, when I was approached by church members Bill Klein and Brenda Cockrell, who advised that the church building had power and even working air conditioning, but that many in the surrounding neighborhood did not have power, including Brenda, who was suffering from the heat. We developed a plan to provide assistance, and I also gave Bill an assessment of the parsonage. I plan to return today to assist.

Yesterday for the first time I drove all the way to Key West to assist, including through the Keys where the Hurricane Irma eye wall hit... very devastated at that place.

On arrival in Key West, I focused on individual contacts at the street level with both Key West police officers and with residents (and also status checked Gordon and Darlene's favorite bar, Sloppy Joe's😊). While in front of Sloppy Joe's, I responded to a request for assistance from a Key West police officer regarding a suspicious person (please note I was not acting as an officer)... looting has been a problem in many affected areas.

I passed out bottled water to many people around Key West, and ministered as needed and able.

I also conducted a careful assessment of Grace Lutheran Church and school in Key West, which did sustain some damage.  I will be personally contacting the pastors of all three churches I have assessed, and provide them a report with pics.

As just one example of the street ministry I conducted, I gave a case of water to Bill and Mary Ann, and when I prayed with them Bill choked up with appreciative tears.

This morning, I spoke with John Elliott, Disaster Coordinator for LCMS, and provided him an assessment of the three LCMS churches in the Florida Keys.  Per his request, I will provide support for their efforts.

I also spoke with Pastor Stier of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Tavernier, Florida, and am bringing water to his church today.

Storm Chasing Harvey by Chaplain Steve Lee

Hurricane Harvey needed an “all hands on deck” response.  The Cajun Navy was out in force in the neighborhood below the Addicks Reservoir, rescuing people with their miscellaneous collection of personal watercraft.  I was welfare checking the neighborhood to see if anyone needed assistance, and encouraging and praying with folks as I went.  I couldn’t reach some homes on foot without a boat, but I could reach others if I stayed off the flooded streets and walked yard to yard instead.
One man was sitting on a folding chair in his open garage, listening to flood information on his radio while watching the floodwaters flowing by on the street right in front of his house.  “I been sittin’ here all day,” he told me.  “Should be okay…we’re above 108 feet here.”  I prayed he was right.
I started in Houston being on chaplaincy call for Houston PD Westside Command Station, but along with local QRT volunteers wound up chasing Harvey to East Texas—all the way to the Louisiana border.  Along the way I did a welfare check on a disabled retiree, and on two separate trips from Houston we drove more than three tons of drinking water (sometimes through floodwaters) to Beaumont nursing homes (Beaumont was surrounded by flood waters and lost its running water).  We then picked up two rescued horses in Orange County and drove them to a safe ranch hours away in the Fort Worth area, then picked up a large rental truck and more than four tons more water and drove back to where the storm originally came ashore in Rockport to deliver the water to a fire station for families of both victims and first responders…eight tons of water in all by the end of our deployment.  All along the way we prayed with folks and provided Gospel encouragement.
Disasters cause more than physical damage.  As I write this back in Chicagoland, while still picking up personal pieces from Hurricane Harvey, we are gearing up for possibly chasing Hurricane Irma.
During this past week God directed and provided in miraculous ways.  We had many divine encounters along the way.  Thanks for your prayers and support; here are some of my pictures of our work:

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Thank you for your support in 2016!

Dear Friends,

This inaugural year for the Quick Response Team has been--tragically--a busy one.  Beginning with our first deployment and continuing until now, QRT has responded to events across the country, beginning with our February deployment to Flint, Michigan, to bring 4 tons of bottled water to school children to give them safe drinking water, and then continuing in high gear and responding to help victims on-scene at tornadoes, floods, several horrific shootings, destructive wildfires and a hurricane...a very intense time of tragedy indeed, but also a time of blessing for those whose lives have been touched by our work, made possible by God's provision and your partnership.

My dedicated little church pays my salary, but every dime needed for our deployments and related expenses comes from our QRT donors.  I ask that you prayerfully consider making a year-end donation to our work.  Your gift is tax deductible.  You can donate online, or mail your check payable to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (write "QRT" on the memo line).

I have been honored to represent both Christ and you, our supporters, this past year.  I ask for your prayers and support for the year ahead.  God bless you in the New Year--Thanks!

Chaplain Steve Lee