Monday, January 2, 2006
Check out the State Newspaper Article Several months ago we started planning a mission trip to New Orleans. After much planning, replanning, recalculating, and flexibility, we are back. After sleeping on a gym floor with 90 other people, you'd think my own bed would provide a solid 14 hrs of good sleep. NOPE. I was wide awake @ 5am. I figured it was a good time to wash some clothes, answer some emails, DRINK SOME COFFEE, and blog a little. A group of our students and adults worked on this house. You can see the water line. The owner is a man named John. He had been coming back for months tring to clean what he could. Our crew helped him gut the house. They stripped it to the studs, bleached it down and removed the wondows. Hopefully, it will dry out but most likely even the stud work will have to be replaced. John lost everything. He told our crew to throw it all away, he was starting new. After the first day, he shook my hand and with a tear in his eye said, "It's going to be alright." After losing ALL he had, he found hope not from a group of students, but from Christ who gives more hope than we can ever imagine. We also partnered with Celebration Church to help with their relief center. Since the hurricane, thousands have come to receive a hot meal, groceries and clothes. The first 3 days were spent reorganising the tents, restocking the warehouse and filling the tents with all kinds of relief materials. The last day was the re-opening of the center and it was amazing. We met so many people and each had a story of devestation, but each saw a hope that only God could give. This hope didn't come from food our clothing. It came from God and His holy Spirit. It came from his people. We helped repair sheetrock and built staging for the school at Celebration Church. We helped feed relief workers and will hopefully be able to send back some money for some equipment to be used by the Student ministry. We met new people from Maryland, Canado, California and Texas all coming together for the same purpose. Several months ago I realized this trip would be an eye opening experience for our students. Little did I know how much it would do for me. I saw the best in people, and I saw the worst as well. Even our own adults had struggles with each other. When you keep close quarters for a week, tension and emotions get stretched and worked. Blow-ups happen and hopefully community is strengthened by the forgiveness and re-evaluation of our own faults and triggers. But the people of the Gulf Coast have my heart. They have overcome SO much and still have much more to deal with. I'll post some more pictures later, but to see this devestation, read the orange numbers on the houses that represents lives lost, and seeing the faces that still have hope, it all has made me very thankful and aware of how I take advantage of my circumstances. I want to see all my possessions as a gift from God, something to be thankful for and to use for His glory. I don't want to hold on so tightly to "stuff" that I fail to realize why I exsist. To Love God and Love my neighbor. We fould some new neighbors in New Orleans.