New Orleans Mission Trip 2013
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Click on the pictures below to make them bigger and to read the captions.
Day 1 - Saturday, February 2
'Trust in Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Prov. 3:5-6
Saturday, a beautiful day to serve the Lord, a little chill and snow notwithstanding. We had an early rendezvous at the church with a few well-wishers. Then the team packed up the vehicles and after a short devotion we were underway. The prospect of 70 degree weather in New Orleans makes the hours on the road more bearable. Of course, the friendly banter among the team helped to keep spirits high and melt away the road fatigue. Two interesting stories from today's trip. Stopping for gas in Cape Girardeau, we found what maybe the world's slowest gas pump. It took about 15 minutes to pump 7 gallons and then the pump just stopped (I guess it got tired!) The guy inside the store told me to squeeze the handle harder because the pump was old. Then this evening we went to get some supper and had at least four different people try to help us and none of them seemed capable of completing a task on their own. We couldn't help but laugh when our 'server' had to make two trips to deliver two bowls of soup. Finally back in our motel rooms, we made plans for tomorrow and closed our day with a devotion. Hope you have a super Sunday!!
The mission team this year is Lottie Munter, Pat Smith, Idella Lee, Len LaLone, Dan Duval, and Don Lutz.
Day 2 - Sunday, February 3
We woke this morning to abundant sunshine and anticipation of our arrival in New Orleans. After a worship service in one of our rooms, we were ready for whatever the Lord had in store for us. The Big Easy represents a culture that none of us is comfortable with, but we are willing to be God's hands and feet, allowing Him to lead us and use us in bringing relief to an area still rebuilding from Katrina and now Isaac. We decided to enter NOLA from the north by crossing Lake Pontchartrain. I believe that it is still the world's longest bridge at 28 miles. It made for an interesting perspective of the city. We got a good start on the day and made excellent time, so we were able to visit Trinity Church on Claiborne prior to reporting to camp. Everything looked great at the church. The community surrounding it shows great signs of growth an renewal. More homes seemed to be built or repaired and others had been demolished. We took a quick trip through the community of houses that had been built by Brad Pitt; many interesting designs. Finally, we arrived at Camp Restore where were greeted by Nora who showed familiarized us with the camp and showed us to our quarters. After setting up for a turkey dinner, eating, and cleaning up, wrapped up the evening with devotions. Some of us watched the second half of the Super Bowl before retiring for the evening. We are all eager to find out what our service opportunities will be tomorrow and we are ready for any changes in plans that may come up as the week progresses.
Day 3 - Monday, February 4
Our first work day!! We finally get to step out in faith and do things we have never done before on behalf of people we do not know. It sounds a little daunting, but we knew that we needed to be flexible and allow God to lead to serve Him according to His plan. We thought we were going to be planting some small trees where you make a little opening in the ground stick it in and press the dirt back with your foot and move on the the next. On, no!! Nothing that simple, we had to dig 5 gallon holes in sticky clay. We were assured that it was too cool for the snakes to be active and the wild boars would probably leave us alone. What we did have was mosquitoes and fire ants. No surprise about the skeeters and they weren't really too bad, but there were several colonies of the fire ants, so we gave them wide berth. Noone got bit to my knowledge. Even though we did not interact with many locals today, we were reminded in our devotion this evening that we are in fact in spiritual warfare - that evil in many forms is still there and we must remain strong and in the Word. We were also reminded that our mission to help others, to be the hands and feet of Jesus is not limited to trips; we have that same mission every day, everywhere. We need to live our faith right here, right now. Tomorrow we plan on serving at the St. Bernard Community Center giving us a chance meet face-to-face with the people we are helping. We are all looking forward to that. It has rained steadily all evening here and more is expected on Thursday as well. Keep us in your prayers as we do you.
Day 4 - Tuesday, February 5
Our journey of flexibility and diversity continued today. Since the community center didn't need its volunteer help until 10 AM, we had a long time between breakfast and departure. Once there, we started stocking the shelves and sorting meat. They had just received a truckload of food and it had to be sorted and stored. This kept us quite busy for several hours. Of course, their clients started coming through keeping the workers in the pantry busy as well. The recipients were all very appreciative of our participation and friendly. Lottie and Idella were really good a relating to the folks that came in and very helpful. One of the regular workers estimted that about 100 people were served today. That is ironic since yeserday it was estimated that we planted about 100 trees. Will there be another 100 in our future tomorrow? A couple of the ladies are going to sort Mardi Gras beads and the rest of us are going to work with horses abandoned and rescued after the storm. We are getting a lot of diverse activities this time compared to other trips. Our devotions have reminded us that we are in spiritual warfare, sometimes with that which is around us and sometimes what lies within us. Luckily we have a God who can and does love us even when we do not show to others the forgiveness that He has shown to us. In some ways it is easier to show compassion and understanding to strangers than to those closest to us or in our community. It is important that we look for ways to serve others both near and far. We are hoping and praying that all is well with you and look forward to our return home. Goodnight!!
Day 5 - Wednesday, February 6
We had a great day today. We went to a horse rescue farm in Belle Chasse where we heard an amazing story of faith and perseverance. We also found out how well some TLC can make a difference in the lives of children. She works with at-risk children by using the horses. She has yet to have a failure and has been instrumental in molding the lives of extremely high achieving individuals. Mucking out a stall seems a lot more noble when you know you are helping someone like Lori do the work that she does. She had also participated in the rescue of hundreds of post Katrina abandoned horses. She willingly shares her faith and prayers with others. Sharing our fait i what we need to do at home, down the street and to the ends of the earth. New Orleans may not seem like the end of the earth, but it is a good start. Our challenge is to be intentionally involve in the lives of others, not so we can appear better than others but to give others a hand up or a helping hand whatever is needed. We also have a challenge to be ready to give an answer for our actions. Passing it off and being modest is a missed opportunity to give God the glory. It may not come easily for most of us, but practicing will make it come more naturally. It is getting late, so this is all for tonight. Tomorrow we go help clean and sort beads for Mardi Gras.
Day 6 - Thursday, February 7
Day 6 brought yet another new chapter for the team. Four different activities in four days and we stayed together througout the week - both firsts. Today's activity was sorting Mardi Gras beads. The site is called Arc (Association for Retarded Children). It now serves adults as well as children and it pays them minimum wage to perform tasks such as gardening and sorting beads. 22 million pounds of beads are imported for the myriad parades that New Orleans is home to each year. Arc gives people a chance to recycle unwanted beads by placing bins around the city. These beads are then cleaned, sorted an resold. Arc recycles about 100,000 pounds a year. The guys spent the morning with Terrance who adopted us as his shadow as we cleaned up a trash and reject storeroom. He is quite the talker. He likes to dance and refers to himself as Famous Terrance and told us that he had performed once in Green Valley when he was on tour. He danced for us at lunch and offered to give us his autograph and have our pictures taken with him. Once again, we are reminded of the many blessings that God has given us in our lives and how important it is for us to share with those less fortunate. Whether we are serving behind the scenes like planting trees on Monday or dealing with the public as we did today and Tuesday, we can reach out in God's love to those around us. No work tomorrow as we have chosen to tour the WWII museum in New Orleans in the morning before sampling the beignets at the Cafe DuMonde and hitting the road for home. We are all looking forward to getting back to friends and family and our own beds. We will have some good stories to tell about this trip, maybe you will even out who now has the nickname 'Big Daddy'!! My lips are sealed. So are Len's.
Day 7 - Friday, February 8
Day 7 - the final chapter. Sorry this is so-o-o late, but the motel internet and my computer weren't on speaking terms Friday evening. Not too much to talk about anyway. Nobody was very interested in trying to work half a day and then have to get cleaned up, packed and on the road. So, after serving and cleaning our third meal of the week, we packed the vehicles and headed to downtown New Orleans to visit their WWII museum. It is a couple beautiful buildings with a remarkable depiction of the events leading up to the war as well as pictures, films and descriptions of both theatres of action. The three hours we spent there did not do it justice. An uneventful drive to Horn Lake and a late supper and we were all ready to turn in. Saturday morning we held our last devotion before heading for Green Valley and cooler temps. We had great discussion and sharing at all of our devotions, Saturday's was no exception. We all felt very good about the activities of the week a can see that God can use (pretty much has to) ordinary people in ordinary circumstance to do His good and perfect will. Each trip has its own 'personality' if you will and this one's character was marked by diversity, flexibility, unity, and friendship. Thanks to all who have supported the work done through this trip and for the prayers for our safety and return. Amen.
Day 8 - Saturday, February 9
No pictures today, sorry. We were just driving home and not much to show you that hasn't been seen before.