Hurray for finally posting a few more pictures from our trip to New Orleans! Last Sunday was our mission report service and it was so wonderful to hear from several different students and adults. One of the greatest joys I get from working with students (And I think Jordan would agree with me) is to see the heart transformation that goes on during trips like this one. Seeing our students come together and work hard and seek after Christ both excites and encourages me in a majorly huge way. So many of our students are still reeling from what happened during the week of Mission Lab (some of the adults left New Orleans with changed hearts as well!). It's just so good. Isnt our God good?
Here's our motley crew, early early in the morning on the day we left New Orleans. Very little sleep + lots of hard work + early morning = some sleepy eyes and cranky faces. Dont let them fool you though- half of them were wishing we could stick around another week.
One of the things that we did on 2 different afternoons was visit a nursing home and an adult day care in New Orleans. At both places, we played bingo with the residents, which at the nursing home was serious business! These ladies were out to win and nothing else! It was hilarious to spend time with these sweet older people and see them get so excited (or frustrated!) over bingo. I hope they enjoyed our students as much as our students enjoyed them!
On a free night, we took our group to a New Orleans Hornets game. The Hornets arent exactly on the top of the NBA rankings, in fact, they lost the game to another team at the bottom of their conference thingy. Despite the loss, I think everyone had a pretty fun time - and how often do we get to see an NBA game?
Also on a few afternoons, we spent some time prayer walking through New Orleans and ministering to the homeless. We brought along care packages full of hygiene products, towels, socks and snacks, which I think we blew through in about the first 10 minutes with the homeless. There was definitely more of a need than what we brought with us, but hopefully for a few dozen folks, we were able to provide some basic needs. This was easily one of the most uncomfortable activities that we did on this trip. Unfortunately, we dont usually seek out the company of homeless or "undesirables," so this was far outside of many comfort zones, but I think that once our students (and adults) became acutely aware that the homeless are still people with needs that we can meet, they became bold and outgoing. What a blessing to see!
It was truly shocking to still see such devastation in New Orleans 6 years post Katrina. We worked a lot in the 9th Ward and saw a lot of the picture above - the simple front stoop remains of what used to be a home. There are still so many needs.
We spent 2 full days and 2 half days in the 9th Ward helping them clean up overgrown lots. When we got our ministry list from Mission Lab prior to leaving, it said we'd do "yard clean up." Thinking we'd pull weeds or rake leaves or maybe mow a lawn or two, I was really surprised to be taken to these majorly overgrown acre-sized lots. I liked the picture above, because it shows how tall the weeds and grass were on some of these lots (there were others that were even worse!). Not only was this helping to prep lots for new houses, but also improved the safety of the neighborhood. Getting rid of the 3-4 foot tall grass meant that folks didnt have spots to hide, hopefully cutting back on the crime and drugs that are so rampant in this neighborhood.
Here's an after picture of one of our lots - leveled! I think in total, we cleared probably somewhere between 4-6ish acres worth of land over the course of the week. It was hot and humid and hard work, but our students and adults were so fantastic and as a group, we accomplished some great things during this week.