Hi all, sorry for the delay in getting this posted! Here are a few reflections from yesterday and today. The first is from Rebekah:
MC: Power tools are not my friend. Travis: You have to make them your friend.
Sometimes you have to tear down what you built up. If you approach it in the right way, you have the opportunity to do it better the next time around. This, the conclusion we came to when Travis and MC took on the closet job. Armed with hammer and power saw Travis proclaimed, "Alright, I'm going in." Now built to CA earthquake standards, that closet is no doubt the safest place in the house.
M.C has become quite handy with a cordless impact driver and even steady with a reciprocating saw. See the pictures of what happens when a previous group frames a closet with too narrow an opening and we then drywall it not knowing that the homeowner needed it double the width.
A thought from Travis: over the last ten years it has been a remarkable experience to venture to New Orleans to be a part of the rebuilding process. From my first trips a year after Katrina gutting houses to the last five years rebuilding; what a joy it has been to watch the city recover and to be a part of the process. With this joy has come also come immense frustration. New Orleans, particularly the Lower Ninth Ward is one of the most impoverished coties in the country. While working in the Lower Ninth this year, I have observed how devastated the area still is. I have spent time listening talking, but mostly listening, to the neighbors and the homeowner we were working for. The streets are terribly paved with potholes large enough to swallow a small car, there are still homes that have been condemned lining the streets, there are still thousands of vacant lots with a whole line of people longing to return home, there still remains a tremendous amount of work to be done. This August marks the ten year anniversary. Crews are frantically working to repair the streets, homes that have been condemned are finally being bulldozed, the city is still a mess. Crime is rampant, unemployment is high, there are no real grocery stores, just a few convenience stores and a plethora of liquor stores. In August, it is the Mayor of New Orleans intent to display that New Orleans is recovered and to encourage businesses to return. The hard and frustrating truth is that the city is not recovered. In talking with the paving crew after befriending them in sharing some of our cold water, one gentlemen remarked at how all of the work they are doing is to make the city looks better for the media that is coming. There is a supposed plan in place of where the media will be taken and where they will not, so that an image of a city recovered will be displayed. This though, is not reality. It is heartbreaking to see neighborhoods still living in squalor, communities neglected, families still scattered about the country and so many longing to come home.
I often get asked why I return to New Orleans and why I think it is such a worthwhile Mission trip for our church. The simple answer, because the people down here matter and they have been forgotten about. The government support is long gone, the funding is drying up, and the city is being rebuilt solely by volunteers. I hope you will consider coming down to New Orleans to be a part of the rebuilding effort. It's not just about rebuilding a home, it's about rebuilding hope, hope for a family in need and hope for the entire community.
To all who have traveled to New Orleans to help rebuild, from the greatest depths of my heart, I thank you.
Let us continue to not only love one another with our words, but our actions.