A New Orleans Report

Hey all-

Some of you know that I am in New Orleans right now, at a conference
hosted by the United Methodist Church. Myself and two others are here
representing Minnesota at an event they are calling a big thank you
for all the work we have done to aid the recovery after Hurricane
Katrina.

I flew into Gulfport Wednesday night. I rented a car and stopped in
to see Ida Mae (a previous home owner we helped). She is doing well
and says that everyone that has helped has been so nice. I also drove
by Ms. Washington's house. Her house was dark and it was hard to tell
if there is anyone living there. I will try again when I go back to
fly out. It was a little strange to be in Gulfport without a team.

I drove to New Orleans that night and checked into my hotel. It takes
just over an hour to get from Gulfport to New Orleans. The next
morning, I got up and drove around for a while. It is very sad. It
seems to me that New Orleans is nowhere near the level of rebuilding
that I've seen in Biloxi and Gulfport. I don't know if it's because
the red-tape and beaurocratic barriers or because of greater numbers
of people affected in a more highly populated area. It is hard to
say.

The event started with a bus tour of some of the affected areas. We
stopped at three different churches that are worshipping in their
buildings again. They all said that the reason they are back in is
the connectional United Methodist church gave so much. They talked
about covenants with other churches all over the United States (and
beyond.) Part of the tour included the 9th Ward, which is still
mostly empty of people and many many many homes to be rebuilt. We saw
where the levee broke. At another church, they told us that the
affected homes were in a fairly affluent area where homes go for
$350,000. Many of these people didn't want to come back, but couldn't
sell out because their homes cost too much.

After the tour, they showed us a movie at the IMAX theater. Hurricane
on the Bayou. It is an interesting premise that the demise of the
wetlands between the Gulf of Mexico contributed greatly to the
magnitude of destruction.

Dinner was great. I met a lot of people from all over that had helped
out. There were a lot of District Supers there, and Bishops, and
pastors and etc. I met the DS from the Biloxi area where we have
served before. The Bishops from the affected areas all spoke about
the progress we've made and thanked us for our service. I extend that
to everyone that has prayed for us and supported our teams
financially, too. So from the Mississippi, Louisana, and Alabama
Conferences, Thank you.

Tomorrow, they are going to talk more about specifically what else has
to be done.

I took some pictures and will send them tomorrow. (or the next day)

Pray for me to be able to see what my/our role is in the restoration
of the Gulf. I will say that I am inclined to want Biloxi 5 to really
be Louisana 1. Pray about it.

Peace and Joy and Hope
Rod

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