Hello All! Ali here. You are all so lucky because you get to read all my thoughts and reflections after a busy and action packed week! It is my hope that something I write is relatable to your own thoughts, feelings, fears, etc.
I worry about sounding redundant when I post on this blog, when I do my devotions, when I pray with the group… However, I have come to the conslusion that it is bigger than my own or other’s perceptions. It encompasses my thoughts, feelings and heart. (This may be me giving myself an out for an incoherent entry… Oops.. there I go again).
So, a large focus this trip was about the message that we are trying to convey to others about the ongoing need for people to join us or other groups going down to rebuild the Gulf Coast. I think that this is a complex idea that requires attention to all aspects. People wonder why there is still so much to be done. People are afraid they won’t be a good fit or bring skills that are useful. People wonder why we travel all the way to NOLA when there is work to be done here. And the truth of the matter is, I can get behind the thought process of all these things.
Seemingly, if everything and every system worked the way it should-we would be farther along in the rebuilding process. HOWEVER, Katrina was a stinkin’ huge storm and things don’t always work the way they should. At the end of the day, we are only as far as we are.
Seemingly, if this is a trip that is titled “rebuiding” there would be a certain amount of “rebuilding skills” that would be required. However, I think we generalize what “rebuilding skills” includes. Yes, I am amazed by Howard, Bob, Jeff, and Gary Baker’s building abilities. Sometimes I think it is superhuman. But I am amazed also in the same scope by people’s hearts and passion and ears to listen, eyes to see, hands that reach out and willingness to step outside of their comfort zone (including the aforementioned superhumans!) I think that just by being willing to go, taking a week out of your life to show up for people who have been waiting for someone to show up for them since 2005, that is all the skill you need. God will provide the rest. And at the end of the week, you may have surprised yourself. (IE- I used a power tool which is right up there on my scary list between forgetting to wear pants and reptiles! Corrine- You are my inspiration!)
And finally… Seemingly, it appears funny that we are going all the way to New Orleans to serve God, when there are people right in our back yards who need help and love just as much. I think about this one a lot because I work with these people on a daily basis. However, at the end of the day, I know God calls us to do His will based on things that are WAY above us. It has been my experience that when I think something should go a certain way, it goes the exact opposite. It has become the way I navigate the roads in my life and has brought many amazing people and experiences to me.
Also, I think we get caught up on the idea of who is our neighbor? In Luke, Jesus and the lawyer are talking about what you need to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus, so clever that he is tells him to look at what the law says (Hello, you’re a lawyer?! ha!). It says, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind: (And here is the kicker) AND your neighbor as yourself.
Our neighbors are the people who live next door to us, in town, in the state, in the country, in the world, in New Orleans. Our days are filled with chances to help our neighbors. When we practice kindness, when we give up our precious time, when we smile at people, when we ease the burden of someone else- that is when we are saying that we are trying to live the life of love that God wants us to. That is when we are doing His will. That is what we do every trip we take to New Orleans. When we see a need unmet, God wants us to meet it.
I remember the Spring of 2009 trip when a team from Louisianna was having a fundraiser for a mission trip to Iowa. So if we are worried about our neighbors when we leave… God has got it on lock-down.
In closing, I encourage anyone teetering on the fence to really think about what God calls us to do for our neighbors. (And really, get on board before Rod comes and pushes you right over to our side). I think it is his way of giving us a “gentle” reminder that we are called to help our neighbors, rich and poor, young or old, no matter where they live. These trips help us show Jesus to all people. AMEN!
See Ya’ll in the spring?!