Friday was a big day. We were asked by the Director of the Epworth Project (our hosting agency) if we would be willing to appear on a local TV news program in a series called, "Rhythm and News." They wanted to show a large group of volunteers as a kickoff to their volunteerism season. There was a concert by a local musician, Tab Benoit (If you have seen the iMax video on Hurricane Katrina and the wetlands, you have seen this guy before) and they interspersed the news throughout. They interviewed the Director of the Epworth Project, me, the Director of the local Catholic Charities, and a volunteer from that group also. The asked why we came down, and I just started listing the homeowners we have worked for in the past. I told them that if we didn't work on their houses, they might still be waiting, or at least would have had to wait longer. The music was fun, and the Epworth Project was happy to get the exposure. Sometimes mission work isn't hard.
From there, we went to our work assignments. Kristen's group had completely finished everything they could do for their house. Primed, two coats of paint, and painting trim. Son on Friday, they went to join Bob's team, who needed more help, especially with painting. There was some nervousness about having 13 people on one job site being a little much, but they got into a groove and finished strong. Bob was very satisfied with the work they accomplished. And from Bob, that is huge! Howard's team got most of the eight interior doors they had to set, baseboard cut and set (not nailed in because of the door trim not installed on all the doors yet). The transformation at this house was also very visible. In our debriefing, each team described a similar transformation.
The Epworth Project asks us to have tools back by 3:00pm, so we finished early on Friday. From there, we drove down through the Lower 9th and tried not to act like tourists gawking. It was meaningful for the people that hadn't been there before, and satisfying for the people that had. Each time we follow the route they suggest, there is more development and rebuilding.
For dinner (because some people want to know everything!) we went to "Parkway" which is a restaurant that serves Po Boys. President Obama ate there when he was in town some time ago. My friend from college, Joann and her husband Terry, choose it and met us there. It has quite an atmosphere.
We left Slidell this morning and have arrived in St. Louis. We will get back into town tomorrow. I get frustrated on the road because I think everything takes too long. Ali has been great at giving me a look that says, "Check yourself!" when she sees me getting frustrated. It is just hard to get a group this size moving all at the same time. It's not bad, it just requires more orchestration. I have to figure out how to balance letting adults be adults vs. urging and pushing and trying to stay on "schedule."
As we were planning this trip, we said this would be the last trip to New Orleans (for now.) It is hard to see the work needed to be done still, and to hear the stories and talk to the people at Epworth and not want to just sign up for another trip. But there is need all over the country. We will have to spend some time praying where to go next. I don't think anyone is done serving yet. It just is a matter of where. And when.
I'll send out another email to summarize some things in a couple days. There will be some more pictures (Krissy is emailing pics off her phone to me, and Kristen's camera has some weird computer chip that won't allow me to copy her pictures, so she'll email hers to me later, also).
As always- Facebook (search for River Bend Mission Team) or Picasa (www.picasaweb.com/rodscofield/nola6#
) and our blog (www.rodscof.blogspot.com
). I don't think anyone has added anything to the blog that I haven't emailed out, but Kristen and Ali have access to post on it and they probably will at some time.
The spiritual life cannot be made suburban. It is always frontier, and we who live in it must accept and even rejoice that it remains untamed.
— Howard Macey