Thursday, June 11, 2009

Return, Rebuild, Renew

I spent the last few days down in the New Orleans area as a delegate to my church's annual conference. This isn't something that I've ever really had a great desire to do, but I decided that since I really didn't have an excuse NOT to go, I should take my turn and accept the position. As it turns out, I really kind of enjoyed it (although I'm hesitant to say that). I don't imagine that it is always this interesting, but this year, I was able to get to know my friend Rachel better, watch 2 friends get ordained and participate in the voting process regarding some pretty important issues.

And in addition to the "church politics" that we were involved in, I was able to participate in an optional mission project on Tuesday afternoon (which is something I love!). We had several different options, but I chose to work on a home that had been damaged in Hurricane Katrina. This is the 5th time I've been to work in New Orleans in recent years, but we worked in an area that was totally unfamiliar to me. Here's a photo of the house. The marking on the outside of the house is left from the first time officials were able to actually check the house for signs of life following the storm. As you can see, the first time they could check it was 9-28-05--that's over a month after Katrina hit!! While law enforcement agencies attempted to check the neighborhood earlier, they were in a boat and the water covered everything except the roof, so no accurate assessment could be done. You can still see the water line on the house where water remained for weeks after it began to subside. Our job was to prepare the floors for laminate wood flooring to be laid. We scraped the concrete, rolled out padding, screwed shims into the walls and even began to lay the floor. Our time was very limited, but at least we were able to help out for a little while. Hopefully this family will be able to move back into their home in the next couple of months! It's been almost four years since the storm, and if you were to drive through New Orleans on the interstate or even visit the French Quarter, you would think that life is back to normal---that homes are repaired and lives have been restored. But upon closer inspection, you find that FEMA trailers and blue tarps are still seen in most neighborhoods and even more homes have been abandoned or await monumental repairs. The signs of a brighter future are emerging, but there is still much work to be done!
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