Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I've been working alongside our church youth group on a house in New Orleans

TOURING THE OLD TOWN. Having arrived in New Orleans' French Quarter, our group of ten (including my two teen children, Molly and Sam) visited a number of the old city's famous places on Saturday, including the French Market area with open-air jazz, Bourbon Street, Cafe du Monde and the Mississippi River waterfront. On Sunday morning, we worshiped with St. Mark's United Methodist Church in the French Quarter, a diverse little congregation with big challenges and a great heart for their city.

A CHUCH THAT PRACTICES HOSPITALITY. On Sunday afternoon, we drove a few miles to a church that is our "home base" during this week of volunteer service work in the continuing post-Katrina Hurricane disaster relief effort by church groups. We are staying in the gymnasium facility of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the Metarie section of New Orleans. This church has hosted groups like ours weekly for the two and a half years since the disaster here. That's an amazing expression of hospitality!

GETTING STARTED ON A 100-YEAR-OLD HOUSE. On Monday morning, we headed to our work site in a neighborhood significantly damaged by Katrina. Our assignment is to prep and paint a 100-year old two-story wood-frame house that volunteer groups have been working on for some time. We are to finish scraping, caulking, and priming it and then paint it. So, the ten of us busied ourselves on the first day, setting up scaffolding and ladders and sorting through equipment and tools. We began to scrape, bleach, caulk and prime. The weather was hot and muggy. Our work ended Monday with a thunderstorm that blew through and soaked us. But it quickly passed.

MAKING PROGRESS. Today, we worked in the sun and 90-degree+ heat, completing prep work necessary before we can start painting. What at first looked like quick work has more detail and demands more time than I first thought. However, we've finished scraping paint, bleaching the wood, caulking cracks and corners, repairing wood, and applying a primer/sealer on the house. Two team members have been at the top of 28-foot ladders much of the time, though just about everyone has spent significant time on ladders at varying heights. We've done just about all the prep work we can do. We hope to start painting tomorrow.

THE JENKINS' STORY. We have engaged the homeowner Natasha, and her three sons, Justin (we helped celebrate his 13th birthday today), Trey (9), and Tyler (5), in good conversation today as they worked to assist us (her husband, Wilsey, has been working). This family was displaced by Hurricane Katrina. They lived for a while in Texas and then in Atlanta before returning to New Orleans to begin to rebuild their lives here. As with many families, it has been a long and complicated process. Stories of displacement and attempts to rebuild range from heroic to tragic. We're happy to be included in part of the story of this family's recovery and hope for the future.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:01 PM

    Hi Pastor John and everyone!!! Love the pics and updates!!! We are praying for all of you every day!!! Be safe and my God empower you each day to do his work!!! Give Michelle a hug from us!!! Mike and Jan


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