Tuesday, August 4, 2009

After the first work day...

Today will be our 2nd day working on one of our official work sites arranged by the organization we are working with. It is just down the street from the volunteer shelter we are staying at. The neighborhoods look like a lot of one level homes made mostly of brick. Some homes look like ones in any neighborhood with vehicles in the drive way and flowers around the house. But some have yards that haven't been cared for, no vehicles in the drive way, broken windows or X's on the front of the house. These are houses where the people have not returned home. There may be different reasons why someone hasn't been able to return home or they have decided not to.

We are working on homes where families have gone through a case management system connected with the place we are staying. I don't know all the requirements or rules but we have been told there is a process.

The homes had to be gutted in order to rebuild because the water level was up to the roof tops. I was thinking yesterday about the timing of that day...what were they told on the weather, what did they think would happen, when did they decide to leave and did they have time to take anything? Did they assume they would be able to return or did they have a feeling in their gut that said this one was bad?

In the home that I was at yesterday, the home owner came to unlock the door but then didn't stay long. We didn't get a chance to talk - maybe she wanted it that way. We were told that most people are wanting to talk to volunteers but some just aren't ready to. Even after 4 years, the wounds are still raw.

The entire home was sheetrocked (my contractor friends are knowing this is not my area of expertise with the spelling and wording). It had already been taped and mudded. Our job was to sand. We did this, in a house that was just opened up for us, with no electricity, for almost 5 hours.

It was another bonding experience for folks on our group. We all got together last night for worship and talked about our experiences. The other groups went to other sites. The acknowledgement of other's work and drive of everyone on the team regardless of age was amazing to hear. It makes me feel very proud to be part of such an effort.

Be thankful for where you live and what you have. Help your neighbor when you can. It is a wonderful warming feeling.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

First post from New Orleans

This is going to be short as I don't have a lot of time.

The drive here took 3 days. I was most concerned about this for myself. I don't think I travel well. We have 36 people across 5 mini-vans. We have 2 drivers for each van and 7 people in each van. Close quarters for sitting along with our baggage. The point is to get to know each other - yea - that happened!!

I am happily surprised that the drive is actually fun! Yes there were some unexpected things that came up (some of the vans going a different way or some stopping for gas and nature breaks at different times) but all these things were sorted out. Taught me a lot about dealing with things and being flexible instead of having every detail laid out and expecting it to work out only that way.

We were housed by 2 churches on the way down. Many families opened up their houses for us for a place to sleep as well as providing us lots of food for our stay and journey the next day. Unbelievable hospitality!!

Today was sight seeing day in New Orleans - I think we were in the French Quarter.

We start work tomorrow...first around the volunteer shelter where we are staying then Monday we'll be going to the 9th Ward.

It's time for worship so I have to go...thanks for all your interest and prayers!!!