A New Orleans snapshot
March 28, 2006, 11:52 am
Filed under: uncategorized

A week and a half ago I flew with a big bunch of college students to New Orleans for some relief work. We had to change planes in Denver. On the Denver to New Orleans leg of travel I was seated next to a lady who was returning home to a town called Covington, a bit north of New Orleans. She said that her area had taken a lot of wind damage, but no flooding. Her brother, though, had been one of the people who had to get plucked off their rooftops by Coast Guard helicopters. Turns out, he lived about three blocks away from the elementary school in Chalmette where we would be staying. Chalmette is a city in St. Bernard parish, where the worst flooding took place.

Last Tuesday we entered a house in that neighborhood and began clearing furniture, tearing out all the drywall and insulation, ripping up the warped hardwood floors, and salvaging what we could of keepsakes and antiques. As we worked, one of my students called me to come outside to talk to an older gentleman. He was wanting to know how he could get some help cleaning up his house, which was across the street from the one we were working on. I and another team member walked with him to his house, and found an unbelievable disaster. His name is Pete, and he introduced us to his lovely wife, Rose. They’ve been married for over 60 years, and lived in that house for 50. We spent a good long time talking – actually, a couple students “took over” for me while I stepped away to supervise our other project. An hour later, Pete and Rose were sitting down to lunch with us back at the base camp. Two hours after that, our team finished the house we had been assigned and went over to begin cleaning their place. The whole next day was spent working on their house. They were so gracious and kind. They told their stories and shared themselves with us. They even bought us a carrot cake to express their thanks.

One of the main reasons I wanted to go to New Orleans was to hear stories like Pete and Rose’s. I want those stories to wreck me. I want to re-tell them so they’ll wreck other people enough so that we don’t forget. There is still so much to do there. It really is shocking to see how little has been done. Continue to pray, to give, and to serve.


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