Thursday, July 26, 2018

Mission Trip Review

Parker had a very interesting and meaningful experience with the youth group for New Orleans on a mission trip to the lower 9th Ward. They left last week on Tuesday night drove all night. When they arrived on Wednesday morning they spent time touring around the 9th Ward to understand its historic significance and the impact of Hurricane Katrina. It's been 13 years since Katrina hit and the lower 9th Ward is still a shadow of its former self. Only about 1/3 of the population returned. Most of the buildings are abandoned or still damaged. The group visited the level walls, the Living Museum and stopped at Burnells. 

Burnell's is the only grocery store in the lower 9th Ward. It's owned by a local man who grew up here, went into the military and returned home a few years after Katrina. Before he opened his grocery store, the nearest grocery store required 9th Ward residents to drive (many don't have cars) or travel by bus and make 3 transfers. He's been expanding in the last few years to include a laundromat, barbershop and soon an Internet cafe. Already kids hang out all around his store for the wifi anyway in order to do their homework - the cafe will just give them someplace official to sit and work. 

While the kids spent most of their time in the lower 9th ward during the day, at night they were housed over by the Superdome in classrooms at Urban Impact Ministries. This is one of the ministries that Matt and Sarah Bruzzi partner with for their work at The Intersection. Our youth group not only donated their time and energy in helping, but brought gifts as well. The group purchased new sleeping cots that they assembled to use at night. These cots were donated to UIM and can be used for future mission trip groups. 

The kids biggest project was cleaning up blight in the lower 9th ward. With so many abandoned lots, weeds have grown out of control. There are accidents when people can't see around the 6-9 feet tall weeds on the street corners. Many of the fire hydrants on corners are covered up by weeds as well. And many people use the lower 9th as their own personal landfill. In cleaning up three different street corners, the kids uncovered two fire hydrants, cleared away tons of weeds and brush, and cleaned up sofas, cabinets and 9 computer monitors. 

Their second project was helping out at Burnell's house. He recently added a room for his family onto his house but didn't have the funds to continue finishing it out. With our church lay leader Mike - the resident construction expert - the kids put in insulation and hung drywall to finish off this space. 

The group spent some other time at night touring more of New Orleans, venturing out to the French Quarter. They had dinner at Cafe Reconcile and then dessert (beignets!!!!) at Cafe DuMonde. 

The group also got to spend some time chilling out in the local swimming pool together. 

There was time for guest speakers and worship and discussion and reflecting as well. Parker has shared a lot with us about his experiences and we are so incredibly grateful that he had this opportunity to go and serve, to be educated about some of the disparities that exist not just around the world, but even within our own country, and to see how his faith in God calls him to be part of working towards solutions. 


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