Sunday, July 12, 2015

NOLA 2015: Sunday

We woke this morning to the smell of blueberry pancakes being cooked in the kitchen. We enjoyed a slower morning of eating breakfast and getting ready for Church. We loading into our vans and drove to Next Generation Church. This mostly African American church is full of people who love The Lord. There were hands lifted high, voices shouting out "Amen", hips swaying, and feet tapping out gospel steps. We loved being a part of glorifying God with this church family. 

After church we brought the group to the lower ninth ward. This is one part of New Orleans where the levees broke after hurricane Katrina, and a large barge plowed down many of homes. The majority of the ninth ward, which once was full of homes, churches, and community buildings, stacked together side by side, is now just open fields. There are some cement slabs or porch steps that leave hints of the lives that used to fill this place. But most, even 10 years later, have become over grown, forgotten, abandoned by those that lost their lives, don't have the means to come back and rebuild, or hurt to much to return.  

After driving way too slow, trying to take it in, we parked our vans next to the Mississippi River. The kids made sandwiches, and we sat on the earthen levee overlooking the river and ate lunch. The river was high, but it was still impossible to imagine the more than 10 feet of water that covered this area almost 10 years ago. 
We could see the downtown skyline in the distance. I couldn't help but think; This city is resilient. It has character that began in it's culturally rich roots, and rose out of the mud and ruble to rebuild. It has had to endure every knock down possible while trying to find the strength to hold on. Moldy FEMA trailers, insurance evaders, vandalism, contractor fraud, Chinese drywall.... And still, the city isn't defined by it's buildings or homes. This city is it's people, and it's people are proud, loving, united. I can't wait for the students to meet this city- to talk with the people here and be welcomed into this community. 

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