Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pastor Jarret's home

Last night, when Rachel brought us dinner, she informed us of an immediate need. The associate pastor of her church needed help. His name is Jarret.  
Jarret and his wife, along with their three daughters, have a lease that ends on Saturday. Which men's they need to be moved into their new house by then. 

After Katrina came Jarret and his family bought a house. They gutter it and rebuilt it and then sold it. They used the money from that house to buy a very nice house in St. Bernard Parish (not far from the mission house). They were so excited to find this new house! Or was newly renovated and rebuilt. Gorgeous. 

But, after already surviving tragedy #1, Katrina, Jarret and his family were faced with tragedy #2.  The new house they bought... was rebuilt with Chinese drywall. Before, and during the time after Katrina, Chinese manufacturers were producing  large amounts of Sheetrock and selling them to rebuild homes. It was found out later, that this drywall contained chemicals that corroded electrical wiring and plbung, and was also  hatful to humans. Many people who worked hard to rebuild their homes after Katrina (with the help of imaurance money) had their homes tested and confirmed the presence of this drywall. So they were sent back to square one; gutting and rebuilding again. This time, with no help from insurance and government money.  

Jarret and his family have been working hard to finish rebuilding their new home. But they are supposed to move into their house this coming weekend, but there is still a lot of work to do. 

After going to church this morning we were planning on going sight-seeing downtown. But after hearing Rachel tell us about Jarret's need last night, we all vetoed the shopping to spend some hours working on the house. 

What's really cool is how Fod has really brought this story full circle.  A few months ago Troy got a call from Rachel saying that the water to the mission house had stopped working. Having to deal with this from michigan roved to be a huge hassle. What had happened is the pipe supplying the house's water had broken, so a passerby had turned off the water for the house. So Rachel set up a plumber to work on the house to restore the water. Turns out, that umber was Jarret.  So today we got to serve a man who first served us, by taking care of
the mission house. How cool is that?! Such an awesome God story. 
So we spent our whole afternoon working on Jarret's home. Out main jobs were painting, electrical work, caulking, laying floor, trim, and cleaning. We all enjoyed getting our hands (and clothes) dirty with helping this family out! 

There is still so much work to be done in order for the family to move in on Saturday,  so we have chosen to have a few of our group members stay at this site all week, to see what else we can get done. The rest if us will partner up with St. Bernard Project tomorrow and start at a new site. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

We've Arrived!!

We have made it safely to New Orleans!! 
We are all so thankful for safe travels!!  
After we made it to the mission house and settled in we got to meet the "house mom" Rachel. She's the one that helps take care of the mission house while no one is here. 

Now Rachel, is one amazing woman. 

Not only did she bring us a HUGE pot of her tasty gumbo, 

but she shared her story with us too. 

Rachel and her husband Cliff had 2 children, and one on the way when Katrina came. They, and their close family evacuated together before the storm hit. They ended up in Texas, disconnected from the media during the hurricane. They heard through the grapevine that the leveys had broken, but they weren't sure what that meant. 
It took weeks before Cliff was even allowed back into New Orleans. Rachel had sent a list of things for Cliff to grab from the house while he was there. They had no understanding of what had happened. Their house had been under 9 feet of water. All of their belongings dislodged, destroyed, damaged. There was no bringing belongings back to Texas with him. 
It was 8 months before Rachel was able to see her house again. Even then, it was still under a foot or two of mud and debris. Yet when Rachel gave birth to her daughter,  she insisted on bringing her "home". To their home. So that's what they did. They went straight from the hospital to the house, stuck the "It's a girl!" sign in the mud, snapped a picture, and kept on driving. They had a long road ahead of them.    

As their family moved from place to place, God was watching over them through it all.  It was amazing to hear Rachel tell us the story of how they literally tore down, and rebuilt their home. Bulldozers clearing away the mud, so folks could get to their homes. The piles of trash, taller than houses lining the streets. Truck after truck towing away debris. Power washing every stud and acid washing the floors. From every stud, brick, wire, piece of Sheetrock, and shingle, to now new additions of extra bedrooms for new children!  Now, almost 9 years after Katrina, they are now a family of 7, living in THEIR HOUSE in New Orleans. They continue serve God by serving others who come to help rebuild this relentless city. 

As Rachel was finishing her story she said, "We are unnaturally attached to our house."  Of course you are Rachel, but what I see, is you are also unnaturally connected to our God! And that is what makes you and your family amazing.  

I am so thankful to Rachel and Cliff for sharing their story with us. We are all excited to start our work for the week! 
We just learned about a new opportunity to serve that we didn't plan on! And we are gonna take advantage of that! But you'll have to stop by the blog tomorrow to find out more about that. ;-) 

On the road again!

Yesterday we ate lunch in the car on the way. And of corse, we got a little crazy after a while. 

We only stopped for gas and bathroom breaks, which always meant throwing the football around for the guys. 

Some of us tried sleeping in the vans, others could not. We were all very tired by the evening, and welcomed the arrival to our hotel in Haytei Missouri. We ate dinner and spent some time relaxing in the pool. 

This morning we grabbed breakfast at the hotel, and prayed together before we loaded up again. Now we are back on the road! 


We hope to get to New Orleans around 5pm!! 

Friday, December 27, 2013

On our way!

After wiping the (not enough) sleep from our eyes, we grabbed our bags, closed the house, and headed out into the cold darkness. We stopped to grab a ($7 (Bobby's free 3 extra shots, bigby drink)) coffee and met the rest of our team at the carpool lot.  

Somehow we managed to fit 27 adults, 2 children (no not bobby) and a dog into two 12 passenger vans, a car and a pickup!   
Before we left we lifted the trip up in prayer, especially asking for safe travels. 

Now the sun is up, we've stopped for a bathroom break, and we are learning more and more about each other. Sitting like sardines will do that to you. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

New Orleans here we come!

Less than two months ago, Bobby casually asked me, "Hey, you wanna go to New Orleans?" 
I said, "Sure! When?" 
"Over Christmas break, for a mission trip."
I was stunned. Of course I would love to go to N.O. for a mission trip! But in less than two months! There was no way we would be able to raise/save that kind of money in that time period.  
Our whole small group (the young adults group from River Rock Church) was interested in going. We started brainstorming immediately about what fund raisers we would be able to do in six weeks time. Every event we tried to plan would fall through. The church would already have an event planned for that date, or whatever. We were feeling a bit discouraged. But we all also felt this little nudge; "Just say yes. The money will come."  
Now I am what I call a, "freak-er-out-er." I freak out about money. I hate bills, and am always concerned about how we will pay our rent. So, naturally, I was freaking out about how we would raise $900 in 6 weeks. 

But God is good. 
And our church is blessed. 

For one, our church had some mission trip money left in their budget to help our group out. 
But get this: an anonymous donor gave a large contribution of money specifically to our young adult small group!! This donation significantly reduced the cost of our trip for us!  

And now, our dream is a reality! We leave tomorrow morning at 6:30am with a group of 27 peolple to go to New Orleans!