September 4, 2011

NOLA, the love of my life.

Two posts in one night, this is going to get crazy. Can you tell I am procrastinating reading? If you read my last post, you know that I am feeling a bit overwhelmed right now, so I thought I would talk about something that I really love. NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA! I know you are thinking, wait a second, the city with all night partying amongst other wild and crazy things. Well yes that city, but that's not the part of the city that made me fall in love.

Seeing as its been 6 years since Katrina hit New Orleans, its only fitting that I talk about my love affair for this city, since Katrina is part of the reason that I fell in love in the first place. I love to volunteer! I have been volunteering since sixth grade and I don't think I will ever stop. I want to start a group to volunteer somewhere in the cities before the next ASCA conference, but that's another post entirely.

In January of my freshman year of college, I went with a group from the ELCA down to NOLA to help with Katrina clean up. It was one of the most moving experiences of my life. I met so many amazing people down there. The first year I was there, I cleaned the upstairs of one of the leaders parents house. Did you follow that? The downstairs of the house had already been gutted but the upstairs had not. We went through closets, pulled up carpet, got rid of clothes, books, family heirlooms. At one point, I just totally broke down. During that gut, we watched people dig through the pile of rubbish that we were accumulating. I cant imagine being desperate enough to have to dig through moldy crap to grab a couple of moldy shirts and pillows. And yet they smelled like booze and had cigarettes in their mouths. Some things I just wont ever understand. It was such a moving experience for me. That same trip I got to scrub the X off of a house we were cleaning and painting. They had been gutted and were getting ready to move back. That was amazing because I knew it was going to help these people heal and move on.

I have meet so many amazing people from New Orleans. Their strong faith is amazing to me. Many of them didnt let Katrina get the best of them. I heard so many fascinating stories, many that moved me to tears. I saw things that people should never have to see. Being down there for two years in a row, really taught me to live each moment of life. I shouldn't let things such as school work get me down. I really should appreciate every moment I am given. The city of New Orleans gushes out hope. They are rebuilding and things are really turning back to normal. I have watched to progression and have been amazed by what I have seen. It will really, truely be done when there is not one house left with an awful X left on it!

I am going to include some pictures so you have an idea of what I saw. If you ever want to know more about the trip that I went on just ask, I have plenty of stories that I can share, too many to write down here!


This house is one we saw over a year after Katrina hit. It hadnt even been touched!!

Scrubbing the X off of a house. Finally these people can officially start their lives over!

How did those stay there while everything else got swept away?

Gotta stay safe! No matter how ridiculous you look!

The pile that we gathered. This is from the second floor only!

Had to add one of me! It was serious business, but we still managed to have fun getting ready.

This deserves some explanation. We were on a mission trip through church. We were pulling off floorboards so we could rip up carpet. As we pulled them off, we were throwing them over the ledge to the first floor where someone would haul them outside. These landed this way, not only did they land this way, the stuck together. Talk about a powerful moment!

The X.

To explain the X for those who do not know. The top is the date that this house was checked, to the left is who checked it, bottom is if there were any people found inside, and to right is if there was anything else found (pets, ammunition, etc.). There are often more than one X because there were different units that checked houses multiple times.

Our ending pile.

It blows my mind that water and wind did that!

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