My first blog from New Orleans (although it looks like I have been writing a lot it really has mostly been Mary!) It's Friday and I can't believe our time here is almost over - it has gone so quickly! We would love to stay longer...so much more to do, so much more to see. It has been a wonderful week with great group dynamics and everyone has worked really well together. It is so interesting to see everyone's unique gifts contributing to our time here.
Loaves and Fishes has been my favorite thing to do - I have had a chance to hear so many different stories, to meet so many different people, and to see so many different parts of the city. We have fed so many people from the homeless congregating outside the New Orleans Mission, to the different volunteers rebuilding homes, to a community for people with HIV/AIDS.
It is so sad to see that so much of the city has not changed at all in the year since we were last here. I can't describe the feeling of seeing so much devastation and hopelessness. Lot after lot is either empty or with an abandoned falling down house. Today I did see one area where I had brought sandwiches to last year where great improvement was seen. Last year there were only a few houses built - this year the street is full of small beautifully colored homes with only a couple more left to complete.
But despite all the sadness and frustration the spirit of the city is incredibly strong (helped along by the Saints and Mardi Gras) - everyone is so excited and so proud to be from New Orleans - Go Saints, Who Dat, and Mardi Gras decorations are everywhere. And everyone without exception that we have met thanks us for coming and helping. As the priest from St. Anna's said, showing up is the most important part. All of the work we have done is helpful and appreciated but most important is that we came (thanks to all of you) and that we have not forgotten them. Your prayers and financial support have been so important every step of the way from the inital planning of this trip way back last summer to our days here this week. I can't wait to come back again next year!