Today was our first full day with VBS in the morning and house gutting in the afternoon. After pouring so much time, effort and worry into our VBS preparations, they paid off! Everything went GREAT! The kids were very rambunctious, but still willing and excited to learn and be involved with us. It was difficult to manage some of the kids tempers and energy, but after talking with the Camp Director, it's easy to understand why the kids struggle with aggression. The psychologists they work with have said time and time again that aggressive outbursts are a normal result of what these kids have experienced as a result of Katrina.
It breaks my heart to think about what the kids have been through. Not only with the hurricane itself, but the resulting turmoil in the lives of their families...the divorces, the arguments, the losses, etc. It's easy to have patience with them when you think about how hard life can be these days in the Big Easy.
After VBS, we got to hang out a little bit while the kids ate lunch before changing and heading over to our house-gutting assignment. The house we are gutting is just around the corner from the BBC office and belongs to a woman named Frane. She stopped by while we were working today and was very excited to meet us...as we were her. Our work today was pretty easy. All we had to do was knock out dry wall and tear down door frames. Jeny and Jessie got to go up in the attic and kick down the ceiling (how fun is that? If only I were a foot shorter). Heather used her height to her advantage and knocked out the higher bits of dry wall. I ripped apart a closet (that, by the way, was covered with furry yellow moldy growth) and bathroom and some of the aforementioned door frames.
After all that, we headed home for some showers and red beans (a traditional New Orleans Monday dinner) with the Petersons and Kati Sheperdson. Kati was able to tell the girls about the volunteer work she does with the homeless people in the city as well as her "Katrina story". And then we headed out to the French Quarter so the girls could see a few sites. We saw Bourbon Street (only a couple blocks), Royal Street, Jackson Square, St Louis Cathedral and a few other things before debriefing the day at Cafe Du Monde and praying over the city from the Riverfront. There were also a few choice encounters with street performers and restaurant husslers (that's what I call the people who stand outside with menus trying to get people to come in).
Now we are safe and sound back at the Petersons getting ready for bed. Pray for us as we wake up tomorrow for another full day with the kids and the house. Pray we have opportunities to talk more with our home owner as well as the few neighbors that are around. Pray that we can impact these kids lives in any small or large ways God would have for us. Pray that tomorrow evening is another enjoyable time for us to talk, get to know each other more and encourage one another and the people who will be with us.