This morning started off much later than all our other mornings. I ended up waking up at 8:20...about 10 minutes before devo time! Kati and Angie (and Angie's 2 boys) brought over boxes of clothes they'd had in storage for a while that needed to be sorted in preparation for a $1 sale to raise money for their ministry. We had a great time helping them with that and then making sack lunches for them to hand out. They have a very deep sense of calling to the street ministry they do. They work with senior citizens, gutter punks, homeless, etc who live on the streets as well as any and everyone they come into contact with. They do most of their ministry in and around the French Quarter.
After our time with Kati and Angie, we set about getting ready to spend some time with Ms Doris. We wanted to help her with her house, but knew there were a lot of projects we either weren't equipped to do ourselves or we simply wouldn't have the time to finish. So we brought a gift basket and some dinner and simply spent time with Ms Doris and her family. It was a great time for our team to really see what it feels like to call New Orleans "home". It was such a blessing to simply be with those women and I know that even though we may not have done any hard labor, we were doing exactly what God wanted us to do.
At around 7:30, we said goodbye to Ms Doris, Elaine and Courtney and headed across the river (you know...the Mississippi River) to the Westbank. There's a place over there called Mardi Gras World. This is where most of the big floats and props for the Mardi Gras parades are housed. They hosted an all day event complete with face painting, mask making (which we missed out on by about 10 minutes), food, music, and free tours of the prop rooms. The festivities ended with a 6 piece jazz ensemble complete with a 2nd Line (you'll have to look that one up if you want to know what it is) out to the levee right before the fireworks began. We sat on the levee to watch the fireworks, then decided we should try using kati's blanket to slide down the hill on. Then we thought we should roll down the hill. Then we realized if one person sits on the blanket and 2 people pull it, you go down the hill a lot faster. It was like being a kid again. :o)
After we were sufficiently dirty and dizzy, Kati, Angie and the boys went home and the rest of us headed Uptown to meet Paul at Camellia Grill for some dessert. For those of you not familiar with the staples of the city, Camellia Grill is one of them. After the storm, the owners moved to Mississippi. People started leaving notes on the doors of the restaurant to "Please come back", etc. Someone asked the owners if they could buy the restuarant so it could open up again, and the owners agreed. So the new owner hired back all the old workers (the same guys have been there for years and years) and reopened without changing anything at all...except they now take debit and credit cards instead of just cash.
And now, after a minor run-in with Essence Fest traffic, we are home and once again snug in our beds (except me). I want to thank everyone who's been praying for us. God has really done amazing things for each one of us during this week and I'm very grateful for the opportunity to bring a team to serve a city I love. We've all learned so much and have been so inspired and encouraged by the people we have met. I hope you will ask about our trip. But don't just ask me...ask Karina, Jeny, Heather and Jessie. They have a lot to share.
We only have one more day left, and it's a pretty kick-back day. We will be making breakfast for a group of ladies in the morning and then doing some sightseeing and shopping in the afternoon, as well as tying up some loose ends and running a couple of errands. We will still look for opportunities on the streets and may even catch up with Kati and Angie while they're out doing their thing in the Quarter. It will be a pretty early evening because we have to leave at 3:45 Sunday morning to get to Gulfport. I may or may not do an update tomorrow night, so until the next time...