Monday, February 09, 2009

Starting week three of rebuilding NOLA...

Friday was productive as Louis and I both finished projects we had been working on for several days. The afternoon was simply beautiful as we drove through the 7th and 9th Wards toward St. Bernard Parish. We unloaded all the tools and took showers. After a little rest we had dinner at Big Vic's. The food was good and Big Vic is an Italian Chalmettetion that is a character. He told his Katrina story to Louis while I spoke with a middle aged couple who have just rebuilt a home. The gentlemen was very interested in why and how I would come to NOLA for a month. He finally asked the question that had been on the top of his list, "How can you afford to do this a month?"
My answer was simple and true, "I cannot, I could lose it all by making this trip." He was puzzled as I explained to him that I was trusting God to help me help rebuild the area. It is very easy to tell people why you have come, they are very interested.

Saturday morning Louis left to drive home for a few days and I sat here and read for an hour or so.
I then went to the local coffee shop and had a latte while checking email on the netbook. Another conversation started with a couple in my age group. They were lifetime citizens of St. Bernard Parish. They left Saturday before the storm with enough clothes for three days. They lost everything. They were lucky as insurance and hard work allowed them to rebuild and be back into their home before Christmas of 2005. They are concerned with the community of Chalmette which is coming back very slowly.

I then went to The Red Room Salon for a haircut and met Jeannine. She and her young husband bought her family home from her parents and rebuilt it. Her parents moved away, she and her husband desire to live here and raise their family.

My goal was to eat fresh seafood on Saturday evening, but with an afternoon alone and the volunteer village empty, I devised a new plan. I drove to the local Winn-Dixie and bought shrimp boil and cocktail sauce dropping by the local shrimper and buying a few pounds of the morning catch. Within a few moments the kitchen at the volunteer village smelled like a cajun seafood eatery. I ate the entire two pounds of fresh boiled shrimp and then took an afternoon nap. Around 5:30 I decided the evening was a great time for a long walk and drove the truck to Mrs. Phillip's Family home in Treme. From there the French Quarter is a few blocks walk. When there I went to find a friend. Daniel K is a young man I met two weeks ago and have had several conversations with him. Daniel is a graphic artist who moved to NOLA from Chicago. An Irish Catholic who is unsure of his faith we have had some great conversations. Daniel has developed a cartoon character that is based on his life and struggle with his understanding of God. I spent most of the evening with him and even helped him fold flyers for his workplace. Pray for Daniel and his alter ego Smallz.

Sunday morning was slow and lazy as I sat around and read and drank coffee. At the last moment I decided to attend a local church. The church is made up of two local congregations from a major denomination. There were about 50 people there and much grey hair. This "congregation" has attempted to maintain two "seperate" "congregations" within one. Two pastors lead this combined congregation and both of them preached. I am no church growth guru, but let me say this, this "church" is not sustainable. For two pastors with D. R.s before their names they have made a big mistake...this is not going to work.

I came back to the compound, ate a little lunch and went to bed for a long nap. I decided to attend the evening service for Vintage Church, a young church plant that meets on Magazine St.
Their meeting place alone is worth the visit. The church meets at Vintage Uptown a social venue in a very trendy section of NOLA. Rob Wilton is the pastor, he and this young group of creative church planters renewed my faith in the future of the church in USAmerica.
I will write about the rest of the weekend later. For now I am off to the 7th ward to spend the day hanging doors on Touro St.

1 comment:

  1. Jimmy,

    Thank you for these daily updates on your work in NOLA. You're recording a bit of history here as God moves in the lives of the people of New Orleans - one family at a time. Were all these stories pieced together into one great book, the grace and mercy of God would astound even the most hard-hearted soul.

    I can't think of any place I'd rather be than with you now, but Shelley says that you need skilled laborers. Do you know if there is a central project team that every volunteer group can tie into down there so that people who are interested can be used more effectively? I know it's a huge undertaking, but if all the jobs were being updated on a weekly basis, perhaps it wouldn't take so long to finish the homes and people could get back in sooner.

    I hope that churches and charitable organizations are working together and not being stingy with their resources. All this effort should point back to the Father and not on the individual church or ministry that's doing the work.

    Thanks for what you're doing and for telling us the stories. I'm proud to call you my friend and pastor:).

    We'll try to help take care of Shelley and Joy while you're gone. Blessings and prayers offered on your behalf.