Posts filed under 'Mike_Said'



I haven’t posted much lately, mostly because I’ve been doing a lot of processing about everything that happened this summer.

I am finding myself once again in a place of uncertainty. Some of the most important works in my heart, mind, and life happened down here. I am now leaving something that has become familiar, to go into a future that is unpredictable. It’s something everyone experiences, but no matter how many times it happens, change is often… difficult. I wonder how all of this will affect my life back in columbus. I do know home will be the place to see what sticks and what fades. Time will tell. And though it is hard to leave, I am happy to return home.

And like any good story, there are beginnings and endings. And as this chapter in our lives closes, I am reminded that this is not the end of the story, just the end of the beginning.

Add comment September 12th, 2006

New Pics

Lora_Said Mike_Said

We added some new pics on our Gallery page.  Check it out for images from the French Quarter (including the infamous red dress runners), Norco (including “the flame”) and last week’s cookout.


1 comment August 25th, 2006

2 weeks left.


It’s hard to imagine that in about 2 weeks, our time will end down here. It will be bittersweet. I miss home, but I’ve also made some great friendships and had amazing stories down here. One thing is for sure, I’m not the same person that left 2.5 months ago.

Last night was once again our community cookout. I was worried it was going to rain, but as luck would have it, it was just great. Great with a dash of muggy and a smatter of sweat, but great nonetheless. It’s definitely getting easier to do. People stayed this week and I played with the kids. It was just a wonderful time. It never ceases to teach and amaze me how important it is for young boys to have positive older men be there for them. Playing with kids whose father isn’t around shows you that all too well. I don’t really know if that ever goes away in any man, now that I think about it.

Wednesday night is never, apparently, without a story. About 15 mins left before cleanup time, a truck lost control on the main street by the cookout, hit several things (lightpost and other things by the sound of it) and crashed into a tree on the opposing side of traffic. We rushed over there immediately. By the time we got there, amazingly enough, the driver was out of the car holding his ankle. Airbags clearly saved this guys life well beyond a shadow of a doubt. The entire front of this thing was absolutely destroyed. We got the guy some water, cleaned up some of the debris and stayed to help the cops figure out what happened. The guy seemed okay except for a bruised or broken ankle (the ambulance took him away for treatment). It’s totally amazing this guy survived and that he didn’t hit anyone in the oncoming traffic.

In other news- at long last Mercy Response is getting close to picking a logo. Which hopefully means I can get started on other things as well. So that’s good. I doubt I’ll be able to design, approve, implement and program a new website before we leave. Which is okay, because even though that’s what I thought I was coming down here for (at least in part), I realize that better things were in store.

It makes me think: Even though we’re leaving, we’ll take what we’ve learned back with us. In that way, we’ll be bringing part of New Orleans home.

2 comments August 24th, 2006

Don’t mess with my tutu!


I can’t believe it’s taken me a week to post about this. Last Saturday, Lora and I spent the day in the french quarter. It was an incredible day. We walked around, and went to a bunch of neat art galleries. We saw an original Charles Schultz sketch, and an original Norman Rockwell sketch. Perfect for the den I wish to have someday. The were only a measley $1500 a piece.

In the meantime, let me tell you about the rest of our day. Whilst we were out and about, we rounded this corner and to our surprise, we encountered a mob sized crowd of men and women all dressed in gawdy red dresses. Note in the last sentence I said men and women.

We end up talking to one of guys, and apparently it was a running club that, once a year, dresses up in red dresses and runs from bar to bar all day long. Then at the end of the night, they all pitch in and have a kegger. You might be asking, are there photos?! Ohh, yes, there are photos.

As if that weren’t enough, we had plans for dinner with the mercy response staff at K Pauls. For those of you who don’t know- this is where the Blackening technique in cooking originated. And now I know why it became popular. In my opinion, all others *claim* the technique, but they are just posers. This was seriously the best restaurant I’ve ever been to. Everything was absolutely amazing. If you used a menu taped to a dart board as your method of selection, you would not go wrong.

As we were leaving, there was a Zydeco band out front playing on the street. I don’t really know how it happened, but minutes later I found myself alongside Lora and Stacey and Phil wearing a washboard playing in the band. A crowd even formed as we all laughed our butts off and looked nervously at each other, wondering if we were rubbing the spoons right. I (of course) was elected backup singer. The song we played was, you guessed it, “Don’t mess with my Tutu!”

3 comments August 19th, 2006

A Letter to Mercy Response


Hello Stacy,

Just a note to express my gratitude. As I think of the kindness from you, your organization and the many new friends I met, tears begin to flow from my eyes. I was so thankful for the prayers, words of comfort, hugs and the fellowship. Meeting people who were genuine and God fearing made the sadness easier to bear. Please give my thanks to all who had a part in helping put my life some what back in order. I really appreciate that you took so much time with me, not only to help me, but to fellowship also.



Some days, you think you’re at the end of your rope – then you get something like this.

Add comment August 11th, 2006

Gallery is up!


It’s still a work in progress (< geek > WordPress is a great blogging tool, but since I don’t know php, this kind of thing is going slower than usual. But automation is great. So the layout may not be as asthetically pleasing as I would like, but you’ll get more pictures in the long run. I’ve also kept file sizes smaller, which reduces quality but increases load time for the poor in bandwidth < /geek >).

In the main gallery part, you’ll see a variety of images that were taken early on. Some destruction from the lower 9th that is still there, to the Fourth of July cookout that heralded the beginnings of the wednesday night cookout, to photos of friends of ours when they came down to visit/gut houses.

Right now there’s also 1 sub gallery (with more to come in the future). It’s when Lora and I went to a historical plantation on one of the very few days we get off.


6 comments August 6th, 2006

Hello Mr. Mayberry


The Wednesday night cookout was awesome. Phil cooked everything here, so there was no need for the grills to come. That meant that I got to talk to folks this time. I sit down next to a guy I knew from the neighborhood working with Phil.

Enter Mr. Mayberry.

We lock eyes as he sits down. “Arnell Mayberry 54 years old. Admiral. US Navy. Retired 5 times.” That’s when I noticed his cap- US Navy Retiree. Now, picture in your mind what you think a retired naval officer with a chip on his shoulder might talk and sound like. This guy was it. He was a very intense fellow.

I had an interesting talk with this fellow. We talk (well more like he talked and I listened, but still) about what’s wrong with NOLA, the Gov’t, and NOLA’s Gov’t. He told me that he was one of the first Black Admirals in the Navy. Then he mentioned that, as a perk, he couldn’t go to jail. He said he could get into a fight right here right now, or take off all his clothes, and the worst that would happen to him would be a luxury trip to the V8- at which point, he’d get PAID for being there.

We talked about how he’d been around the world 21 times. Then about some bombing that he thinks was meant for him that happened in the 80’s during the Pope’s first (and only, to my knowledge) visit to NOLA. He got some big settlement out of it. Bought several houses. One thing that was interesting to me was when he started talking about racism. He said when he was in the service and went to Europe, people treated him like a king he thought. Someone said to him no, its not that – there was just no race here (Europe). Meaning, it simply just didn’t matter. Makes ya think…

Anyhow, he just keeps going on and on. My friend and I kind of share a look like the lights are on but nobody’s home. I’m thinking, if this guy is who says he was, what’s he doing in a ruined house etc etc. Nevertheless I like this guy, and I keep listening and asking him questions about things. At one point, he’s talking about how he can go on any naval base and basically go anywhere he wants in the world and has 3 passports yada yada. Then all of a sudden he pulls out this rather large wallet and starts flipping through it. That’s when I see his department of defense ID, among other official looking things. I didn’t have time to look at things too closely, nor did I want to be rude, but dang! It looked real! Real enough that they either were real, or he payed a lot of mula get them.

Now, I’m not saying everything this guy was saying was legit. But it did blur the lines here. I forgot to mention how at one point he told me that how he retired from the post office was that he told them he was going to blow the place up or shoot people (out of frustration I assume). So instead of what I might surmise would happen, they gave him a pension equivalent to 6k a month.

Well, needless to say it was an interesting conversation. We talked almost the entire length of the cookout. I did notice that the longer we talked, the less tense he seemed. He kept mentioning how there was no one to talk to (since the storm), and how this was nice to talk.

Yes, it was very nice to talk, Mr. Mayberry. See you next week.

Add comment July 28th, 2006

The Post Formerly Titled, “A Crappy Day.”


It’s almost hard to even understand the level of crazy which I am feebly about to describe, without walking the mile in the shoes yourself. But I’m gonna try.

Let me start off by saying that posts have been short the last week, and the promised picture gallery not up, because of the level of business we’ve been experiencing. We’d been building up to the Wednesday cookout with increasing intensity. Tuesday during our meeting my boss says, “Tomorrow its you and me. Lets be out the door at 5:30 [in the morning] and bust our you know whats so we can look like we know what we’re doing.” This was cool with me. Last minute would not be a good way to start off everything for the cookout, it being our first time and all.

We get up at 5 as planned, and are out the door by 5:30. We hot foot it over to the church, where we had to load about 60 sheets of 4’x12′ pieces of sheetrock (drywall) for this house we’re helping rebuild. Phil (my boss) teaches me how to drive the huge flatbed truck we’re using to haul everything. It’s a stick diesel truck. So I can now operate a forklift and drive a semi huge vehicle. Well, to make a long story short we busted our you know whats hauling these sheets into the house one at a time by hand. And let me tell you: respect the drywall worker. He, like the roofer, has a tougher job than most would realize. CURRENT STATUS: Sweaty, dog tired, but exhilirated.

Once we get done with that, we head back to home base where we learn that the toilet and shower trailer has become clogged. After checking out the scene (flushing toilets, turning on faucets etc.) we determine that yes, indeed, it is a clog in the pipes. You can now see where I was going with the previous title of this post…

So we bust out the tools. At the first crank of the plug with the wrench stuff is spraying like its a pressure cooker from hell. Phil was a real trooper though and wouldn’t let a little thing like everyone’s sewage going everywhere stop him from getting the job done. We tried opening plugs, checking pipes (luckily they are all above ground), running snakes, and finally ended on the least favored option: cutting the pipe.

Okay, if stuff was gross before, this was a whole new level of funk. When Phil cut that pvc pipe with the saw zaw, it was like a mega ultra super soaker shooting mississippi mud. Only, we weren’t in mississippi and it wasn’t mud. CURRENT STATUS: More sweaty, dog tired, poopy attitude (sorry).

This unforseen chore had now eaten up our “getting ahead of scedule so we look like we know what we’re doing” time. So now its time for getting everything loaded for the big community cookout. Luckily I have just enough time to run back and shower before heading out.

To make another long story short, we get there and set up to start grilling. The teams were a big help getting things rolling. I was on grill duty again, which was hot fun. Everything just clicked. It felt peaceful and good. Not to mention totally sucsessful! Kids playing in the field, people actually staying and hanging out, laughing. Good food, good burgers, and just a totally awesome time!!!

Thats when it started raining.

Everyone scattered. People huddling under tents, crowded. Some just left. Most thought it was no big deal- that’s the way it is in the big (not so) easy- storms go from 0 to 60 in 2.3 seconds. Then they’re over. We had a good time huddling in the tents, laughing and waiting for it to pass. Only, it didn’t pass.

Then there was the lightning.

The wind picked up drastically, and the tents started shaking. Thankfully, they were strong and the tethers helped. We watched as the lightning strikes got closer and closer until they were ALL AROUND US. Some just feet away, at the edge of the field. You could feel it on the back of your neck. At this point most everyone that was from the church with us left, except for the teams. The wind is so hard that the rain was coming into the tent anyway. The streets had utterly flooded, and the water line was now creeping into the field. Not to mention we were running out of daylight. Finally, the decision was made. We had to start packing everything up in the rain and lightning. CURRENT STATUS: all kinds of wet.

It was just so crazy- danger, chaos, feverish working… We had to drop grills off at the church a few blocks away using the big diesel truck. Stacy and I hop on the back to make sure the grills don’t slide off. That was surreal. Driving through flooded streets in the middle of a thunderstorm soaked to the bone on a giant metal plate half past dusk. At first we were laughing like crazy at the ridiculousness of it all. We unloaded the grills and headed back to the site. On the way back, we were sitting in the newly formed traffic and I locked eyes with a guy in a van. He wasn’t laughing. And I realized that this was his neighborhood. Or at least, the memories of Katrina were too fresh in his mind. It sobered me. Stacy must’ve picked up on it too, because we both went from giddy to pensive pretty quickly.

Apparently, it was the worst storm this year down here. I think. But again, to make yet another long story short, we make it back home just in time for the rain to stop. We had to leave my car down there because it wouldn’t have made it in the rain (we got it back safely the next day though).

To cap off such a crazy evening, the mercy response staff all head out to O’Henrys for nice meal. What. A. Day. CURRENT STATUS: Thankful.

3 comments July 22nd, 2006

Independence Day


What a day. Our outreach went really well! We think we ended up serving close to 70 people or so in the neighborhood and surrounding areas. I was in front of the grill the entire time, cookin’ up burgers and hot dogs for the folks. I enjoyed it. I hadn’t slept well the night before so my social battery was low. Lora on the other hand was all around socializing and talking with people. She was a rock star (that means she did awesome)!

Speaking of rock stars, we could NOT have gotten any of what happened yesterday done without the incredible help of some volunteers we met from the Kenner Vineyard young adult service (and of course, the mercy response cook, Pam). Ohh man, they were so helpful. They showed up, worked hard, and were just a gigantic blessing all day long. Very cool people. I think Lora and I would have been at each others throats for sure if not for these selfless souls. It was nice to get to know them, and hopefully a few friendships will form…

The people responded really well and were very thankful. There were several guys there who were from central or south america and couldn’t speak english- hopefully we left a good impression with them. And I think we did, despite the language barrier. There’s something about food that brings people together.

I also need to give a big shout out to God for the weather. The ENTIRE city was raining- cloud cover as far as the eye could see- except for two holes of sunshine, which, as it happend, floated right over our little ministry field one after the other. And it took just about the 3 hours we were operating to pass by! It literaly couldn’t have been planned better. The clouds provided shade, and it only sprinkled a little here and there which was refreshing instead of bothersome. Not 5 mins after we got back to the church did it start torrential downpouring. Harsh downpouring man. Amazing timing.

We had been invited to a few block parties that night- but instead decided to celebrate by taking showers and putting on our pjs (we were pooped). We went outside our apartment to look in the sky for fireworks and there were plenty of locals going crazy. Then a few minutes later we saw the main fireworks show from the lake start. We had a perfect view from our driveway. And as luck would have it, this is the south. So we, in our pjs, stood outside next to the other neighborhood folks also dressed (or not dressed, depending on your point of view) in their undies watching the show. Surreal, but fun.

I will say one thing- Columbus knows how to put on a fireworks show. Not so much here in the Big Easy (at least this year). I don’t know who was manning the show, but I’m pretty sure crack was involved. Everything was nice and normal, ooh and aah, and then boom- the finale! Yay! Except, wait… there were more fireworks. Ohh okay, nice fakeout. Except… no. They just stopped after awhile. It was as anticlimactic as it could get. Lora was a trooper though. She held on- “No, no the finale is coming!” 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes. Finally, okay, she agreed it was over, that they were done. It was like someone hit the finale button too early or something. Weird. In the end though we were just glad to see some, and the other locals agreed on the weirdness, so thats redeeming. I mean, its pretty incredible they even had any to begin with, all things considered.

And so, in summary: we had a busy day, a interesting evening, and a good night. But I am ready for some R&R. We’ll see what the rest of the week holds…

Hope everyone else had an awesome 4th!!!!!

2 comments July 5th, 2006



I actually said Y’all the other day without thinking about it. Its happening…


7 comments June 28th, 2006

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