Archive for June, 2006

Random Bits

Lora_Said

Random odds and ends from the last week:

For maybe the first time since Mike’s known me, I have a suntan. How did he say it makes me look? Dirty.

Only in New Orleans are “Piety St.” and “Desire St.” right next to each other.

The team from Tennessee decided it was a good idea to go fishing in a canal. (I guess you’d have to have seen a N.O. canal to get the grossness factor of that one.)

In the canals and swamps live big, Brazilian beaver rats with orange teeth called “Nutria.” (I’m not making that up.) Swamp people eat them. Some restaurants are said to… uh… serve them.

While mowing the lawn of Gideon Christian Church (and six other houses on that street) on Wed, I drank five bottles of water, got four blisters, and was honked at by seven perverts people.

Someone is slowly moving their stuff into our apartment, though we haven’t been told we’re moving out yet.

And… we’re going to see Superman tonight. 😉

3 comments June 30th, 2006

Fourth

Lora_Said

So… Like Mike said, we got our first assignment–to organize a Fourth of July Community Cook Out with Gideon Christian Fellowship Church. Today we went out and scoped out three potential sites to hold it. The site we settled on is a church-owned, empty lot across from a FEMA trailer park, just a few streets south of Gideon Church itself. We went door to door knocking on trailers, inviting people to come.

To be totally honest, I was a bit uncomfortable. When I’ve done door to door knocking about some event we’re throwing in Columbus, it always makes me edgy. I guess because interacting with strangers is not my favorite activity.

But… after the security guards left us into the trailer park, it was surprisingly easy! I think they were just happy to see someone smiling at them. We knocked on about sixty trailer doors, and talked to people in almost half of them. People were… edgy. A week or so ago, someone went into such a trailer park in Slidell (a city on the other side of Lake Pontchartrain) and killed a whole family. I’m not sure if that one event shook people up, or if they didn’t feel safe living there even before the shooting. Several people just shouted through their window and talked to us through the blinds. One guy undid about five locks on the inside of his door before he opened it.

In any event, once people did open the door, they lit up when they heard what we were doing. The only people who said they wouldn’t be there were those that would be out of town on the fourth–and they sounded disappointed that they were going to miss it. I’m pretty sure that Mike and I picked the right spot for this thing. The other neighborhoods we were considering (the Upper 9th Ward and Mid City) had a lot of people on their porches, living in trailers at their homes, riding around on bikes, etc. They… already had community, to a certain extent. This gravel-floored trailer park had nowhere for kids to play! Nowhere to just sit outside and talk to a neighbor. Small, small trailers for whole families! It was depressing.

Our hope is that they come out for an afternoon, stuff themselves on hot, free food, and get to know each other a bit so that trailer park doesn’t feel so much like a concentration camp, but a bit more like a neighborhood.

One of the teams that came down here to gut houses bought a kiddie swing set and put it behind the church where one of the Mercy Response guys used to live in a trailer with his wife and kids. He left a few weeks ago and and the swing set is sitting there totally unused… We want to take it down and set it up in the empty lot where we’ll be grilling! (And leave it there.) We’re going to pull the weeds and mow and stuff, and a swing set might just make it the kind of place where people can bring their kids, hang out and talk for awhile.

We’ll keep you updated as things progress for our event!

2 comments June 30th, 2006

Y’all.

Mike_Said

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

 

7 comments June 28th, 2006

Busy bee.

Mike_Said

It’s been a busy 7 days or so. Getting up early, not getting home until 10 or later. I’ve been really wanting to connect with people, but time and energy has been in short supply. Hopefully I’ll be able to make up for it soon.

We’ve had a few ups and downs while being here, literally and figuratively. This week the house we went to gut had a strange effect on me. Eddie from last week told us that he could barely get anything done on his house before we showed up, because he would start and then just get sad and slowed until he stopped. I kind of felt that way in the house this week. We had lots of things in our favor. Tempurature, breeze, shade, most items were removed from the house, a good team, very nice homeowner- but nevertheless, it was painstakingly slow. And hard. Not to mention that the house had the worst termite damage I’ve ever seen. I even fell through the floor up to my waist (one leg only, thank goodess). But don’t tell my mom that or she might get worried.

In other news, we are starting a small group made up of the mercy response people (5 total, including us). I am really looking forward to this, as God seems to be doing something already. I am already wishing I could take all these wonderful people back to my neighborhood to live in columbus.

I still intend to tweak and then eventually revamp the Mercy Response website, but it’s been a slow start because we’ve been so busy in other areas. Hopefully I’ll finally be able to get in contact with their web people soon and get that ball rolling.

And finally, we’ve got a new project to work on- and it needs to happen fast. We have been assigned to a community outreach, not in kenner, but a much more badly hit area of town. It will be a 4th of July BBQ. We’re going to have to canvas the neighborhood, put up fliers, cook the food, pray and hope for the best. Hopefully it will bless people. So if you’re the praying sort, we could use favor with them as we invite.

All right, all right- it’s getting to be dinner time and Phil’s cooking (my roomie) and HE IS THE BOMB on the grill – I’m not going to miss any of that!!!

1 comment June 28th, 2006

From Sea to Shining Sea

Lora_Said

One of the more interesting facets of our job that I did not anticipate is the cultural differences that emerge between the different teams that come down to serve. Just since I’ve been here, we’ve had teams from Tennessee, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. Our Mercy Response team members come from Louisiana, Nebraska, Iowa, Alabama and Ohio! By the end of the month, we’ll have had teams come in from Indiana, Oklahoma, Nebraska, California, Michigan, and Illinois!

A team from Chattanooga is currently here, and I just got done listening to a girl describe an eclair as “a really fancy Twinkie.”

In other news, I found some people to go see Superman Returns with us later this week. Rock on.

4 comments June 27th, 2006

Eddie

Lora_Said

We went out house gutting again today. I must say, as the days go on, my aversion to it grows less and less. I’ve gotten quite efficient at pulling down trim and drywall–er, “sheetrock”–and almost enjoy it. Well… not the hot, sweaty, moldy part, but the physical labor part. Today, we took the team back and they cashed /out/… And I took my shower, ate, dinner and am ready to go. Mike called ’em rookies. 😉 Going back to a desk job might not be all it’s cracked up to be… I like moving during the day.

But… in the team’s defense, I did spend a good half hour slacking talking to the home owner today. Remember Laurie and Jeremy who we worked with most of last week? We worked on her brother-in-law’s home today. He was so charming! I absolutely loved him! He worked with us all day long, sweating as much as (or more than) we did. I told him, “Eddie, you’re working waaay too hard! We came out here so you *didn’t* have to work!” He told me that he can’t just watch people work. He said just one time he hired someone to do work for him–a kid to mow his lawn–and he couldn’t stand watching him so he went out, and helped him finish! Then he paid him anyway! (Sounds like a favorite grandfather of mine…)

Anyway, over lunch he told us his whole story–how he rode out the storm downtown, miraculously ran into Jeremy in “the Quarter”, got sent out to Galveston, TX, and then back, and all the different networks (he said it was like a human internet) of New Orleans people who passed info to one another about what states and cities missing people were living. He said it made you realize how many good people are out there, and how people really do want to help out. (I haven’t heard that from everyone down here, mind you, but it was refreshing to hear it from him!)

After lunch I took a break, and he sat down, too, and started asking if any of us had ever heard of Jazz Fest. Having been there myself in ’04m that spiraled the two of us in a half hour conversation about all the great spots and events to hit in New Orleans. That man loves this city, its people and its culture… I got the names of some good jazz clubs I’m going to check out, and some cannot miss restaurants. I absolutely love New Orleans, too, and I loved that he got so excited talking about it all. I… had… a blast. And, I’m making sure Mike and I check out a place called “The Maple Leaf” on a Wed night. 😉 The Rock-a-Bowl sounds like a winner, too!

The conversation ended when he realized that I’d never heard of a New Orleans snow ball. He said, “That’s it–that’s what I’ll do–I’m buying you all snowballs!”

And… he did.

It was… a snow cone with ice cream in the middle! So yummy! There were nine of us, fighting heat exhaustion, covered in dirt, sweat and mold eating snow balls together at a heavily populated snowball stand in a middle class ‘burb! Absolutely priceless! A team from Chattanooga is going to return to his house next week to finish working on his house. Just the drywall and ceilings are left (the team today got so much done!) I think… I might put in a request to go work with them that day. :)

6 comments June 23rd, 2006

Cool people.

Mike_Said

We’ve been without teams so far this week, but we’re *really* looking forward to who is coming this week- people from our smallgroup Kinship X!!!!! Last week we had great fortune to work with this team from Indiana – Those people were great. They busted their butts (and we along with them). At the end of the week, another team from my church (Joshua House!) had come and even though I didn’t gut with them, it was great to talk with them about their experiences.

Lora and I are now just a day away from the big boss coming back from his vacation. Once he’s here some bigger picture things will begin to take shape, and that will be cool. We have some ideas that (we hope) are good ones. It will simultaneously be more interesting because we’re staying at this guys place until a trailer is secured for us. So that means we are now roomies with the very guy who is calling our shots.

2 comments June 20th, 2006

Little things.

Mike_Said

The south certainly does things a little bit different down here. There are a lot of simple, interesting things to take note of. People are somewhat more patient with other drivers. There have been some delays on the road, mistakes etc by folks, but in a city this big, I’ve heard maybe 1 or 2 honked horns, and to be honest, I think those were hey howya doin’ honks to people they recognized…

The people here are friendly too. Almost everybody says, hey howya doin’ instead of pretending people don’t exist. And what’s really weird is that everyone, when they hear what we are here for, is very intentional and sincerely deliberate to say Thank You, and that it means a lot to them. Blows my mind.

1 comment June 20th, 2006

The Call of the Wild

Lora_Said

There are currently no teams here to gut houses. The next one arrives Wednesday evening, and on that team are a few of our friends! In the meantime, Mike and I are reorganizing the tool shed. I don’t think anyone has had the time to really organize it, and supplies were everywhere–boxes sat unopened and unlabeled in the back of the shed.

It’s hot in there, but we got it almost finished today. Tomorrow we’ll make a Home Depot run to buy all the tools we need to complete our inventory. We’re also going to make some signs so teams can quickly and easily get the tools they need.

Other than that… our apartment has crickets! Two nights ago we woke up around four AM to a really loud chirping. I thought it was coming from outside my window. It eventually stopped… until six AM when it started again! We both woke up and Mike realized that it was sitting on a chair in our bedroom! He caught it and let it free outside… But… we heard it again this morning! Mike got up, angrily threw some things around and eventually found it in our closet! This time, he didn’t set it free–the poor thing got the bottom of a shoe. I just hope that means no early morning wake up calls tomorrow!

5 comments June 20th, 2006

Suckin’ heads and pinchin’ tails.

Mike_Said

Thats what we did last night. At the pastor’s house.

Earlier this week we were invited to a dinner at the pastor’s house. When we arrived, we knew which house it was because there was a helium balloon in the shape of a big lobster hanging on the mailbox. That was my first clue. We went out back where the party was and found a beautiful backyard with tables set up, coolers full of beverages and 3 rather large suspicious looking boxes next to other foods.

Yep, it was time to eat crawfish. Lots of crawfish.

Down here, the expression suckin’ heads and pinchin’ tails refers to the process of eating boiled crawfish in mass quantities. MASS quantities. I’d probably give my left pinky toe to have the look on Lora’s face preserved forever for all to see. The sheer look of horror and a 1000 seafood nightmares flashing across her face was priceless as people used big scoops to pile mound after mound of these significantly sized sea critters onto a huge carton.

Of course, there is a technique to get the savory, meaty goodness from this chicken of the sea. First, you twist the tail off. Colored gunk and other unmentionables seperate from the rest of the husk. Then you peel off the first large scale on the tail. Then, pinching the base of tail (which relieves some kind of tension), you may then grab hold of the meat and pull it out successfully. This part looks and tastes a lot like shrimp except they boil it with seasoning to make it have a mild spicy flavor. And is slighty more red in color.

Now for the slightly more daring, comes the part where you take the other top half of the crawfish, put the hole where the tail used to be to your mouth and suck the flavorful juices out and then quickly pop the tail meat into your mouth and eat.

Repeat and enjoy.

I (and many locals) are not up to the experience of “suckin’ heads” yet, and I doubt I ever will be. I did however pinch many tails and was having a rather fun time of it. Lora had her tails pinched for her, and was having a hard enough time keeping her jaw shut during the meal. Luckily there were other things there for us newbies to eat.

What I really enjoyed about the whole thing was how casual and social it all was. It was somewhat surreal being an outsider doing this for the first time, because every once and awhile you step back an notice that there are GIGANTIC mounds of dead carcasses piled on tables as people are just having fun socializing. But really though, past that, it was a truly nice experience talking with people, being relaxed and having this great southern cultural experience. The people were really friendly. We spent most of time talking with the head of young adult ministry who is the pastor’s son. He is really great and among other things, said he’d take me out shooting guns with him sometime (a mutual hobby of ours).

All in all a wonderfull evening. My single greatest regret is that we forgot our camera at home. I was assured however that there would be more of these types of things before we leave. We will not forget again!

8 comments June 17th, 2006

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