Archive for August, 2006

Peggy

Lora_Said

Since we have less than a week to go, one of the women at the church has taken to asking me every day, “So, Lora, how does your last Wednesday feel?” or “How does your last Thursday feel?” just to get a rise out of me.
All in good fun, but I’m so not excited about our upcoming departure. :(

Add comment August 31st, 2006

August 29th, 2006

Lora_Said

Tuesday was the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. It came and went without much attention. I think outwardly at least, it was a bigger deal throughout the rest of the country than it was here. Most people I talked to didn’t “do” anything (go to any of the ceremonies, or special concerts being held) they just went to work, and intentionally didn’t turn on the TV. (I think internally it was a different story, though, but I didn’t hear much talk about anything from anyone.) I didn’t watch any of the news, but I heard that it was over kill on the television–and that the news kept showing the same couple clips of people doing the same violent behaviors we all saw last year.

This week we have a team from Michigan with us, and one of the women told me how refreshing it was to be here and realize that the people aren’t all crazy and irrational–they’re people just like anywhere else. All she’s seen on the news are the looters and the few crazies with guns.

I did notice all of the construction going on in the city that day. I don’t think that it was any more activity than on any other day, but just that I noticed where the city was one year later. Roads being rebuilt, electricians out, drywallers, people putting in pipe lines, trees being planted. There are always lots of workers out and about everywhere you go, but I had just gotten used to seeing them.

In other news, a cold front came through today. It’s breezy and cool and probably in the 80’s for the first time since we’ve been down here. You can breathe when you’re outside–it’s so refreshing. I sat out and talked to Pam and Stacy for a good long while this morning–none of us wanted to go inside!

Last night was our final Wednesday night cookout–seeing as how we’re leaving early next Wed morning. We fed over 200 people! and ran out of food at seven o’clock! (It’s supposed to go until eight!) I got to say goodbye to Tyrone, and his daughters, and a few of the guys from the Gideon church. I sure am going to miss it.

But for now I’m going back outside… to enjoy the breeze. :)

Add comment August 31st, 2006

Tipitina’s

Lora_Said

It rains here even when the sun is out, and the sky is blue with big white puffy clouds. Crazy.

Last night Pam’s daughter Becky’s boyfriend bought us tickets to hear the Rebirth Brass Band play at a club called Tipitina’s in “Uptown” New Orleans. (Uptown is… actually as far south as you can go–it’s right along the Mississippi river, in a scary warehouse district south of the Garden District.)

Tipitina’s is a favorite of the locals, and Becky told us that we had to go before we left. And, since we’re leaving in a week, yesterday seemed like a good time to go. Rebirth Brass Band is a really popular band around here from what I’m told–they were nine guys who did brass band music with… hip hop undertones. Two saxes, three trumpets, three drummers, two trombone players, and a tuba player. (I know that adds up to more than nine but some played more than one instrument.) They played for two hours non-stop. And by non-stop I mean it was all really one song with lots of movements. They didn’t break and have an end to any of the songs–they all just blurred into each other. Their endless energy and lung capacity were incredible. (Especially the tuba player who never stopped.)

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It really was a crazy experience. I went to a jazz club in Columbus with my friend Jeff once and there were all of eight people in the bar. Tipitina’s sold out last night. And everyone was young–it’s not like the jazz culture is a thing of the past–it’s a part of the city.

I was struck last night by the spirit of this town. On one hand there is a real loneliness and hopelessness down here that you sense when you talk to people. And on the other hand, they also have a strong desire to stick it out and see New Orleans rebuilt. The people who are here are the people who love this town and are willing to suffer through the aftermath of Katrina–even though it will take years (five? ten?) until this town is on its feet again.

Rebirth announced that they will be playing next Tuesday to celebrate the one year anniversary of Katrina. Mario, on Tuesday, told me where he would be: on his knees thanking God that they made it through another year. There’s a slogan around town I see on bumper stickers, yard signs and tee shirts: Rebirth, Rebuild, Re:new Orleans.

I think it’s appropriate that Rebirth Brass Band will play on Tuesday. Before I left to come down here, people would ask me what I thought–should they rebuild New Orleans or just bulldoze it. It made me pretty angry to be honest. I mean, why would we quit our jobs and move down here for three months if we just thought the whole place should be plowed over? But I’ve seen the same attitude even in people who come down here to gut houses with us. They ask “Why do people live here? Why don’t they just leave?”

But… I see that after they work here for a week and meet the people and meet the town, they get it. This city has a soul and the people who live here aren’t ready to just give up and move to Houston or Baton Rouge because it’s easier. This city is a part of who they are. Which is why I am rebuilding New Orleans. Because I think it’s worth saving.

Add comment August 26th, 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.

Enjoy!

1 comment August 25th, 2006

Worst Friends Ever

Lora_Said

This billboard is self explanatory. This guy has the worst friends ever:

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In other news, Mike posted about the cookout on Wed, but I thought I’d post a few pics. Here’s me and Pam getting ready. (Cooking two giant pots full of dirty rice!)

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Here’s me & Mario–one of the guys from the Gideon Christian Church. We met him at the Fourth of July cookout and he comes every week. He’s been to Columbus a few times to hear Rod Parsley, so we’ve bonded.

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Here’s Scott (“the new guy”) who is leaving tomorrow, but is probably coming back for four months in October, Aaron, the guy who does all the dry walling at the Gideon Church, and Mike.

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And, sadly, the wreck. Good thing that guy was okay–his truck skidded at least 50 yards.

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It’s sad that next Wed will be our last cookout! I’ll be sad to leave all our new friends. Even the security guards at the Fema parks that I bring meals to every week know me now!

1 comment August 25th, 2006

2 weeks left.

Mike_Said

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

Thursday Night, August 17th 2006

Lora_Said

I’ve been going back and forth in my mind over whether to post this or not… because it’s so personal. There are those several verses in the Bible where it says that Mary just “treasured these things in her heart” as Jesus grew up because she knew he was unique (to say the least!) and that he would do great things. I sort of feel like I want to treasure the things God did for me this week in my heart, but I also want you to know what God is really doing down here.

I’ve been having back pain for over two years–ever since I started working full time at the Artifact Group. I think sitting in the same position, hunched over to draw, for 40 hours a week was very hard on my body and my shoulders and neck sort of froze up. I would have sharp pains in my shoulder and no amount of massage (professional or from friends) would make it relax. Finally, fed up, I went to the chiropractor in January of this year. He gave me a free session, and showed me how locked up my neck was (I couldn’t move it very far to the left or right–and when he showed me how far it was supposed to move, I was in total disbelief.) and also, the bottom quarter of my spine was all locked together. That was a problem older than my time at the Artifact Group, since I never remember being flexible in my spine–and always failed the stretch tests in gym class growing up!

Since Mike’s health insurance wouldn’t cover the rest of the work I needed done at the chiropractor, I only went back once after that. It left me feeling worse than I felt before the first time I went, and for the last nine months I have been having all sorts of pain. Before coming down here to NOLA, I did yoga several times a week, and stretched five or ten times a day… but being down here I just haven’t had time for any of that. Which means everything has felt worse all summer long.

Which leads to Thursday. I was in more pain than usual, and we were having a Mercy Response staff meeting in Stacy’s trailer. Everyone had just gotten done praying for us about Mike’s job (or lack of job) situation. My normal tendency would be to just call it a night and not bother any of them anymore. But… I felt like I should step out there and just ask them to pray for my back.

I… honestly wasn’t expecting much, because friends have been praying for my back for years now. But… God has been stretching and healing me emotionally all summer long (and especially earlier that day) and I’m just not the person I was when I came down here in June. So… I did have a pinch of hope that maybe God had wanted to get that other stuff in order first, and then heal me.

And… he did. It wasn’t a fancy prayer–no people shouting and falling over, no audience, no commands to “claim it! claim it!”–just some friends putting their hands on me and saying, “Be healed in the name of Jesus.” It probably lasted all of two minutes, and when they were done Pam asked me how I was feeling. I bent over to test it and my entire lower portion of my spine was completely unlocked. I could touch the ground for the first time in as long as I can remember. I looked over at Mike and he was wide eyed and said, “I’ve never seen you bend over that far!” My neck is completely freed up, I can look back over my shoulders now. There’s no cracking and popping when I move, like I’ve had for the last nine months.

It’s a miracle. Like New Testament stuff.

I’ve never felt as light and free as I have these past few days. I keep bending over expecting things to be stiff again and they’re not. I have perfect posture now–I used to stand against a wall and Mike would try to pull my shoulders back to where they ought to be and my body physically was unable to do it. Now they sit there naturally.

I’m becoming increasingly convinced that Jesus called us down to New Orleans just to tell me he loved me… and have me really believe it. Because, if you’re going to win my heart, a good place to do it is New Orleans. 😉

Saturday was the seven year anniversary of the day I decided to follow Jesus. I remember saying, “I only want to do what you want me to do” over and over to him in the back seat of my friend’s Camry on a highway in Erie, PA. And here I am seven years later–I followed him to NOLA and in a few weeks, I’ll follow him back to Ohio. One thing this Christian life thing certainly is not is dull.

I’ve seen God do similar things here with congregation at the Kenner Vineyard. Most people came here from the Catholic church–where they have a very different perception on how you interact with God. After the storm, the Kenner Vineyard went from a church of 2,000 to a church of 200. They’re now back to about 1200 or 1500 and many of those faces are new. Saturday night during worship God’s Spirit just started touching people–and there was clapping and singing (loudly!) and hands raised and people just excited to be in the presence of God. I felt like I was back in Vineyard Columbus! :) It’s sweet to be in a congregation where many people are just experiencing God’s love for the first time. It’ll be amazing to see where they’re at a year from now…

5 comments August 21st, 2006

Don’t mess with my tutu!

Mike_Said

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

Mosquito Attract-o

Lora_Said

All of the sudden, without warning, the mosquitoes took over the camp on Tuesday.  We woke up, and there they were–you could barely eat breakfast because you had to stop and swat every few seconds.  At first we couldn’t figure out where they were coming from, and then we remembered–Monday, one of the men here finally hooked up the Mosquito Delete-o.

The Mosquito Delete-o is a contraption hooked to a propane tank which is supposed to kill mosquitoes.  It’s been sitting around camp for months, and none of us have figured out how to get the darn thing working. Until Monday, when someone did.  We didn’t think much about it–you know, how it works or anything–until the mosquitoes took over the camp.  Pam realized that the Mosquito Delete-o calls the mosquitoes to it in order to kill them.  And… it was sitting right next to the shower trailer on the campsite!

On Thursday I reached my breaking point when one bit me on the face.  I had the guy who turned it on promptly turn it off.

The mosquitoes are much better now.  😉

3 comments August 19th, 2006

Baskim & Sephilla

Lora_Said

The cookout last night was, as usual, a blast.  We had several ladies help in the kitchen all day so by the time we got to the cookout I wasn’t totally exhausted and was able to have a lot of fun.  Phil and Mike grilled pork chops and Pam made some sort of Cajun white roux peas & sausage medley which was amazing.  (Because what’s a meal in N’allins without the sausage?)

I saw a couple there last night who I’d met at the second barbecue, and they’ve been back ever since.  They are named (I’m not kidding) Baskim & Sephilla.  They had dated on and off all through college (she sat in the front row, he in the back, and he’d watch her all through class–awww!) but after college she joined the Peace Corps and traveled the world for seven years.  During that time, they lost touch.  When Katrina hit, she stayed in her house to care for her cats, but once the water rose to the ceiling, she put some cat food in the attic, and swam for the interstate.  Through eight or ten feet of water.  And it’s about a half a mile swim.  (That water had a current and a stench to remember, also, I’ve been told.)  She made it because she’s very athletic, and spent the next nine or ten months in Seattle.  During those seven years in the Peace Corps she tried desperately to find Baskim, but never could.  But… during that time in Seattle she finally located him, called him, and he dropped what he was doing in Idaho and drove to Washington to meet her.  As the story goes, as soon as they saw each other, they kissed and then he immediately said, “We’re getting married, right?” and she said, “Absolutely.”  And… three weeks later they got married on the summer solstice.

He’s a carpenter, so he didn’t want a wedding band that would get bent and damaged so their wedding rings are tattooed onto their fingers!  They’re little suns (because of the solstice) and great conversation starters.

It’s still crazy that I’m meeting people with stories like this.  In other news, Tyrone was sad to hear I’ll be leaving in a few weeks.  He said he’s going to buy me an authentic New Orleans souvenir before I go… but I don’t know what’s more authentic than the crawfish he bought me! :)

Add comment August 17th, 2006

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