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

Thursday Night, August 17th 2006


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!


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


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


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



Last night, when Mike and I got back to Pam’s, there was an American Eagle gift bag with a green card on it marked “Lora” hanging on our bedroom door knob.  It turns out that Pam’s daughter Becky had been shopping, saw a shirt she thought I would like and bought it for me!  It was a totally unexpected and sweet surprise!!

I thought I would post a picture of the Mercy Response staff that we took at K Paul’s on Saturday night.  After our week of crazyiness last week, I guess Phil decided some staff bonding was a good idea (everyone was in as good a mood as I was, if you catch my drift).  K Paul’s is the restaurant in the French Quarter that created the blackening technique that Louisiana is now famous for.  All I can say is a-mazing.  Luckily none of us are germaphobes, so we all tasted each other’s dinners.  Personally, I think that Stacy’s filet mingnon was the best…

From left to right is Scott, the new guy here for three weeks from Texas (by way of Philadelphia), Stacy, Phil, yours truly, Mike and Pam.  Just some faces to put with the crazy misadventures you’ve read about.  The basket of bread on the table contained yeast rolls, corn bread, jalapeno & cheddar bread and these little molassis bread muffins. How do you pick just one? Yum!

Right now there is a team here from Pennsylvania!  They’re from Philadelphia, which used to seem like far away, but down here they’re like kin!!  :)

3 comments August 15th, 2006

Last week, this week.


So… last week is over. (amen!) The cookout on Wednesday was awesome, though. Because we had so many teams here, we sent them into the neighborhoods to hand out fliers and invite people. The good news is that many people they met had already heard about it, and some said they already had plans to come.

It rained all night (a steady rain, but no thunder, lightning, or flooding) so a lot of people took their food to go. And, for the first time, we ran out of food! All that was left were some rolls, and a little bit of bread pudding. (We fed 200 people.) So Pam and I will have much more cooking to do for this week, so that doesn’t happen again!

Today teams from two churches arrive, but they’re much smaller groups–a team of five, and one of seven. Both, ironically enough, were church plants started from Joshua House–our church in Columbus.

Yesterday was a very relaxing day spent in the quarter (though we had ourselves a few adventures which I think Mike wants to post about). They finished repairing the roof of the Superdome and the Saints will play in New Orleans again this year! There is a big sign on it which says “Reopening Sept 22nd.” I think it’s good to reclaim it as an icon for the city since a lot of people have bad (to say the least) memories there.

Anyways, we slept in yesterday and today and things are looking much rosier for tomorrow. :)

Add comment August 13th, 2006

Lack of zzz’s


This week we had the most people here since Mike and I arrived. They were a very outgoing and energetic group of… almost eighty people. Add to that lack of sleep, and also that I didn’t get a weekend last week, and also that every free moment was spent reading and studying for my Vineyard Leadership Institute midterms and you can get a picture of how bright and sunny this week has been for me. I took my test this morning, and haven’t spoken much besides a few grunts since then.

The last thirty people will leave tonight, so the staff will have both Saturday and Sunday off. So… if I haven’t posted or called as of late… that’s why.

It’s interesting to me how on these most crappy of weeks that God usually shows up in a significant way. Probably because I’m the most undone and willing to listen to whatever he has to say. Last night Phil had the Mercy Response staff listen to a CD called “I AM” that had music and a narrator reading 365 different names and attributes of God. It’s funny how a week of non-stop studying the deeper nuances of Systematic Theology and it’s a 30 minute CD that leaves me utterly undone and in tears. I suppose it’s because the facts of God and the person of God can seem so utterly distanced from one another at times and last night… I was just able to look into the face of God and see his kindness and strength and compassion and enormity and ferocity clearly once again…

Tonight I think we’re going out for coffee and music at a place called PJ’s. I think I need some brain numbing fun. 😉

2 comments August 11th, 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

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