We just received this report from the KatrinaGrace Team that was in New Orleans this past week:
I set on the plane heading home, glad to go home but my heart is still in New Orleans and Slidell. As you know, there is still much loving to do there. I hope we never forget those folks still need hope and a bunch of lovin'.
Our group was the best! We worked well together. We worked hard, stayed flexible and had fun.
Monday thru Wednesday, we worked on new construction in Slidell. The homeowners became friends to us. The wife/mother, Jessica worked everyday we did, Anthony, the husband/father, worked with us on Monday but had to go back to work building Armored Service Vehicles M117s (ASVs). The very vehicle my son fought out of in Iraq. Nathan, my son, was extremely happy to know that I was working on a house for a fellow who built the ASV that saved his life more than once while he was at war in Iraq. Sort of a payback he says. Small world isn't it or does God just work that way?
When we arrived at the job site on Monday morning, we found a slab and a pile of wood. When we left on Wednesday, all exterior walls were up and dead straight, interior walls were framed, dead straight, top caps were on and 3/4s of the exterior sheeting was on. We were "cooking" on that house but disappointed the rain hindered us from getting the house dried-in. Another group will have the joy to finish the house we started so well.
Wednesday night a storm rolled in with a small tornado that touched down not far from us but Trinity Church was spared. Thursday saw mud and more rain so HH called off our work. Not to be deterred, we connected with a group being housed at the CastleRock yellow house, and joined them in the reconstruction or a small church in the ninth ward. We put up trim, laid laminate flooring, sprayed texture on walls (with telephone directions from my youngest son, Evan, back in Baltimore) and prayed for the men there selling drugs right in front of the church. We served well there.
Friday morning, we connected with Jessica, the homeowner of the house we were building on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We gifted her and her husband a rocking chair for their new front porch, a bike for the little girl, baseball cards, folder and notebook to hold baseball cards for the son crazy about baseball, a small ball and stuffed toy for the baby. We all cried and loved. We had prayer for the family and cried some more. I cried much there this time.
After the gift giving, we had lunch at KCs Bike Shop in Slidell, a place to visit and eat good po-boys. We met a crisis response person at a home in Slidell to do some "weed eating" for an elderly family who had just bought this abandoned home. Weed eating is a loose term in Louisiana. Weeds were more small trees and the blackberry vines were impossible to traverse. All of us worked in the light rain, high humidity, briars, and critters cleaning the 40' by 276' (almost a football field) sized back yard. When we saw it, we thought maybe we could clear only a few feet in the short time we were there. When we left - the backyard was cleared fence line to fence line. The Lord always multiplies effort. We were really disgusting by the end of the day, gumbo mud does stain blue jeans.
Again I say, the Jimmy Ro crew you commissioned was tremendous. When we left Baltimore, some had limited building skills, some had less, some had none. By the end of the week, we all acquired very guilty knowledge of framing, trimming and laying laminate flooring. Each of us came with a skill set and gift; no one failed to fully utilize their skill and gift; what a team! Each of us tried to love everyone we met. We practiced consensus decision making, understood each others' strengths and weaknesses building on the strengths and compensating for the weaknesses. We moved up the latter (forming, storming, norming, performing, adjourning) of team building faster than any team I have been a part of. Dr. Steve and I, both familiar with HR principles, feel we actually moved to the performing rung on Thursday and Friday. If you are interested, we can tell you more at the de-brief.
Our days started with an examination of scripture from the joy of Paul to the Philippines to the utilization of gifts in Ephesians, and thoughtful prayer. The Lord worked through us and within us. We saw His face in what we did and honor Him with the glory of our efforts. To the person, we come back different. You know what I mean.
I could go on, we are still an hour away from Baltimore but I will spare you. We will have a debrief soon with a picture show.
Thanks for allowing me to be a part of this crew and to love on the folks in New Orleans and Slidell.