Our volunteer team has made it safely to Louisiana, thanks be to God. Our flight to New Orleans via Chicago was comfortable -- and while the view of frozen Lake Michigan from 30,000 feet was breathtaking, it was a pleasure to see all that icy whiteness disappear from the landscape as we jetted southward.
We are now settling in at the Christian Family Center of the First Presbyterian Church in Slidell. We're fortunate to have a full-service kitchen, refrigerator and pantry, washers and dryers, bathrooms and showers, and a common lounge for reflection and meditation. (I'm writing this from the computer in the lounge.) We're bunking with a volunteer team from Willamette University in Oregon that is also working with the United Methodist Volunteers in Mission program to do home construction.
We'll be fixing most of our meals here at the church, but tonight we dined out locally at a very good Mexican restaurant and cantina (with live music). You can also be sure that we'll be delighting in some of New Orleans' fine cuisine during our excursions there.
Tomorrow it's on to New Orleans to meet with pastors involved with an interdenominational coalition of congregations called Churches Supporting Churches. The mission of this group is to promote "a comprehensive and just recovery strategy for the city of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Our focus is providing assistance to thirty-six hard-hit areas of New Orleans whose facilities were destroyed or seriously damaged by Hurricane Katrina." After a morning meeting with coalition pastors and their partners abroad, we will go on a guided tour of flood-damaged parts of the city with some ministers. We look forward to listening, learning, and being a loving presence with our sisters and brothers in the Spirit. In the evening we'll explore the cultural nightlife of New Orleans, taking in some good Cajun food and maybe a jazz band or blues combo. We'll have more than some company -- LSU and Ohio State football fans are flocking to Louisiana for the big bowl game (don't ask me which one -- all I know is that I was told to say "tiger bait" if I meet any LSU fans!).
Until tomorrow, be well in God's peace, and please continue to lend your prayers to our volunteers and the people we meet.