Saturday, May 30, 2009

i don't really know where to start.... i haven't blogged since the trip began. there's so much i've learned and realized over the past week, its hard to get my thoughts together. so bear with me....

my dad's family is from new orleans, and we used to spend part of our summer vacations here. so, i've gotten to experience the city several times before. the team even got a chance to meet my grandparents, my dad's brothers, and an aunt of mine. i had even seen the damage from katrina about a year and a half ago, so i was ready for what everything would look like. but being in the city this week was different.

i remember driving through the lower ninth ward in january 08 and seeing how empty it still was. it was really depressing to see how drastically things had changed and how much work needed to be done. but this time, we got to see how deep the depression really goes. its even in the children. there's so much hopelessness here and serving at the carpenter's house and walking through the neighborhood gave me a new perspective on what life here is really like. for the longest time, i was convinced that this trip was going to be about rebuilding homes for people who lost them in the storm, but people here were struggling before the storm. from conversations we've with various people, the city needs its men to step up and be role models, the government is corrupt, and to top it off, we're in a recession that's making life even harder for people who were already struggling. people can't find work, and organizations like the carpenter's house are getting less donations and trying to serve more people. spiritually, a lot of people seem broken and discouraged. above all else, i now understand that the physical work we did is secondary to the spiritual. God heals the broken hearted and comforts those with a contrite spirit (isaiah 57:15), and i just pray that we were able to do that for at least one person in the neighborhood.

even though there was a lot of hopelesness and depression, it was really encouraging to see people who i would've thought had a reason to complain, being completely thankful to God for the little they did have. the leadership at carpenter's house has been great too. listening to their testimonies and seeing how God's worked in their lives and how they've given up or lost everything and are now serving the Lord with joy, just reminds me that no matter what we go through, God still deserves praise. He's working things out behind the scenes....

i couldn't imagine a better team. we compliment each other and i've learned a lot from and about each of you. i'm not going to write each person an individualized thing, but i hope everyone knows how much i've enjoyed and been blessed by the fellowship and devotionals we've had this week. i really truly love you guys. leading this trip hasn't always been easy, and i know some of you have witnessed my minor freakouts about random things, but i'm pretty sure God knew what he was doing. kennard, thank you for stepping up to co-lead with me. i could probably say alot more, but i'll keep it simple and just say that i admire the way you've led this team.

with that, its finally time for bed. we go back to maryland tomorrow. hopefully, i'll be back here sometime soon...


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