Monday, July 17, 2006

Mike and Sari

Every now and then you luck out and get a really animated couple willing to do almost anything for a good picture. This weekend I was blessed with such a couple. Sari and Mike quickly became one of my favorite couples to work with. I fell in love with Sari the first day I met her - so easy going and completely willing to ham it up for the camera. I knew the day promised to be a good one when while getting ready, Sari broke into a dance to some quality New Kids on the Block music! No one says it better than the New Kids. Sari is great on her own, but add Mike to the equation, and the magic begins. The two of them together is like watching your favorite sitcom! They are the couple everyone wants to be around and be like! They even have their own private handshake - which truly does put all other secret handshakes to shame!! I have no doubt that these two will laugh more and enjoy each other more than they ever imagined. I wish you both the very best that marriage has to offer!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Lower 9th Ward

We took a brief tour of the Lower 9th Ward. We had started getting used to seeing flood damage. That changed today. The devestation is beyond words. The area is a ghost town. The only people around are those bulldozing houses. Entire sections are empty except for a few foundations and front porch steps. Cars are stacked everywhere. It looks like a war zone. -JDP

...CLICK HERE... to view just a small sample of the devistation.

Heat? What heat?

Another update from our star basketball player John David:

Day 5:

We are getting more efficient. One team gutted a home today and nearly did as much work in one day as they did in the 2 previous days combined. The other team spent the day at a public charter high school doing some finishing touches. We also saw a a few crawfish that one owner had as pets. Another homeowner from earlier in the week treated the entire group to pizza (the best in New Orleans we hear).

Tomorrow, we are finishing the last of our work. We have 2 houses to complete in the morning. After that we plan to clean up and go back to the Lower 9th Ward so that those who weren't with us today. We will also go into the French Quarter.

It's hard to believe that tomorrow is our last work day. It's amazing to see what God has done. This is without the greatest mission trip we never planned. The team has been great. This is the most unified, hard-working group of teenagers I've ever worked with. God is good.

...CLICK HERE... to view a slideshow of our latest images.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Git 'Er Dun...

This is a picture of Deborah (the woman whose house we gutted) smashing her television on her front lawn... one of the many things she is forced to leave behind.

Day 4:

I apologize for not getting word out last night. We were all pretty exhausted and attempted to get to bed early (or just earlier). We did manage to make a trip to the Walmart Supercenter where we stocked up on junk food and other necessities. We were also told numerous times that it was obvious we are not from around here.

We completed 2 houses today. Both homeowners were overwhelmed with gratitude. One homeowner has been feeding her group all week. The other is taking all 29 of us out for dinner tomorrow night. We are overwhelmed at the generousity of those who have lost so much. They continue to give beyond measure. After finishing one of the houses, one team started working on the garage of another home, where they said that they were outnumbered by cockroaches 50 to 1. The house even included a few flying roaches.

We will attemp to do laundry tonight. WE HAVE TO. We cannot hold out any longer. The plan is to get some clean(er) clothes and do some finish up work on another house tomorrow and around a local elementary school.

Did I mention that thiis has been an amazing week?

The Paraguay/New Orleans Team

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Paraguay gone New Orleans...

As many of you know, I have been helping out with our church senior high youth group for the past few years. For the past year we have been planning to take 30 of our kids on a mission trip to Paraguay. While there we planned to teach English and do some construction of seminary buildings. Well, as usual, God had His own plans and on the day we were supposed to leave for Paraguay, our Brazillian airline went BANKRUPT!! After many hours of endless phonecalls made by our Youth Pastor, John David - to EVERYONE he knew, he quickly rerouted our trip to New Orleans to help out with Katrina relief.

After two hours of planning, 30 of us hopped in 3 vans and made our trek south. Three days later, numerous fast food encounters, countless stops to the restrooms, and way too much road music we arrived in New Orleans. Here is an excerpt from an update our youth pastor sent:

Day One: A somber ride into the city of New Oreleans brought forth feelings of sympathy and compassion for the people of the area. At this point, all that we have been told is that we will be gutting the flood damaged houses near our home base. The church is in the 20% of the city that was not ruined by the floods last August. The other 80% in which we are working in was hit quite bad and are practically abandoned. We are staying at Berean Bible Church on the outskirts of the city. There are three other high school groups here but the building is comfortable and the AC is cold. This trip is different from your typical youth missions trip- it is part road trip, part missions and part summer camp. Well, it's time to hit the old dusty trail. Tune in tomorrow. Paa-ting.

The Paraguay/New Orleans Team
(this email originally composed by Dan Majorowski & David Gallagher)

Nothing could have prepared us for what we were to encounter. Devistation is everywhere and remains of Katrina leave a haunting presence all throughout the neighborhoods. Here is another excerpt from day 2:

Day 2

Today was more than we could have imagined. We divided into 2 teams
and began gutting 2 different homes on the west bank of New Orleans.
One house was less than 2 blocks from where the levee broke. The
homeowers have been extremely gracious and overwhelmed us with
hospitality and generousity. The devastation is hard to
describe. Pictures and television do not to it justice. All the
earthly possessions that these people owned are in piles in the houses
where flood waters moved them around. Other things are still in place
like normal life was going on when the flooding began. One group even
found dinner in the oven. To make things worse, looters have already
raided the houses and taken anything that had any valuel. It is
difficult throwing out years of memories for these people while they
sit and watch, but all the homeowners are grateful to God and speak of
nothing but blessings. We have heard no one complain about their
situation. They have heard the story of how we ended up here, andwe
all agree that God has done something amazing. We could not have planned a better mission fact, we didn't. Everyone agrees that this is a life-changing experience for us all. We are anxious to
see what God is going to do tomorrow. We begi n at 7:15am in morning.
It's more stripping of sheet rock.

...CLICK HERE... to view a slideshow of images from the houses we've been gutting.