New Orleans was amazing. I don't think I've ever experienced anything like it. We had worship in the Superdome. Listening to all 38,000 of us singing with the house band was an incredibly moving experience. There was a crazy amount of conga lines going. And SO MUCH DANCING!!!! My favorite song by far was He Lifts You Up by Audio Adrenaline
The week wasn't just about worship, but about service as well. My group helped to paint Room 310 in the Charles R. Drew Elementary School. It was a lot of work and by lunch most of us were in horrible moods, but in the end it was well worth it. We also got to know the guy in charge of the renovations on the school. His name is Troy. He hasn't left NOLA in over 4 years. He lost everything in Katrina, but is still working to get more and more schools open. He really is an incredible man.
Speaking of Katrina, you would be amazed how much is left to be done in the recovery from the storms of that fall. Everywhere we went there were houses and other buildings that are STILL boarded up. It's been 4 years since Katrina and Rita hit the gulf, and the levy broke. It is amazing how much work there is left to do. I mean, there are families still living in FEMA trailers. I know they wouldn't stand a chance with out them, but the trailers are smaller than my dorm room in Woodlawn. That is great for a short term fix, but not for as long as these people have been forced to live in them. There just isn't the man power to rebuild any faster than they are.
One of the things that was so cool about this trip was seeing how the 38,000 of us were such a presence in the city. You couldn't go anywhere without seeing some high schoolers wearing brightly colored t-shirts. It was incredible. We descended on that city like a swarm of non-destructive locust. The mayor of NOLA told us that the amount of we would accomplish in 3 days would take the city 3 years to complete normally.
In the mass gatherings we would have worship, then would listen to different speakers. It was really cool. I picked up on the recurring theme of how one person can change the world. It was an awesome time of affirmation for me. There was one speaker who literally said to not lose our idealism. That is something I needed to hear. It was also really cool how the Superdome was full of other people who are committed to changing the world.
I've been home from New Orleans for about 5 days now. I've spent those days resting and unpacking from the trip. Even still, I get really fired up thinking about the trip. I am so thankful I was able to go. It was most definitely a once in a lifetime experience.