It’s hurricane season again.
Several days ago I posted Remember Hurricane Katrina. This is the rest of my story.
A few months after Hurricane Katrina caused such devastation in New Orleans (and other Gulf areas) I was asked by the youth leaders of our church to act as a chaperone for the annual youth mission trip that was to occur in July. Guess where they were going? New Orleans.
I thought about it long and hard because:
1. I had never been on a mission trip.
2. I would have to drive the whole way myself, about 12 hours, which I had never done. I usually acted as the relief driver.
3. New Orleans in July?!!!
4. New Orleans in July with limited air conditioning where we were staying?
But I was truly so touched by the people we had interacted with at Panama City Beach days after the hurricane hit that I knew I was going on that trip as soon as I was asked.
It was a memorable experience in so many ways. Two of my kids were in the youth group. They went too. I was inspired by both of them for different reasons, and I learned so much about them and from them that week.
I was amazed by the gratitude of the people we worked with. Our mission was to gut houses that had been untouched since the hurricane hit so they could be repaired. One couple cried and hugged us all as we piled out of the three vehicles we were in. They had been living in a tiny FEMA trailer that sat in the front yard of their house for almost a year waiting for someone to come help them begin to rebuild their lives.
It was mind boggling to me that after one year there was still so much devastation to be seen. So many areas still had no power. So many trailers in front yards. So many piles of everything that was once in the house now piled in the front yards of so many homes.
I would love to show you some pictures I took while we were there but I can’t find them!!!
There was a big boat in the middle of a neighborhood that had crashed into a house with no waterway around for miles!
Cars were planted on end in the ground where the hurricane had left them.
Foundation after foundation in one area where houses had been before Katrina hit.
The random house in tact sitting among the many houses that had been hit and had yet to be repaired.
The baby rats that we found as we worked in the muck that was a foot deep inside the house.
I could tell you too how I felt to learn that my uncle died while I was in New Orleans, and how I was unable to go home for the funeral to be with my family (especially my dad) because I had made a commitment; or the countless other personal inconveniences I endured; but I won’t, because to do so would take the focus off of the importance of the mission…to help a fellow human being who had suffered such loss.
I would draw on that experience during a very difficult time in my life that had yet to happen, and I still do.
I have a whole new perspective about belongings and our “stuff“.
It was a rough week but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
I wonder what it’s look likes today…
What experiences have you had that changed the way you think?