Friday, January 4, 2008

Photos available online

If you're interested in seeing a collection of photos from this experience, click below:

SOUL Web Album: Service Trip 2007

Check out a preview of the album in the slideshow just to the right of this page!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I am so glad that I kept a journal throughout the trip because there is no way I would have remembered all of the experiences we had. New food and new people are just part of it. The culture and way of life is so different from what I am used to. It has been so much fun being able to talk to friends and family about New Orleans. It is amazing how much can be learned from just 6 days.

In those 6 days we can't say that we rebuilt a town, restored a community, or even put up a house. What we can say though, is that we helped. Hundreds of people, at Camp Hope alone, help do all of those things everyday. It has really been a blessing to be a part of something much bigger than just myself. New Orleans really does need all of the help out there.



The word of the day is home, because we are finally home and boy does it feel good to take hot showers and have clean laundry. But more than that, home brings the holidays and the great fortune that I have been blessed with. As I spend time with my family, over meals and presents, I can't help but think of those in New Orleans who have yet to be able to go HOME. In New Orleans we helped build homes, so that some people will be able to have something to call their own again, but I believe that we did more than that. We brought hope to those who saw us working on and in their beloved city and we also bring home with us awareness that we can share with others way here up north so that they too can know of the devastation and be moved to do something about it.
This trip was a wonderful experience for me, one that I can't wait to do again next year. To wrap up this blog and the experience of our trip in general, I just want to leave all of you readers with some awareness of the situation many in our Christian or even just humanly community are facing. I urge and challenge you all to act upon the feeling you experience to want to help, anything, no matter how small, will be something to those people. Be it your money, your time, or even just your prayers, these people need whatever you can share.
God Bless,

Monday, December 24, 2007

All good things must come to an end. . .

I’ve been back home for about 24 hours now and for the most part, I’ve not been able to stop thinking about the wonderful city that now has a small part of my heart. I think about what we did while we were there, did twelve kids from Ohio who insulated a few houses, helped with roofing, and put up siding really make a difference on the whole? I think about what lies ahead for the city, will the culture and history of that city someday be back? I think about what is needed to bring the people back, will the new homes of the lower ninth ward be enough to bring the people back?

The answers to those questions can only be answered in time, but for now, for me, it is enough to hope that one day New Orleans will be remembered not for the destruction and pain that it still encompasses, but for the love, respect, and strength which fills the hearts of those who are there.

My time in New Orleans, as short as it was, was an amazing experience that I will never forget. It taught me a lot about faith in other people, faith in God, and faith in one’s self. The people that I met there, citizens of New Orleans, Americorps volunteers, and Habitat volunteers have all changed me and the way I view not only that city, but the world in one way or another. The experience, as trying and difficult and frustrating as it was for me at times, is something that I will keep with me for the rest of my life. I can’t seem to find the right kinds of words to accurately say how amazing this trip was or how appreciative I am to have been able to experience it.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


That's right folks: the trip is over. Most of us are home, taking warm showers, and wishing for a white Christmas at last.

I think Katie said it best when she said the end was bittersweet. Quite honestly, if it weren't for the holidays, I could spend weeks more working away. On the drive home I vowed to stay awake until we crossed the lake... my heart ached to see the city go.

Over the course of the trip I took the role of unofficial tour guide (a part that was sometimes fun and sometimes frustrating to play) and it only made me realize all the more that my heart is with New Orleans. It's hard in such a short time to not only give cursory details ("This is where we are...") but also try to express the social and political situation in New Orleans. I hope that somehow I gave some understanding to the others on the trip-- that they were touched by what they were doing. We weren't just working on Habitat houses; we were working in New Orleans. How the heck was I supposed to explain the history of the city, the demographics, the attitudes, the culture-- anything worthwhile-- in those brief car rides? As someone who likes to think she's got some way with words, it's hard for me to not be able to express just how I feel about Nawlins.

I miss it all... the sights... the sounds... the food (Po Boys, jambalaya, gumbo, seafood, oh my)... the feeling you get after a hard day's work... the accents... the people... the architecture (if only we could have done to the Garden District... or could have seen the French Quarter during the day!)...

I was already planning on heading back over Spring Break and now I'm counting down the days. Some people on the trip asked me why I didn't just move down there; at the time I laughed it off, but now I'm starting to realize that they were genuinely asking and a little part of me is ever so tempted. With graduation rushing my way this May, it's just about the best time in my life to do something like that. Who knows what the future holds?

With this I bid adieu to blogging and I'm going to help myself so some of my homemade attempts at Cafe Du Monde's coffee with chicory and beignets (aka square funnel cakes). The trip may be over, but I'll be darned if I couldn't bring a little New Orleans home with me!


Saturday, December 22, 2007

We're back!

Our (very exhausted) van full of people and sleeping bags and suitcases pulled into the Marbeck Center parking lot at 10:30 p.m. Saturday night safe and sound. A highlight of the trip for this driver was getting to play Cash Cab with the interior dimmer and dome lights. Too bad the group couldn't come up with the name of the current U.S. Secretary of Education - otherwise they would have arrived at their destination as winners!

More photos to come later - in the meanwhile there is a hot shower and a non-bunked bed waiting with my name on them. Good night to all!

Late Night Recap...

I think it is time to give a recap of what I have found/been up to the past couple of days. Unlike most of the rest of the group I have been laying shingles on a roof for the past several days. I got a good tan on Wednesday and then the past two days it has been kind of rainy or moist. We got an entire roof done in 3 days despite the weather and supply issues. One thing that has come out of this is that I have also met a different group of people than the others. While the rest of the group has developed a friendship with the Texans I have actually struck up a good friendship with a group of people from (go figure) Columbus, Ohio. At this time I'd like to take a minute to say Hello to Cynthia Fruth. Your son tells me you found out about this blog and are probably reading it. I have enjoyed spending several evenings with this group of people. Last night that even ended up resulting in a 2 hour discussion on our beliefs as it pertains to our Christian faiths. While this was an amazing experience, it kept me up till 1 a.m. when I had to be up at 6:30 a.m. I have been pretty tired today as a result but with a long van ride ahead in the morning I'm not too worried.

God Bless,