Wabash Blogs Immersion 2009: New Orleans Mission Trip

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In the Swing of Things

There are many jobs being worked on by the volunteers from Wabash, but I am a part of the group that has been framing the house for the woman who was affected by contractor fraud. She had sixty-five thousand dollarsby a false contractor and did not have any money to rebuild her home. So working with our leader Carter, the rest of my group and I have been framing the structure for the inside of the building. We’ve gotten so much accomplished in the last two days that we were able to st stolen art building the rafters of the roof. Our goal is set at finishing the framing of the roof and tar papering it to dry seal the building so more progress can be made on the inside. We, the group, had been struggling at the end of the day yesterday and this morning today due to lack of materials, but about mid morning a shipment of wood made its way to our construction site allowing us to make some serious progress. We are on the right track to completing our goal by Friday afternoon and there should be some pictures posted of our work by then.
I’m not sure if any of the other blogs have touched on the topic of our evening talks with the group, but Brother Vance ends the day by asking all of us “Where did you see God today?” During the first day of work I was so focused on making sure I was keeping busy that I wasn’t really able to see anything, but after hearing all the things my fellow Wabash men had to say inspired me to look for something today. So after the meeting last night some of the other volunteers and I took a walk to Winn-dixie, a local grocery store, to pick up a few things and on my back to the mission a city official drove by in a truck and noticed that we all were workers for the mission. He had a huge smile on a his face and gave me a nod letting me know that he really appreciates what were are doing for his community. So tonight at our meeting I was first to talk, and I explained how I found God today in the man with the huge smile
Cody Schroeder
It has been our second day working in New Orleans. I have been working on a house that has been gutted and I have been working on taking out bad floor boards and sweeping up trash that has been left on the floor. Today, we tore out some walls in the house and also started to put down new floor boards.    There is also work being done outside re-shingling the roof. We plan on putting down the rest of the floor boards and putting down an actual floor and probably rebuild some of the walls, at least the center wall that is taking the weight of the roof. I have been really looking forward to this week and so far I have had a great time working. I am looking forward to getting a lot done this week. My prayers go out to all the Wabash men working on their different houses and to all those who will come after us to help finish the rebuilding of all these houses. I am still amazed at how much has not been done here in New Orleans and even more amazed at the people who are here helping to make a difference everyday for those who has lost their houses in Katrina.
Cory Tiedeman ‘11
This week first started with an incredibly early (5:30 am) departure from Wabash College and a fifteen hour car ride. That sounds like the BEST way to start a week…. right? While the situation just described is one of the worst ways that I can think of to start a week, I am grateful for it. It has created something that I will remember for the rest of my life. This trip to New Orleans has introduced me to a variety of new people, given me great construction experience, and allowed me to help some people that desperately need it. So far for the ministry I have been helping build walls and roof framework on a house for an old lady.
Hope everything is going well,
Brett Birch
I must admit that I was rather unsure of what to expect from this trip prior to our arrival on Sunday evening. I did my best to repress any preconceived notions of what this week would entail, but I simply could not help but anticipate the emotional, feel good about myself, life changing experience that is often associated with trips like this. My fear was that I would try to find some deep, personal meaning that would soon wear off after returning to the comforts of home. Fortunately, these past two days of work have already led me to a much more satisfying conclusion. I have come to the realization that this is exactly where I am supposed to be right now. Despite the hours of labor we have performed and the dangers we have faced, I have yet to feel the need to be doing something different this week. This incredible sense of contentment is much more than a result of helping those who are in need; for I believe that its true origin is the knowledge that I have found myself in a situation in which God fully intended me to be. While it is nice to know that my efforts are making a difference in the New Orleans community, I find it even more satisfying to know that this is where God intended me to spend my spring break.        
Adam Auter
The trip to New Orleans was extremely long, not only because of the distance. According to the change of the temperature, the fifteen-hour trip directly brought us from winter to spring.
My partners and I were working on a small house located at the north side of the Mississippi River, and our task was to clean it up, change its doors, fix the unstable frames, and repair the damaged roof. During past two days, I spent most of my time on the roof. I like doing roofing while enjoying the breeze and sunshine of New Orleans. Basically, my work was to replace the broken and senescent shingles. I figured out that I was good at destroying things rather than rebuilding them, because I worked more efficiently to pull the nails out than knock them in.
Standing at the top of the roof, I could only see few houses in my sight, and most of them were empty. This scene recalled my memory of the ruins of my hometown and the active volunteers after the earthquake in 2008. I realized that people always share the universal humanity, no matter what disaster they suffer, where they are from, and what their belief is.
Merlin Liu
It’s the second day on the New Orleans mission trip, and my facade of patience that I try to put up if failing. Over the last two days, I’ve become frustrated with the materials I’ve been working with. I’ve lost count of the nails I’ve bent hammering upside down into rafters. I’ve been corrected on a number of things that I have done in haste. Today while chiseling some bricks of an entryway, I started to pound at the bricks and cement with just the hammer, and got a cloud of cement dust in my eyes. My haste in the jobs that have been given to me has prevented me from stopping and seeing the work that is being done around me.  There are people here who have waited 3 ½ years to get help on their houses, and I’m in awe of how they deal, and have dealt, with the waiting.
Though they have been cheated, scammed, and forgotten, the people we are working for in the lower 9th ward of New Orleans are thankful and welcoming. The people in the houses we aren’t even working on give us a friendly wave. They have been through the worst of nature, and are optimistic about the work that the volunteers are doing here. Their patience and persistence in life after Katrina is refreshing to observe. You would think these people would be bitter about how they have been dealt with, but the people I’ve talked to are in good spirits, although with some of them I don’t know why.
To end this, I’d like to reflect on a story in the Bible that Brother Vance, the Pastor of the Church we are staying in, has mentioned repeatedly on our trip. He talks about the little old lady who persistently goes to a judge to demand justice, and after a long time, she gets her judgment. The moral is the value of persistence in prayer. The reason Brother Vance talks about this story revolves around a woman we met last year on the trip. She saw the work that we were doing on another house, and asked the Pastor repeatedly about doing work on her house. She must have talked and nagged at him all day, and on the next day, we started working on her house. Yesterday Prof. Baer and I were driving by on the way back to the church and saw her house now. Its completely fixed up, and looks so much better than the wreck it did last year.
David Swann