My experiences in New Orleans are ones I will never forget. From the newly formed
bond with students, professors and home owners, the change in my outlook on life,
and the vivid visuals and potent smells; this experience will stay with me as long
as I live.
When I we left on January 7th I didn’t have any real expectations other than get
some good food and not miss my friends too much. I had no idea the impact the trip
was about to have on my life. I went into my first day of work overwhelmed and emotionally
stunned by the ruined house, and the horrible smell. The work was so hard and I
did not think I could handle it for two weeks. Not only was the work really hard
but it was emotionally draining to have to deal with people’s personal belongings
and watching the homeowners reactions. The day was hard and I got the FIRST shower!
The shower was nice and we ended the day with 4 SQUARE, which is an amazing game
of skill and agility.
The days got progressively easier, or I took more breaks, either way I was enjoying
myself and my new friends more and more. The people’s stories were really sad and
made me start to really reflect on what I was doing. I started to realize the effect
I really was having on people. After hauling loads and loads of stuff onto piles
and hearing the home owner’s stories, and seeing their positive reactions to the
disaster they were in made me wonder how I would react.
I think a lot of people would not be so calm and high spirited after loosing everything
they have, I don’t think I would. But the people we met were so gracious and still
so thankful, it was very humbling. I went in thinking we are going to go help them
and make a change in their lives, but that’s what they did to me. By their unconditional
love, graciousness, and humble spirit they changed my outlook on how I value things.
How valuable are your clothes and jewelry and other items when they are dumped onto
a trash pile right in front of you? I realized the lack of importance in my life
of material things because they are so easily gone. Your faith and family should
be what you put your happiness in because they are always with you, even through
I am not sure what scripture it is but the Bible says, “give and it will be given
back to you, good measure, pressed down and shaken together and running over…”,
I am pretty sure that is in Corinthians. This I really related to the trip especially
in the Collin’s case. I blessed them with my time and effort, but they blessed me
back so much more than I could ever expect or imagine. I helped them gut their house
because that’s what I was there to do, they did not have to buy us lunches and make
us dinner and give us gifts, it just displays unconditional love and kindness that
I felt there. The feeling of love I received at that dinner was worth more than
anyone could have paid more for the trip and I will never forget that feeling or
I have experienced a lot on this trip and made some awesome new friends. I love
everybody that I went with and made you realize you can be friends with people outside
of your normal group of friends. My most memorable experience I think is the dinner
with the Collin’s and the simple nights just spent talking in the prayer garden
or playing 4-square. It was such a safe and loving environment that was hard to
leave, but I will hold my experience and new friends very close to me and always
remember rebuilding New Orleans…f’sure!