See the pictures: Album 1 Album 2 Monday – Our first Monday in New Orleans was a beautiful day. Highs in the low 70′s and cloudy for most of the day (Great working working weather). We were assigned to work with a Beacon of Hope station headed up by a wonderful lady named Sharon. We were told we would be doing house work in a “well-to-do neighborhood”. Some from the group, myself included were quite skeptical as we did not feel that we were down here to help out some rich guy. Although the most important thing to remember is really that we are here to help and if we get caught up in the details we won’t be doing a good job. All of the apprehension was immediately destroyed, much like the houses we were driving past. Although a more affluent neighborhood only 20% of the residents had returned. Most houses were still showing the flood lines and the spray paint saying they had been cleared. The feelings of seeing such devastation 1 1/2 years after an event are still almost overwhelming. We ended up working on 4 lawns, we cleaned the lawns and mowed them. Each house looked like a jungle when we started and looked a lot better (with a mountain of junk) when we left. The work was hard but fulfilling. I hear that the neighborhoods we are going to visit today are even worse. We headed down to the French district to check out some local music that night. I enjoyed my first cigar and cup of Guinness (good stuff). Well everyone, it is time to head on over and get some grub. I will updated shortly. Tuesday – Today we went to work on a house that had been ravaged by Katrina. No one had entered the house in almost two years! The experience was quite sobering. I can’t imagine how the people feel. They lost everything! We started by taking out the personal possession and furniture. We eventually got down to the carpet and flooring. It took a little while to get down to bare floors. The walls were covered in black mold so we wore face masks. It was a very humid mid-60 degrees. I was wearing a jacket to shield myself from the rain and debris. By 3:30 we had managed to clean out the junk in the house and start tearing down the drywall. The house is probably ruined as the roof leaks and the timber was termite infested. Tonight we don’t have much planned, most of us are plumb tuckered, probably just rest and sleep to hit the house (or maybe go to a new house) hard in the morning. Wednesday – We returned to the same house as Tuesday. The weather was much nicer (it was BEAUTIFUL to be exact!). We ripped out the remaining dry wall. During an effort to shut off the water, Tom and I lifted a large storm drain cover that was on the side of the road. It slipped off the bar I was holding it up with and landed on my right foot. Luckily, my foot seems to be okay, just very sore. We felt very down cast and unmotivated since the house was not worth saving. We hosted a weekly community cookout in the 8th ward for devastated persons in the area. It was an awesome experience to help the hungry and needy. Thursday – Our team only (no Cincinnati team) went to an elderly lady’s home to perform post gutting work. We painted on Kilz paint to destroy the remaining black mold spores. We also helped her replant her flower bed. She then took us on a tour of the 17th street and Industrial canals (which breeched). She showed us flood devastated neighborhoods. We also visited the docks on Lake Pontchartrain. This might have been the most surreal moment of the trip. There were still dozens of boats slammed against the harbor walls and stacked on top of each other. Most of the boats had to cost 40,000+ dollars. This cemented the idea that both the rich and poor were devastated. That night we visited the French district without much happening. Friday – Meeting back up with the Cinci team, we went to a duplex to finish the gutting work (Cinci worked on the duplex Thursday). The owner was a little late in arriving so we played a game of softball at the field by the duplex. It started out with a shovel and duct tape ball game but a neighbor let us use his bat and ball. We hit the ball around and invited in a neighborhood kid. It was pretty fun (even though Tom beamed me in my bad foot with a fast low pitch). We then finished gutting the house. That night we returned to Harbor Seafood (the same place we started out at on Monday). Our waitress Aengele (pronounced Angel) waited on us again, she is without a doubt the cutest, sweetest, most upbeat waitress ever! That night I got about 1 1/2 hours of sleep because the tent was really humid and hot. Saturday – We set out to return to Grand Rapids. As always, the return trip is bitter sweet. We rode through some rain and then cloudy weather. We bunked in Effingham, IL. Sunday – We ate breakfast at the Matoon Cracker Barrel. Our waitress Ashley made true on her promise to tell us what an obscure object on the wall was from last week’s Saturday (it turned out to be a cow holding mechanism for milking)). The return trip was good and nothing bad happened. Summary – There are so many stories that I cannot even begin to tell. The awesome experiences, stories, and jokes that were shared amongst the six in our group. Not to mention the interactions with people in New Orleans. I left some of my heart in the South. I would be a liar if I didn’t say that I missed it. The manners, the relaxed nature, the manual labor of gutting houses, and some of the cute girls that I met whilst there. I feel truly blessed to have spent the last eight days with five wonderful gentlemen Bill R., Bill F., Tom, Paul, and Pat. I also am very glad to have met members from an Anaheim Vineyard church and the Cincinnati Vineyard. In summary this was one awesome trip! I learned how beautiful the south is and New Orleans (especially in the spring time). I was able to work where God is working. I was able to feed the hungry and help the needy (not on my own mind you).