I was able to spend a couple of days in New Orleans this past week with the Campus Crusade staff team and interns that have moved there recently in order to minister to the students of the city. My trip had some unexpected happenings since I left on Thursday morning, shortly after the terrorist threat in London caused the security at airports everywhere to get stepped up. It's amazing how worked up people can get over not being able to take their toothpaste and hand lotion with them!
My flight out of Orlando actually wasn't too bad, but my return flight connected in Miami and that didn't go so well. Not only was our flight delayed for an hour because it was late getting there, but after having boarded and being seated on the plane for about a half-hour, we were told that maintenance could not repair a blockage in the airplane lavatory. My guess is it wasn't a tube of toothpaste that was blocking up the toilet. So we had to de-board and get on another plane. I was supposed to get home at 10:30 p.m. Friday and ended up getting back after 2 a.m. Saturday. But I was grateful to be home.
Back to the New Orleans trip... Having not had a Campus Crusade staff team in the city for quite sometime, a group of brave souls have committed to give at least a year of their lives to help rebuild the city and rebuild the lives of its residents. One of the neat things about the New Orleans team is that is really two teams in one. There is a seven person campus team that will ministering to the students in New Orleans and then there is an eleven person intern relief team that will be primarily helping to gut houses and meet the physical needs of residents throughout the area. I think this is a great demonstration of Good News and Good Deeds working hand-in-hand.
I had visited them to do some training with the team as they prepare for the school year to begin. The makeup of the team is predominately white, so we talked about some of the issues they will encounter in doing cross-cultural ministry in the predominately African American environments that they'd be working in and how to practically live out racial reconciliation. I appreciated their openness to examine what can often be painful issues to discuss and their willingness to examine and prepare their own hearts. I truly admire the commitment of these missionaries to leave their homes and families to live among the residents of New Orleans. Even with the uncertainty of whether future hurricanes may hit the city again, they have willingly moved to New Orleans to be the hands and feet of Christ to those who are looking for hope.
I was encouraged by the progress that is happening in New Orleans. Even since my last visit in May, I am beginning to see improvement. There is work going on everywhere and it's obvious that there are more people that have moved back into the city. More and more businesses are re-opened, although not all of them have. At the end of the training with the team, we had planned to go to a local soul food restaurant of one of the interns, Antonio, who is a recent graduate of Xavier University. However, all the restaurants that he knew of were still closed. We eventually found a great restaurant where we all had a great lunch together. I had some fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, cornbread, fried okra and some sweet tea.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with our staff and interns and ask you to continue to pray for them and the people of New Orleans. For most of us, Hurricane Katrina is a distant memory and we go on about our lives in a normal fashion. But for the people of New Orleans, Katrina is still very much a reality and many are still seeking to rebuild their lives. I'm sure that they would appreciate your faithful prayers.
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