Our last day in New Orleans. It’s been a wonderful week of fellowship, fun, and challenge, but thanks to Peg who constantly reminded us of our theme of persistance, we have prevailed. Last night the ladies and men of Little Farms United Church of Christ prepared us a fabulous meal. They were so gracious to us, thankking us for our efforts and making us feel very welcome.
All this week at the job site, we have been hearing the wailing and barking of a neighbor dog. Some of our group climbed up on the jungle gym (from the church’s previous child care center) and peered over the fence at the poor dog, who was tied on a tangled chain and could barely move. Yesterday, when it was raining, he was tied to a bicycle near the fence, and he had no way to get out of the rain. We commiserated with him all week. But we were unable to help.
In a way, the dog is symbolic of the people of New Orleans. While their Katrina disaster was prominent in the news, they received lots of attention, but now attention and money are waning, and people here are abandoned, like the dog, to fend for themselves. But also like the dog, they are helpless to move. And we are unable to help.
Our Disciples partnership with UCC is coming to an end, with only two more volunteer groups to come next week. The beautiful church that we have been helping restore will be left to other volunteer groups, which are piecemeal and sometimes staffed by inexperienced and young volunteers. They are willing to help, but need stronger leadership such as we have had in our work here with Tim, the site director with UCC, who is now looking for a job in another state.
If we have accomplished only a little while here, our drives through the many neighborhoods which have not been touched since Katrina have starkly reminded us that the need persists here. Countless houses, left just as they were six years ago after the storm, demonstrate the grave need. The need will continue for decades in New Orleans. Peg’s theme for the week, persistance, makes us want to continue our effort.
We thank God and the members of Country Club Christian Church for giving us this opportunity to serve. Our prayers include the plea to be able to return to this beautiful city.
Photos: Peg, ringing the church bell on the last day of work; and the mission team.