Blogging New Orleans, V

October 24, 2008 

The word “change” has reverberated in our ears so often throughout this election campaign that its meaning is lost. 

But if you’re truly seeking change in your life, become part of a Country Club Christian Church mission trip.  Each of us who struggled to help a brave New Orleans rebuild will be changed forever. 

Back at the gym after a hard day’s work one evening, an avid audience listened as Scott F., ever the storyteller, related the history of his tattoos.  In one case, a band of linking drama masques encircles his upper arm, a smiling face alternating with a sad one.  

Scott explained that he and a good friend each got this tattoo to symbolize the good and bad times they had experienced together.  In this way, his friend, Scott mused, will always be a part of him. 

Likewise, our fellow mission trip members will be an indelible part of us forever.  Tattooed in our memories will be Kelley’s strong hand at the rudder. (“Helloouuu, I am NOT your leader!” she insisted.  But she was, and this trip couldn’t have happened without her.) 

Neither could we have survived without Kelly Ingersol, our staff leader, who guided us daily, inspired us spiritually, and patiently tolerated our clowning and occasional moments of irreverence. 

Also indispensable were the Scotts, Fuller and Weyrauch, whose photo Jodi snapped in front of the “Scott City” town sign on our route home.  What would we have done without big Scott’s strong determination and funny diversions, and Scott W.’s quiet knowledge, patience and good humor? 

Each mission member contributed in his or her own way.  Peggy’s antics and funny angles on life’s situations kept us in stitches.  We’ll always remember Jodi, “who can do everything,” they said (and she does), and whose photographic skills provide a record of our memories; Dawn, whose insightful, often humorous commentary on the day made us wonder, “Why wasn’t I smart enough to say that?” Jill, whose quiet determination and sweet demeanor impressed us all; Jackie, whose peachy-cream complexion belies the acuteness of her ability to probe to the essence with her incisive questions; Susan, who shared her spiritual and yoga skills to keep us strong and stretched; Justin, whose willingness to do anything for anybody in need humbled us; Linda, whose quiet presence reminded us of our dedication; Laura, who, at the news that a car had crashed through dining room one night while during our absence, amazed us with her steadiness; Richard, whose wit and faith strengthened us; Allison, whose personality truly is, as Richard maintains, “luminous;” and Carty, the intellectual whom everybody loves for his kind heart and continual dedication to serving others. 

“Everything is biographical . . .,” Lucien Freud says.  “Everything is collage, even genetics.  There is the hidden presence of others in us, even those we have known briefly.  We contain them for the rest of our lives, at every border that we cross.” (Michael Ondaatje, in his novel, Divisadero, Vintage Books, 2007.)

We know we will contain the presence of these wonderful team members in us for the rest of our lives, in every border that we cross.