I have the honor of writing the last blog of our week long mission trip down here in New Orleans! What a day it has been. We started out sending off Pastor Mark back home to y’all. It was bittersweet knowing this would be his last trip with us as our spiritual leader. After a fantastic traditional breakfast (English Pancakes) via Keith, we took our two cars in search of animal adventures! The Audubon, aka New Orleans Zoo, was amazing! Spending a few hours with some of God’s most beautiful creatures was most certainly an experience I will never forget. They had everything from raccoons to elephants and Komodo dragons to giraffes. It was my first time seeing orangutans and baboons in person, even learned about some endangered animals I hadn’t heard of. The weather was extremely muggy today which brought the temperature into the low 90’s but there were quite a few breezes going through the park to make it bearable. My favorite part of the zoo was the fact that you weren’t just going into a facility and “seeing” animals, they had it set up where you immersed yourself in their environment. Between the constant waterfalls and bamboo trees everywhere, to the loose peacock that followed us around all day. God truly has created beautiful creatures in every form.
My favorite part of the day however was the hospitality our group was shown for our dinner plans tonight. The owner of Bayou Country General Store, a souvenir and gift shop(very big might I add), invited us to his home for supper tonight. Al is a friend of Charles and Donna Bolian and we were invited to his home for dinner when we went shopping at his store the other day. Well southern hospitality doesn’t even begin to describe how we were treated tonight. You would have thought the mayor of the city was visiting his home with all the food. Al’s neighbor, Yvonne, helped to make our meal such as baked ham, turkey, mac’n cheese, potato and onion soup. Not to mention the dessert of homemade banana pudding, pecan pie and red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting! His home sits on the water, just like the whole neighborhood, breathtaking views of the marsh and river. He gave us a tour of the house on our way out and I for one have never seen stained glass window in a home before, nor have I known any home to have an elevator. I’m not talking about the one we have at church, but I mean wood floors, legit elevator. Sadly, it was getting late and we still had to pack for home. Conversation was fantastic and I am grateful to have met this man.
This being my 6th trip to NOLA, it seemed harder than previous years. My physical restrictions have increased so I was not able to help with the rebuild as much as I would have liked to have. It was disappointing for sure but God always finds a way to use us in His plan, which is a good indicator that He knows best. Beginning of the week the girls and myself were able to help out at SBP’s headquarters. They are so overwhelmed with paperwork it was great being able to bring down the load a bit. At the work site I helped out here and there, sanding, mudding and helping out where I could. My favorite activity though, besides using a power saw, was talking with the group from Alberta, Canada. I have very few times met an entire group that worked so hard and were so friendly to each other as well as our group. One student in particular, shared with me how much this trip has changed him. He told me he would forever be changed and he wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. Hearing this coming from him really touched me and I know that I will forever be changed just from meeting these fantastic individuals. I hope we continue these friendships we made with this group for a lifetime. Every year the trip gets better, this year I can honestly say God has shown me so much and I am truly blessed to be a part of it.