Last week, I spent my time on a missions trip to New Orleans. As I explain in this article a few months ago, New Orleans still isn’t in great shape since Hurricane Katrina rolled through a decade ago. Through Camp Hope and Crossroads Missions, I had the opportunity to head to Louisiana and help rebuild. Here’s a quick day by day look at how things panned out. New Orleans truly is an interesting place, and I can’t want to return next summer, both for the fun, and to help others.

Saturday: Saturday, we left home to drive halfway to New Orleans. We stopped in Tennessee, stayed the night, then prepared to finish the trek the next day. Sadly, this trip wasn’t without bumps in the road. After getting a flat tire, we were stranded at a gas station for a couple hours as we awaited the mechanic’s arrival.

Sunday: We started our day early and were on the road before 8 AM. After spending the majority of the day in the bus, we arriDSC_0961ved at Camp Hope that evening and sat in during the orientation where we had some worship time and the staff and interns introduced themselves. We learned about the basic rules, and we did an ice breaker activity just to get to know each other a bit better,

Monday: First day on the work sites! Breakfast was at 6:30, just like the rest of the week would follow. We packed lunches, did a morning devotion, and packed up to head out. My group went to paint a new charter school, but another group framed a preschool, another roofed a house, and a fourth group painted another school. We started by peeling some of the paint and smoothing rough sections while washing the walls to get most of the dust off. We set down ground cloths, set up scaffolding and prepared to paint. After a lunch break, painting began. At 4, we headed to camp and had dinner. Afterwards, we went to City Park where we played ultimate frisbee and worshiped as a group.

Tuesday: After breakfast, painting resumed! I spent some time doing detail work around pipes and other edges where the large rollers couldn’t reach. Back at camp, we had dinner, then welcomed a guest speaker named Richard. He talked about how we need to learn how to become better Christians, become a disciple of Christ, then go out and make other disciples. He made a point of inviting students to share their struggles or worries with the group, which took incredible courage for those who confessed. The point was to show the students that although they had struggles, there was a whole camp full of people who would pray for them, encourage them, and help them. Before long, dozens of kids were talking about various issues from their fears to their failures encompassing topics such as addictions, feeling inadequate, sicknesses, struggles with suicide, coping with loss, and other topics. Never before have I seen a speaker move an audience in a more powerful way.

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Wednesday: Wednesday was a different day. Rather than heading to the work sites, we focused on cleaning Camp Hope to keep it in tip-top shape. We mopped, cleaned bathrooms, wiped tables, and did other various chores. Then, we headed into a local community to hand out fliers and let people know about a community outreach event we would be having in a nearby park the next day. After lunch, we headed to the French Quarter, which is the main tourist attraction in New Orleans. We ate beignets, saw the Saint Louis Cathedral, took in the street performers and jazz bands, and saw some incredibly wild stuff from llamas in the street to “authentic” voodoo and vampire shops. My group went to a nearby seafood restaurant for dinner where I had a delicious po-boy sandwich and a bowl of jambalaya; two cajun staples.

Thursday: We resumed work at our sites, then headed to St. Roch park for the outreach event. We played with the kids, handed out hot dogs and chips, and overall, we spent quality time with the people in the community.You could see that some were going through tough times, and it was hard to see them and know that my life is so radically different. It seemed unfair for them to be in such a situation. Afterwards, a small group (includinDSC_1051g myself) headed back to the French Quarter to take in some jazz at the famed Preservation Hall. Of course, more beignets were had as well.

Friday: Painting finished! We were able to paint the entire main corridor on the first floor of the school, which was quite a task. Since we finished early, we had the chance to head to a nearby mission and homeless shelter. We packed bags of food and walked to the nearby overpass to hand them out the homeless. It really hit home for a lot of students that these people had no home.They were thankful just to receive some food and a bit of prayer. Some had lost hope; their current situation seemed to be the best they could hope for.

Saturday: Time to pack up and go home. Because of the flat tire that cost our trip fund a decent amount of money, we had to forgo spending the night in a hotel in favor of driving all 18 hours back home. What a long day in the bus it was.

Sunday: At 2AM, we finally made it home!

I cannot describe how life changing and inspiring this trip was, not only for me, but for nearly everyone else. I bonded with kids in my youth group and with others outside my group. I witnessed things that I could never witness here. I did more good for the community in one week than I do in months here at home. It was a great experience that I will never forget, and it is surely one I recommend to everyone. If nothing else, it reminds us how truly blessed we are. Even if you don’t feel blessed right now or feel that your life is unfair, keep this in mind: you’re reading this either on a phone, tablet, or a computer which instantly makes you richer than the majority of the world. There’s some perspective for you. I encourage you to see for yourself on globalrichlist.com

Thanks For Reading
Matt

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