I’m not sure really where to begin. You see this was more than a mission trip for me…it was…closure. The trip began for me on Christmas night. Cheryl, Tanya, Tim, and I all arrived at LAX for a 12:30am flight. After a short layover in Huston we arrived at Louis Armstrong airport at roughly 7:30am.
Our first day was pretty low key, we grabbed some pecan waffles, grits, and an omelet…did some grocery shopping, took a nap, and waited for the rest of the team to arrive. My friends Janet and Casey stopping by, however, interrupted my nap. It was a welcome interruption seeing I had not seen them in over a year.
Finally, the rest of the team arrived and we had a nice little welcome party before we crashed in our respective areas. We needed to get as much sleep as we could before the workday that was awaiting us. Of course when you have a house filled with 14 people –two of which snore, 5 of which (including myself) talk…a lot – you know that sleep is the one thing that does not happen before midnight.
You should know that East New Orleans was completely devastated. 100% of the structures were destroyed by floodwater…that’s well over 65,000 homes. As we drove on Hwy 10 to the new offices it was a strange site because you had these small pockets of renewal that looked like little islands in a sea of desolateness.
As we worked on our tasks it was easy to forget that everywhere around us was pretty much empty. The structures were there, but the life was hard to find. The only time I think it really set in is when you would take a break, and you would be greeted with a muffled silence…an eerie quietness that spoke a story to large to comprehend.
Building Better Communities however is offering hope. Not only do they help facilitate incoming work groups but also they are actively working at restoring their neighborhood. The facility we were working in will not only serve as there offices but also as a dress for success office that would enable woman to get clothes and job training. It will serve as a day care and day camp center for children who have nowhere to go and nothing to do. They are also opening up a coffee shop that would enable ample space for community to happen as well as a place for neighborhood small groups to meet.
BBC is one of those islands…one of the few places that has been able to jump through the red tape and bureaucracy to begin rebuilding…one of the few places that life is apparent. They exist to rebuild New Orleans one family at a time, and it is rewarding to know that the work we did for BBC will have lasting implications. However, no matter how good it made me feel the reality is, that it has been 2 ½ years. 2 ½ years…and maybe…maybe 20% of the work has been done.
Part II coming tomorrow….