Time does fly! It only seems like yesterday when we all set out on our Spring Break’s to Louisiana. Mark this year is heading another trip down there, as a lot of work stills needs to be done. We wish him and the volunteers with him a successful and safe journey.

Volunteers have been pouring into the southern states to help with it’s re-construction and it’s something to be proud of.

A few of us from last year have stayed in touch and formed meaningful, deep relationships through our common interests and most importantly, our work in New Orleans. We hope the best for each other in the years to come, and hope our community spirit will never subside.  

A big thank you to everyone who visited this website and offered valuable comments. We hope we inspired, spread awareness and brought to light the true meaning of living large. Comments are always welcome and we’ll be around.  

Gob bless.

WorkingWorkingWorkingClimbing onto the roof to remove the ceilingsBringing down the walls of the houses

 A few stills from our work in New Orleans. Within a week, we worked in 3 houses in different parts of the city, which basically involved the same work of stripping the houses to its skeleton, cleaning it out for the bulldozers to later on demolish it completely. This had to be done because all the houses had stagnated underwater for so long, mould and all sorts of organisms had started to breed in the walls, floors and worse, in the air. With God’s grace, we did not have any serious accidents.

Now it boils down to what we can do for the community. What you can do. It’s rather simple, actually. We don’t have to spend days or even go to different cities or countries to volunteer and offer our help. It can start right next door. Then if inspired further, one can take on bigger, perhaps more gratifying tasks. It’s about losing yourself in the service of others. It’s about giving someone your all without expecting anything in return. It’s about feeling deep. The smiles, the tears and the gratitude our actions can sometime bring about, are priceless. It’s worth it. It really is.

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This trip to New Orleans was my first mission trip. As we drove into the areas destroyed by Katrina, it took a moment for me to adjust to the complete emptiness and destruction. The estimated time it’ll take to completely rebuild is 17 years. It’s horrible just thinking about the possibility of another hurricane striking, but most of the residents affected by Katrina are very positive and determined to rebuild their homes and their lives. Praise them for their courage and determination. The amount of damage is just unbelievable. Although there has been a big effort to rebuild, little has been done in many neighborhoods since the hurricane. One thing that touched me was a photo album I found lying on the sidewalk in front of an empty house. Inside were discolored photos, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how these photos are someone’s valuable memories. As I flipped through the album, I came across a photo of a man, and the sad thing was in the picture he was standing in front of the now abandoned home in rubbles facing me. Before the trip my thoughts were simply that I’d be making a difference by helping to rebuild, but what I’ve gained from this experience is much more than I expected. It’s so easy to get caught up in our busy lives and to forget how we can provide a helping a hand to people who need it. Every little effort counts toward the big goal and by taking part in this experience, I developed a sense of true happiness and contribution.

"Men do less than they ought, unless they do all they can,” a quote by Thomas Carlyle.  This ultimately sums up my entire spring break experience in New Orleans.  My expectations of this trip were shattered by the first day.  I was certain to gain personal gratification and a “feel good” experience by helping out the hurricane Katrina victims.  Not the case.  Instead, stretching unto today, I feel like I’ve only brushed my capabilities while exceeding my willingness.  Our alternative spring break washed mud out of my eyes that had been hindering me to see the bigger picture.  We must sacrifice!  My sacrifice was minimal, a couple bucks and week not spent drinking from a bong and hunting for girls gone wild.  I pray that I’ve merely lived a small amount of the impact that I can make to the people of New Orleans.  We all need to search ourselves for the compassion and dive into loving others with no expectations.  I hope to return to New Orleans soon, as I wish for everyone.  There are truly no words to justify the ultimate reality in which these people have faced, you must see for yourself.  In which case I’ll end with the words from the bible, Ecclesiastes says, “Let thy words be few.” Our actions can speak so much more.

The soul legend, Stevie Wonder, makes a plea for the forgotten victims of Katrina in his new video 'Shelter in the Rain' . Click here to watch the video.

      Our trip to New Orleans was one of the most challenging, yet extremely rewarding experiences of my life.  To be honest, I originally decided to go on this trip because I thought it would look good on my resume, however, once I got down there and saw the devastation, I felt ashamed that I was going for myself.  My mind-set changed quickly and I truly wanted to help as much as possible.  I won’t lie and say that the work was fun; it was strenuous and downright disgusting at times.  However, knowing that you are giving people the opportunity to start a fresh new life in the town that they love is a feeling I cannot even begin to describe.  The only disheartening part of the trip was the thought that our group of eleven worked our butts off for five days and did not even make a dent in the work that needs to be done. 

      To all of you reading this, the Gulf needs our help desperately.  There is a lot to do and not even close to enough people to do it.  Imagine that being your hometown.  With enough help it will be put back together.  Please volunteer and keep the rebuilding going forward.  I will do the same. 

      Thank you for your hospitality, New Orleans.

      I have done many mission trips through my Lutheran church back home to cities all over the United States including Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, Nashville, and also Toronto so I assumed I would be at least kind of prepared for the work in New Orleans. Upon driving into New Orleans I realized that I could never have been prepared for what I saw. It is as if nothing has been touched since the day after the water had been pumped out. Entire neighborhoods were deserted. It looked as if the entire city had been deserted during a war. I remember thinking to myself how can I possibly make a difference in such devastation.

      Throughout the week I was able to work on three houses. The first family was considered lucky because their house was located in Lakeshore a district of well to do families that were able to get many of their belongings to the second floor of their two story homes. Lakeshore only got less than 8 feet of water. In my mind I couldn’t understand how this family could in any way possible be considered lucky. The next day we worked for a family in which the mother had gotten in as soon as possible after the flood had been pumped out and gotten to work on her home. She is in her 40's with a husband in his 60's and a son who lost two friends in the flood. She also is caring for a grand child. She has gotten her house to the point in which she only need finishing details done by our group even though she has major heart complications. The determination of this lady and most of the people of New Orleans to get back on their feet and back to normal is heart wrenching and amazing. I only hope to be as strong willed and determined in my every day life as they are. The last house we gutted from the beginning meaning that we were responsible for removing all of the ruined personal belongings so that we could tear down the dry wall remove the ceilings and the insulation. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done to sort through ruined photos and memories of a family I had never met. On top of the physical strength I found this past week that I never knew I had, I was inspired to look deep inside myself for a spiritual strength that could even partially match that of the people of New Orleans.