especially when it's your sister writing it! And no, I'm not biased.
Louisiana Missions Trip • July 29 - August 8, 2006
My answer was “Yes!!” to the question mom asked me Saturday, July 29. My Aunt Carla and her two youngest were going on a missions trip down to Louisiana to help degut houses from last year’s Katrina victims. The team was wanting more people to go, and asked if I was going. Me, not knowing what my mother had up her sleeves, said no. A little sad that I was not able to go and serve, I started eating my food. Knowing that one day later on in life I would be able to go on a missions trip made me happier.
Then my mother asked me to come over and talk. So being a little angel that I am ( just joking, I’m not all I’m cracked up to be :-) ) Iwent and talked to mom. The question surprised me a little, but my mother had always been known to do things at the spur of the moment.She asked that question that would change my perspective on how I see life. “Tida,” mom said, “would you like to go with your Aunt and the two cousins (that's all she had to say) and the rest of the team to Louisiana??” O yeah, you talk about smile, I was jumping off the walls!! I was so happy I didn’t even eat the rest of my food. So here was my second missions trip and I really didn’t know much about it -- COOL!! Of course there was always the paper to tell you what to bring and so on. Well I can say I didn’t have some of it. But I was so happy to go on this trip I didn’t really care. "It's just going to be a week or so I thought."
On the way down we “played” cards. I say “played” because we had a guy who kept putting cards up his “sleeves” more like in his hat or shorts. He just about got beat up by three girls on the way down for cheating. Other than that, it really was fun just get to know each one of the member of the team. Travis and Sarah Brown are wonderful people. Travis drove the 12 hour trip to Louisiana.
When Sarah told us that “we are almost to Jacksonville,” I’m thinking “Louisiana,here we come, in a van that I hope will make it there.” I was telling some of the other teens, “if the van breaks down, I’ll become one of those ‘touch and be healed’ preachers” and lay hands on the poor van, which was chugging along like it was about to kick the bucket. Then there it was: our destination. By now it was already Sunday and we had gotten the van there in one piece, so we hoped. It was past bedtime and I was so out of it I laughed so hard about who knows what, that I started crying and I couldn’t breathe and I thought I was going to die of laughing. What a headline that would be: “Girl age 18, cause of death: was not able to breathe due to the fact that she was laughing too hard.” Anyways back to the trip.
Sunday after church we had a “chance” to visit New Orleans. I did not say honor because I did not like it at all. The food was good, but the place itself was just the closest to Sodom and Gomorrah I will ever want to come to. Every store was filled with trash. O, I take that back, one store was just hats. I got a hat for Joel there, but all the other stores were, well, trash. I know I sound harsh but if a guy thinks that joking about my Savior's death is funny, let me tell you. I don’t think its funny one bit. Ok, I’ll get off my soap box. To just sum up: New Orleans is just plain trash.
“You will be working in houses where people have not come back ‘til now, so don’t go in dark places of the house by yourself. Something might get you.” Well that got my attention. I looked at Erin (my cousin) and she and I said, “Ok lets not get eaten by some weird animal.” The things they were telling me were a little, well, nerve-racking,
but I’m cool with that. So thinking of the worst, I went to bed that night on one of those blowup mattress with Erin and went to sleep. We woke up on the floor and I was attacked (I mean ATTACKED) by some weird alien bugs in my bed in the middle of the night. OK, so it really wasn’t aliens, but I looked like a yellow legged person who also could not move her arms because she had used it for a bed that night.
So the week started and we were off to our first house. We just had to finish this house by pulling out the rest of the nails, the wash, drier, toilet, tub, closet and the stuff in the closet that was flowing with cockroaches the size of Texas. OK, maybe not that big, but they are bigger than Indiana bugs. It was not a piece of cake, but it only was a two day job. So happy!! The next two houses we did were with other groups of people from all over the US.
The last house we did was never, ever touched. Yes, “the house of stuff.” The warning "never to go in to dark places alone" came back to me. Erin was the brave soul to go and pull the drapes down as I watched for "weird animals." Back to the house. It was owned by an older couple who liked to gamble. (Well, the wife did anyways. She won $5,000 once. That explains a lot). The gentleman was more on the tame side of the two. He told us teens we should never start smoking, which his wife does and says it bad for you. She offered a cigar to me and I said, “Well, yes, I am 18, but if I had the chance to ever do it I never would start.” To which she said, “You are good to not want to smoke. It's a hard habit to stop once you start.”
So we got started on the garage first. Thinking it would be a half day job, we opened up the garage and, well, never mind about the half day. The garage had stuff that had the couple saying, “I have not seen this in years.” Sweet couple, but a lot of stuff. Some of it wasn’t even out of its plastic wrap. We wanted to get the house as done as possible before we headed home Sunday (or so we thought). Our van was in the shop on Thursday and the guy said they could not find anything wrong with it. So on Saturday night Travis said he would go over and lay hands on the guy and the van. He was joking, but he did tell the guy to just put the van back together and we will drive it ‘til it dies. Tuesday at 4 in the morning we headed off for home.
By God’s grace and mercy, the van never acted up. Erin and I thought it was God’s plan for us to be in Louisiana two days longer.
Remember: next time you have the opportunity to serve, let your answer be “Yes!!” You will never know what you might get to learn through it all.
Picture reference: 1
"A cleaned house near Royal and Flood streets in Holy Cross neighborhood. New Orleans, Louisiana, January 21, 2006."
From a website showing pictures of the destruction.