Work Day 3

Shelby Smith (Leo’s House)

This trip has been an eventful experience. For example, it is easy to tell that we have all grown closer together in our love and Gods love. Working together on Leos house has greatly impacted our teams lives. Leo was the first person we ended up helping and he was kind enough to make us lunch even though we had already brought our own and he even helped us with a bit of the work. Seeing this, I was absolutely grateful because through it all he was still willing to work with us and add some luxury to working in the sun for hours. Not only did we become closer to each other,we got to meet new people and come to a better understanding of what people who live in New Orleans lives were like. It was an amazing experience and I cant wait until the time where I get to do something like this again.

Work Days One and Two

Marcel’s House (Michael Petris)

Today started out with a bang as our entire group experiencing an old fashioned New Orleans mass. It was delightful. the service was short but full of life with singing and  love. After mass we enjoyed a delicious breakfast and then set off for the work sight. We were met by a mold infested mess of a house that looked utterly overwhelming. The owner of the shambolic house was the most joyful man I have ever met. Always smiling and always laughing, he inspired us to work on. Just like eating an elephant, we cleared that house one bite at a time. It was truly amazing seeing the teamwork and hard work of my fellow missionaries. Aside from the sweltering heat and the oppressive humidity, it was a great day, and I am looking forward to fixing up this amazing man’s house.

Leo’s House (Garrett Olson)

After spending the greater part of the day at Leo’s house, I have learned how to decipher the deepest of Creole accents. Aside from this, my heart was warmed knowing that what we were doing was helping someone who needed it. This man, Leo, is a great guy. Veteran, grandpa, and all around knowledgeable guy. Joe and I spent the day tarring his roof. Cecilia said she could see the heat waves coming off of the shingles. It was hard, detailed sweaty work. I accidentally stepped into all of the tar and left many foot prints on the roof (I guess you could say I left my mark). This made it very confusing and difficult to see where we had tarred the roof. The reason why we were tarring the roof is because the overhang for the porch leaked. Eventually at around 3:00, a torrent of rain fell upon us. The test had begun. I checked the roof: status: not leaking. However, 30 minutes later with denser rain, it started to dribble. This discovery was disheartening yet important. We had toiled and sweated and were basically tarred and weathered and beat by the end. Yet our objective hadn’t been achieved. Despite this frustrating problem, I know that through working and working and working, that leak will go away. This taught me that despite working hard and being disappointed, success will happen. It just takes time.

Day 2 (Joe Burroughs)

At Leo’s house there was a lot of work to do involving patching his roof so that rain wouldn’t leak through it. There was also a lot of fire damage on his back porch from a fire bomb that someone through at his house intending to burn it down. Garret and I spent about half of the day re-tarring the roof to stop the leakage and then we also got some work done reinforcing the support beams on his porch that were damaged in the fire. Cece and Shelby worked with Liz (one of the CMT workers) on painting the deck a fresh coat of white paint. After a few hours of hot, humid work, everyone sat down for lunch and enjoyed some fried chicken and beans made by our amazing host Leo. The whole day was a lot of hard work but now Leo’s house looks really great, and to us it is worth it. To be able to give back to Leo who builds other people’s houses was a blessing. Simply getting to know him was a sacrament in itself.

Nick – from a Youth Minister’s perspective:

Perspective is an interesting thing. For most of, if not all of the students on this trip, Hurricane Katrina is almost strictly a history lesson, or something that adults talk about when we want to age ourselves (essentially, this was in black and white to them.)

From the locals perspective, it is THE metric for how everyday life is, even today. Since we’ve dropped our bags off in our dormitories four days ago, every local we’ve run into frames everything around when Katrina happened, whether it was “Man, this neighborhood before Katrina was incredible,” or “Yeah, I really liked my wife – she passed away right before Katrina hit us – I really loved her.”

Prior to this preparing for this mission trip, my perspective of Katrina was that of a high school student who: knew that it rained a lot, that it destroyed people’s homes, that Lil Wayne put out a song about it, and that one time Kanye West said that one crazy thing.

Since we’ve touched down, I’ve been able to empathize on a level that I didn’t think was possible. One of the great things about being in the South, and specifically New Orleans is how rich the Faith life is here – even if it’s just the undertones of the culture and how people address one another. In Seattle, we’re very familiar with “Seattle Freeze.” Keep your head down, nod when you begrudgingly make eye contact, but otherwise keep everything (including your Faith) to yourself. The past few days have been the most opposite end of the spectrum that I have ever encountered. Strangers openly address each other as “sir and ma’am,” offer up prayer intentions for one another, and have no trouble wearing their faith on their sleeve, not just because times are hard or they need the prayers, but it’s because of who they are.

Over the last three days on our work site, I’ve witnessed God’s grace in ways that I would have never felt them if I just stayed local and didn’t leave the comfortable suburbs I reside in.

There is a sense of content and sincere gratitude simply for waking up in the morning and having food on the table, even if there are parts of the yard still covered in seashells from a flooding that (for our teens at least) was a lifetime ago.

I pray this city and it’s citizen’s experience a quicker recovery than they are currently experiencing (12 years and counting is a long wait to get your home and life back). It’s beyond encouraging to see those with few material goods have some of the most faith-rich lives of anyone I have ever met.

Also worth mentioning: our kids are as good as it gets. I could not be more proud of a group of teenagers who have humbled themselves for a greater cause – even if they only know it in black and white. 😉

 

Day 3 (Joe Burroughs)

At Leo’s house there was a lot of work to do involving patching his roof so that rain wouldn’t leak through it. There was also a lot of fire damage on his back porch from a fire bomb that someone through at his house intending to burn it down. Garret and I spent about half of the day re-tarring the roof to stop the leakage and then we also got some work done reinforcing the support beams on his porch that were damaged in the fire. Cece and Shelby worked with Liz (one of the CMT workers) on painting the deck a fresh coat of white paint. After a few hours of hot, humid work, everyone sat down for lunch and enjoyed some fried chicken and beans made by our amazing host Leo. The whole day was a lot of hard work but now Leo’s house looks really great, and to us it is worth it. To be able to give back to Leo who builds other people’s houses was a blessing. Simply getting to know him was a sacrament in itself.

 

New Orleans Mission Trip Begins!

Well, we made it! After 6 long months of preparation, one VERY early wake up call, and 2 flights, we arrived late this afternoon at the St. Jude Community Center in New Orleans to begin our week of mission work!

Tonight we had the opportunity to meet our Catholic Mission Trips leaders and walk around the French Quarter a bit. The architecture and energy of New Orleans is amazing and we all fell in love pretty much instantly.

After dinner, we went through the logistics of the week, and found out our work assignments – we will be working at 2 different homes this week that have both been damaged by flood and fire.

2 groups – Amanda (with Michael D, Claire, Jacob and Leland) and Blair ( with Erin, Kris, Michael P, and Sophia) will be doing clean out and demolition work at the home of a man whose life savings was lost when his home was destroyed by flooding and then a fire. Our task is to get the place ready for the reconstruction to begin so that he can have a home once again.

The other group, Nick (with Cece, Garrett, Shelby and Joe) will be rebuilding a porch and roof on another home that was damaged by fire.

Each day, we hope to be able to post pictures and reflections written by our Mission Trip Teens to give you a glimpse into the journey we are on!

We are happy, blessed and exhausted, but so thankful to be here and to begin the work that God has planned for us, whatever that may be, tomorrow! Thank you for your love, support and prayers! You can follow what is happening throughout the day on our Instagram @hfk12_2min!

 

Lunch program smiles!

Hello my name is Grâce Burroughs and today my group and I went to one of the apartment complexes for the migrant workers and their families. When we first got there the tables had already been set up with the coolers full of sandwiches, cucumbers, fruit, and crackers. After about 5 minutes or so, children about 3-13 started to come and get food. Not only that, but almost all of them stayed to chat and play with us. About half way through some kids around my age showed up so I started to talk to them. After a little bit of talking we (the 3 boys, Natalia, Allie, and I) played a game of pole-to-pole soccer. Turns out I’m not very good at soccer… 😂 one of the things I loved most about going to lunches was interacting with the children. Several of them only spoke Spanish, and at first it was a struggle to communicate, but I got the hang of it by using hand motions and the few Spanish words/phrases that I knew. As for the English speaking ones, it was no struggle at all. There was this one girl who was very shy, but by the end of the day I had gotten her to warm up to me and was able to understand her for the most part (she only spoke Spanish). With all these great memories and experiences, it was sad to go and I hope that I can visit them next time I come back to YMP. -Grace Burroughs

Thursday

Hello! My name is Gilda Enciso and this was my first YMP experience. I didn’t really know what to expect but I was definitely excited. This week has been even better than what I imagined! The people are absolutely amazing. I loved how people at the camps are so welcoming and open. They have the biggest hearts and I admire them for how hard they work. Some people spoke English but they weren’t as comfortable as speaking Spanish so I thank my dad for always pushing me to speak Spanish at home. Thanks to him I was able to speak Spanish with them. Their eyes lit up every time I would start a conversation in Spanish and it was a lovely thing to see. Everyone has changed a part of me for the good and I can’t wait to tell everyone else about this experience. Being able to “step into another person’s shoes” was great and I definitely will be returning next year as a teen lead. – Gilda Enciso

Food Bank Day!

Today I went to the Highwater Farm with my work group to pick cilantro from 11:00 – 1:00. We had fun picking cilantro while we talked, laughed, and discussed how it’s like to do this everyday. That would be really hard to do every day! After the farm we went to the house to hang out and eat lunch. Then we all headed over to the food bank to prepare and organize it. We set up the table, so the migrants could easily pick out all the food they wanted. This happens every Wednesday. Today was special because we had a birthday party to celebrate everyone’s birthday! There was snow cones, dinner, and lots of happy faces! For the dinner we served 300 hot dogs and had 250 families come to the food bank! We loved seeing kids from the fiesta yesterday and they were happy to see us too! Bridget came today to stay with us for the end of YMP! God was definitely with us when we served all the happy families and played with all the kids. I saw god in José when he had a BIG part in running the food bank. Today two inspectors came to the food bank and the health inspector was really impressed with everything! Today was awesome! ~ Vivianna White

Day 2

Hello,
My name is Garrett. I am on my first and last YMP trip this week. (Garett is in 8 the grade, so this is his last YMP!) On our first day here, we got settled in and divided into small groups. Then, once the second day(Monday) rolled around, we headed out to Burlington trace and played with the kids and ate lunch.

Day two.

Day two we started work rotations! One group did lunch program.  One group started our food bank organization.  And one group dug up some grass for a garden, cause the farm couldn’t happen today … But all worked hard.  And the short spell of rain didn’t slow us down at all!

Hi!! This is Kayla Arpin here! Today has been amazing…and my group was just digging up grass that will be made into a garden! We worked out in the sun and laughed and talked and sang and joked. It was beautiful. We found out that Michael Dion, our parish seminarian, is a really good worker…Now you know to put him to work Fr. Nagel. 🙂 My group hadn’t got to see the migrant kids yet though but we are all really excited for sure! Tomorrow we should. God has been real good so far. Last night we met in our small groups and talked about our excitement and fears for the week. I am so happy to see all the kids responding with so much joy and enthusiasm! Our theme for the week is “We are brave” and just in the past day and a half it has shown. In my small group I saw kids come out of their shells and respond with words of happiness and love. God truly has shown through my fellow teen leads, all the adult leaders, and especially through the kids. Last night we wrote the general rules and I think every kid made at least one rule that was about loving and respecting everyone. This group is truly wonderful. Just a FYI to the parents, everyone is alive and no one has dehydration or sunstroke. Our leaders are pretty good at taking care of us. They’re wonderful. Love to everyone at home. Thanks for all your prayers and support. We love you. 🙂

“God thank you for today. Thank you for giving us another day to praise you, love you, and do all for your glory. Thank you for YMP and the amazing opportunity it is. Please keep us all safe and well. Please bless our families near and far. Come into our hearts oh Lord and fill us with gifts of love and joy that we may share it with those around us who may not have love or joy in their lives. Mama Mary keep us all in your loving embrace and wrap us in your motherly love. Amen.”

We Are Brave- YMP 2015

Day one is on the books!! And today three things really stuck out:

One: 27 kids and 5 adults up here is WAY different than the 12 kids and 3 adults we had last year!!! Things take longer, rooms are sweatier, and we are MUCH louder. But we also have such a greater capacity to serve this community! I am exited for what this week has in store for us in terms of service, encounter, and community. We made up group rules for the week, and the focus this year seemed to be compassion and respect for others. – totally came up with everything on their own, but I couldn’t agree more, or be more excited to serve with them this week!

Two: our parish never ceases to amaze me with the outpouring of support through donations! Packing up today might have taken longer because we had so many donations to bring up with us!!!!!!! Thank you to everyone who supported us in that way! It is a joy filled thing to share our blessings with this place. Thank you also to some of our parishioners who have donated monetarily to this trip! The funds will be well used!

Three: we are SUPER BLESSED to have the adults and teen leads up here that we do! They are some of the kindest, most compassionate people I know. They are some of the holiest and humble people I know. And they are here not only to be witness to our teens about how service to others can help grow their faith, but just how to live out their faith joyfully in all that they do! I am constantly amazed at how much they find joy in our teens, and how they bring out joy in our teens as well!

junior high kids are the best! I absolutely love the moments that we see them come out of their shell. I love the times we ask them to step up, and they not only meet, but exceed our expectations!

Jesus, I pray that tonight they are sleeping. I pray that this week you blow their hearts open and you set them on fire for you. Help us adults to aid that process. And help all of us to stretch ourselves knowing that You are with us wherever we go.

-Cathleen

We are up at junior high spring retreat and it is going so well!!!! We are so blessed to have Danny here to lead us in praise and worship, and these junior high kids really brought the dance moves, and the party!!!  Thanks for your prayers, keep me coming as God has so many great things in store for us over the next few days!