the carpet installation on Friday. Therefore Friday morning was a good time to visit the French Quarter and Market, to wear unspeckled paint clothing, no headbands, a different hair style, and prepare for an
early afternoon departure to Harrisonburg. By Thursday evening, we definitely were a crew, working
together in teams of two and three, with definite goals in plain view, and knowledge of how to work
together, with interruptions and questions. En route to the French Quarter and Market, we stopped
briefly to unlock the doors for the workers to complete some final plumbing procedures. After having
lunch at the French Market we packed the van at approximately 1 pm and gathered in a circle for a blessing
and prayer of thanks, led by “Rev” Petersheim for the work done and for safety of travel for those
leaving and coming for week four. Following a mid-afternoon pit stop, Ron S. relayed a phone call
received from Sam, “The plumbers are done, the toilets flush, and the water is running in the sink!”
(Rachid, with his many skills, had done the prep work in the bathrooms for this to happen. When
Sam saw this completion, we have a suspicion there was a real Pastor Jones jump!)
Unplanned at approximately 10:30 pm, Rachid took a turn as driver, and Dorothy was in the front passenger
seat. We exchanged thoughts and reflections that are inadequate to describe:
- The New Orleans people are so nice and appreciative and often with respond with “God bless you, God bless you.” The bridge of trust that has been built by all is a real gift.
- Seeing the Superdome in its present appearance surrounded by beautiful landscape in contrast to the 9th Ward where one restored house is adjacent to a slab without mown grass.
- The evidence of having money and not having money for restoration.
- Reading as far as one could in a New York Times photo book on the days following Katrina.
- Hearing the "it's lunchtime" call and gathering in a circle to delve into a cooler and pull out our labelled lunch bag, eat the provisions of hearty sandwiches and other goodies provided by PVMC and cooks. It was hot and we had paint buckets to sit on and unlimited ice water. Compare this to the aftermath of Katrina where rescued persons had little water, if any, and not even a bucket to sit upon. They could not retire from the heat into an air conditioned MDS van, to iced tea, showers or a delicious meal prepared with love and compassion.
- The week we spent working in New Orleans will be a week that we cannot forget. I (Rachid) went down there not knowing what to expect and came back home very happy knowing that we made a lot of people there happy because we helped them get much closer to moving in to their new church.
- Seeing, doing, and hearing can be huge change factors which will have an impact on our return to living in Harrisonburg. Our eyes have a clearer focus and understanding of "who is my neighbor". We don't return home with answers, but with questions and minds more open to the needs of our communities both here in Harrisonburg and in New Orleans.