This Sunday we are taking off. 2 charter buses, 1 Escalade, 1 support wagon and a therapy dog….oh and 97 of US…and all of our luggage….and Bracken’s luggage. We are heading back to the Gulf Coast and to Epworth Project in Slidell, LA.
The last time we were there in 2011 we were all moved by the stories of Katrina survivors and the sights of where the water had been and the immense amount of work still to be done. The last I heard was that 10 years later, only 40% of the rebuilding efforts have been completed in this region.
One of my goals for this year’s trip is to help each of use our imagination to try to comprehend and understand and grasp just how devastating this storm was to this region. I have spent the past two evenings after Max has gone to bed, watching a documentary by Spike Lee called “When the Levees Broke” and it was absolutely captivated me. All the politics aside, the part that is so difficult to watch is the raw footage of humans suffering. People completely breaking down at the weight and gravity of the situation. Children scared and crying looking for their parents. Parents sobbing and mourning the loss of their children. Thousands of people scared and living in filth at the Superdome with NOTHING. I mean absolutely NOTHING. Many of us think of humans suffering in places like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and other far reaches of the planet. But this is America. This happened in our own backyard. All I kept thinking was….we are so much better than this.
Many may question the amount of work and time and energy and resources that go into pulling off a trip like this. Moving 100 people across the country is no easy feat. There’s plenty of need in our own backyards. That’s absolutely true. The fact is that we need these experiences to step out of our comfort zones and our familiarities to “embrace the awkwardness” of serving others. Jesus tells us the importance over and over again of taking care of the least among us. But is anything Jesus asks us to do easy? Not at all. But that makes every drop of sweat equity, every uncomfortable night’s sleep and every achy muscle worth it knowing that what we were doing is absolutely, exactly and entirely what we are supposed to be doing.
Every time we choose to give, every time we choose to help, lend a hand, work for those in need, sweat for Jesus….we are restoring this planet little by little. There’s a whole lot of restoring to be done in New Orleans and we won’t even scratch the surface, but the restoring that will take place in each of us….will hopefully be significant. Hopefully each of us will return home with a greater sense of our purpose, our place in this world, our responsibility to care for those who can’t care for themselves, our need to cry out about injustices taking place and our ability to be a light in this crazy, crazy world.
Thank you for praying for this trip, for believing in this experience and for supporting this adventure. I hope you will follow our adventures on social media by following #SHMISSIONTRIP2015 all week long. Say some prayers for each of the adults and teenagers going on this trip, for the courageous bus drivers, for the incredible people at Epworth Project, for the people of New Orleans who so desperately need a hand and for God to be with us each and every step of this amazing journey.
Oh and while I am gone….I expect all of you in Cleveland to yell, scream, holler, beat your chests, stomp your feet for our redhot, championship bound Cleveland Cavaliers. #allin #gocavs