Reflections from Pastor Homer Royer, New Goshenhoppen Church UCC, East Greenville, PA on rebuilding homes in New Orleans

January 29, 2010

New Goshenhoppen Church, East Greenville, PA (UCC) has had 6 trips to New Orleans for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita recovery. The ages of those who have traveled with us was college age to 87 years old. As with most everyone else who has traveled there, our first trips consisted of gutting houses, and the house mentioned in the accompanying reflection was just such an experience.


Though the years have moved on, we have not moved on, and continue to travel there for this important work. We have been at the same time excited in the improvements we have seen, and yet have been sadly speechless at the fact that so terribly much remains to be done. We took a week to gut this house, and see how long it has taken to put it back together again. While this is sad, this is a result of the fact that the groups working are volunteers, and without the volunteer factor the house would probably still be sitting there, or worse. One of the many aspects of this tragedy has been the message of how patience, faith, hard work and discipline to task pays off.  Hopefully it will be ready soon, but in the meantime we are ever learning this lesson.


To those who traveled to New Orleans in January, 2007, (and a few others):


Some of you may know that we were in New Orleans again this past week.  Remember this house? I do. It was a dirty place! We had our picture taken in front of it, and that picture still hangs on the bulletin board in my office at church. I thought you might be interested in seeing it as it is now.


The house was open last Thursday afternoon as some volunteers were working on it. It is still not occupied, although it is very close. They were putting grout in between tiles on the kitchen counter. I got to look through it, and talk with the person who coordinated the work on it. It is the first of the homes I have worked on which I have been able to see later. I remember ripping it apart, with you all. The slate in the attic; the lathe and plaster we punched through, the front door gate which was locked and nobody seemed to have a key for. There was no dumpster when we started so we dumped every thing in the yard, and at the end of the week when the dumpster arrived, we had to then load it in the rain. When I was there Thursday, the group was making some last touches on it.


That last window along the wall in the picture was a door which we could not open because of how the wall was leaning inward. I remember the trash pile being so high it was up to the window. The wall which makes up most of the picture in the attachment would shake when you touched it.


I told the person who coordinated the work on this house that the wall you see in the picture was in very bad shape, and that some of us at the time felt the best way to handle this house would be to bull doze it. You know what he told me? He said, "you may be  right; in fact the only reason we were able to put this place back together for this family soon able to move back in is because of the free labor you and the other volunteers have



Some of you never were able to return to N.O., and some have traveled with us every year. To all of you, please know your work was so very important. I hope this picture, as humble as it is, can inspire you like the scene inspired me. We have changed lives, my friends, and with our faith reflections, our lives have been changed as well.


For the better; so much better. Blessings to you wherever you are today.


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