Hi all, I've completed my two month volunteer stint with the UCC Disaster Recover Group in New Orleans and we are planning to hit the road again on Monday. This two month period makes my 10th and 11th months over the last 4 years here, and I stopped to wonder why I keep coming back. As a site manager I'm responsible for one or two homes, and we continue to make progress on bringing the families back to those homes. I make sure the volunteers have a productive week, getting them the materials, tools, and coaching needed to do the work. Looking at the big picture of the need in New Orleans, it would be easy, and correct, to say the work we do is a drop in the proverbial bucket. That's true on a macro sense, but our "drops" are very significant for the families we are getting back into their homes after almost 5 years.
Since I'm being reflective, I realize the joy of this work comes not just from helping people in need, but also from working with our volunteers, who arrive week after week to do the work. Many are back for their third or fourth time My volunteers this year have come from Washington State to Maine, and from Texas to Quebec. They have ranged in age from 14 to 85. They have ranged from skilled construction professionals to others who seemingly have never handled a hammer before. . Despite those differences, they all come with a spirit of Christian Love. Micah 6:8 and Galatians 6:10, are just two of scriptures that tell us, as Christians, to show love, kindness, justice, and to help others. Here in New Orleans, where so many have suffered so much, there so much need, and so much opportunity to exhibit that Christian Love.
As a site manager, in the fashion of New Orleans, I'm usually called "Mr, Tom", by my homeowners and my crews often pick that up, so that's my "secret life as Mr Tom"
In the all work and no play, make Mr. Tom a dull boy department, of course New Orleans has a "joie de vie", unique in our travels around the U.S., despite its many problems, people here love to "pass a good time". Last weekend we spent a day at the New Orleans Jazz Fest. To say the Jazz Fest is a musical three ring circus, is like saying Niagara is a waterfall. The statement is true, but way understated. In fact, Jazz fest is a 12 ring circus. Seven days of music, 8 hours a day, spread over 12 stages, with local groups and the biggest names in the music business. (Simon &Garfunkel, BB KIng, Pearl Jam, to name just a few.) You wish you could clone yourself, so you could be in several venues at once. We spent enjoyable time at the Jazz, Blues, and Gospel venues as well as the venues with bigger names. The Gospel Tent was a favorite, where they made a joyful noise "loud enough to annoy the devil".