Trip to CAMP RESTORE (through Lutheran Church Missouri Synod) – New Orleans.
In January 2015, a team of eight traveled down to Camp Restore, New Orleans to help restore a little bit of what was lost during Hurricane Katrina. Camp Restore exists to restore faith, home and community in the name of Jesus. As a team, we hoped to put our God-given talents, gifts and abilities to use in service with this organization.
Our team consisted of young and young at heart (Bert Bouwman, Madison Bouwman, Lisa Fraser, David Friesen, James Lutomske, Pastor Brad Schollenberg, Bill Wardekker and Pastor Glenn Worcester) hoping to make a difference in a city still recovering from a disaster that happened 10 years ago. Some of our team were experienced home renovators and some of us were inexperienced, aspiring handymen and women who wanted to help out in any way we could.
After some challenges in getting to New Orleans, our team arrived safely. We were assigned Bettie’s house. Bettie and her family had been waiting for 10 years to move back into their home after it was flooded during Katrina. The large house was now raised up onto nine-foot piles and was ready for drywall on our first day. A few rooms had been started but there was much to do as the house had six bedrooms, four bathrooms, a laundry room, kitchen, living room and one very long hallway. Not to mention some pretty elaborate, three-tiered ceilings in two of the bedrooms that needed meticulous craftsmanship to complete.
Our team was joined by Ken, a contractor from Minnesota, who proved invaluable to us both in the amount of work he did but also in the knowledge he shared with us. We set to work. There were two teams: the drywallers and the mudders. We insulated and hung countless sheets of drywall, used hundreds (maybe thousands?) of screws and emptied about eight, 62-pound buckets of drywall mud. Once a room was completed, there always seemed to be another bedroom, another bathroom, another closet to work on. But the work was made light by the company of each team member, laughter and Pastor Glenn’s frequent singing and dancing.
By the end of the week we had dry walled every room in the house except for the kitchen and living room (which contained most of the family’s possessions). We had applied one coat of drywall mud to each room with drywall and two coats in some rooms. Our bodies were sore but all of our hard work was certainly worth the effort when we saw Bettie’s smile on the last day. She seemed to have a glimmer of hope that she may one day be able to live at home again.
We want to thank the congregation for the support they gave to us to go on this mission trip. Your support made a difference to Bettie and her family and will have lasting effects. Also, while many of us embark on a mission trip to give, it’s often what we receive from the experience that is just as significant. Some of us learned new skills. We experienced a different culture and gained a new appreciation for the devastation this hurricane caused and greater empathy for those affected by it. We made new friends and strengthened our connections with each other. Our faith was built up. And all of us walked away recognizing how blessed we are to have a place to call home.