On Saturday morning, we packed up the BCM's big white van and drove down to New Orleans for a spring break mission trip - the drive took us about 14 hours total. April and I are leading a group of five students down here to work on some service and community outreach projects in the city. I did a few of these spring break mission trips while I was a student, but it has been a while since I've done any sort of project like this, and the first time that I've led a team. We've put a lot of thought and effort into planning and preparing for this trip (which was a difficult process for me), so we have been excited to see all of our plans come together and to begin to experience what we've been thinking about for a couple of months now.
Our good friend Zack Reuter works for a church here in New Orleans called Sojourn Lakeview, and we are partnering with them. The idea to head down there came during a conversation we had with Zack over Christmas when we got a chance to hang out with him. Their church is relatively new in its current form, and needs some work updating and cleaning the building that it recently moved into. They will also be hosting a theater production in their building starting the end of this week, and need some help getting the word out to their neighborhood about the production and the fact that the church is back up and running. Our team will be helping with both of these projects toward the end of the week.
We are staying at a place called Rachel Sims Baptist Mission, which has been reaching out to a different neighborhood of the city for a long time. They have programs for needy adults and kids in their neighborhood. Today, we were able to help do some "spring cleaning" of the building and the grounds, including organizing, yardwork, cleaning, and trash pickup. There is a public park across the street from the center that they use for many of their activities, so we did a lot of cleanup there too. In the afternoon, we met the neighborhood kids there for the after-school program. It was great to be out in the 80-degree weather playing with the kids, helping them with their homework, and helping them listen to the Bible stories they were being taught.
Yesterday was a day to relax and experience New Orleans for us. We went to church at Sojourn Lakeview and then drove out into the swamp to get some tasty fresh seafood for lunch. In the evening, we got to head over to the French Quarter, eat some beignets, and explore a little bit. This is definitely a unique city with so much to experience!