July Update

If you’ve ever driven into New Orleans you’ve likely been struck by how beautiful the drive across the Lake Pontchartrain causeway can be. As we left Camp Hope to return home with our mission team early on Saturday morning, the sunrise across the lake was stunningly beautiful. A couple of the students (who were still awake at that point) and I discussed how amazing it was to behold. The conversation then turned to the reality that no matter how nice of a camera you have, the photo always falls short of sharing the true beauty you experience firsthand.

This morning as I reflect over all that our mission team accomplished, experienced, and shared together, I find my words are a little like the photograph. No matter how I try to describe it or share my thoughts, it falls short of the true beauty of the experience. Those of you who have spent time together with brothers and sisters in Christ while serving others can likely relate. With all this in mind, here is the best “photograph” of the trip I can share.

Working with New Orleans Mission to pack meals.

Our team loaded up and left Ohio on the evening of July 8th and traveled through the night to arrive at Camp Hope (our home away from home) on the morning of the 9th. Work began bright and early on the 10th with our team helping a local Christian school move classrooms, kitchen appliances, and outdoor stone benches and tables from their old building to their new location which will welcome students back in just a few short weeks. Our team spent two full days at the school moving, organizing, and helping to set-up classrooms.

The remainder of the week was spent with our group spread across several projects working. Since the ROC group was the last group of the summer for Camp Hope we spent a good bit of time cleaning, organizing, and assisting with end-of-summer tasks for the camp. Another group favorite was our time spent serving with New Orleans Mission. While at the mission our team prepared and packed over 70 individual “brown-bag” meals that we took out with us to the street to share with people in need. The meals allowed us the privilege of getting to know the people we met, listen to their stories, and to pray together. It was incredible to see our students in action as they loved on the people they came in contact with that day.

Working alongside our new friends to plant grasses in the marsh to help preserve their lands.

By far my favorite project of the week however, was spent crawling through muddy water planting sea grass in a marsh. That may sound a little wild, so allow me to explain. Due to the effects of coastal erosion and hurricanes the indigenous tribes who have lived in the marsh areas of Louisiana for over 1,500 years are losing their lands. The folks we met and served alongside that day explained to us that when they were younger the marsh area had been dry ground. The hope was that the plants would then grow in the marsh and stop the erosion that was claiming the land. I wasn’t a fan of the crawling around in the murky waters (they did mention that gators weren’t uncommon) but I was a huge fan of serving alongside the people who had lived in the community their entire lives. Throughout the day we swapped stories with them of what Jesus was doing in our lives. My favorite moment of the day happened shortly before we left. Maurice, who had been one of our boat drivers, hollered to me across the parking lot “Hey preacher man, see you soon.” I responded, “I hope so brother.” Maurice then responded “If not here, then up there” as he pointed upwards.

As always I am grateful for each one of you who allow students opportunities like this through your prayerful support and encouragement. Thank you for your love and faithfulness to the Kingdom.