A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Monday, July 03, 2006

New Orleans Mission Trip: Report #4 (Final Post)

As work teams have come and go in New Orleans, one of the things noticed was that most of the accidents taking place at work sites happen on Thursdays. After three full days of hard work, tired people can get a little careless. So, it is now the rule that every group works for half a day on Wednesday, quitting at noon and taking the rest of the day off. We took late afternoon and evening that day and went to the French Quarter.

The French Quarter is the original part of New Orleans. Founded in 1718 by the French in order to control the mouth of the Mississippi River. The old city sits only five feet above sea level. Even though Hurricane Katrina did serious damage to the French Quarter, there was no major flooding. Even five feet can make a difference. Having been to New Orleans several times before, the French Quarter basically looked the same, except for the fact that tourism is noticeably down and there are some empty shops. A store owner informed us that business post-Katrina has decreased about 40%.

At St. Louis (pronounced St. Louees) Cathedral Catholics have worshiped since 1727. It is the oldest cathedral in North America. In the foreground is Jackson Square. The statue is of Andrew Jackson the hero of the battle of New Orleans. Every time I mentioned the battle a couple of people in our group broke out in a Johnny Horton song.

We took a walk for a couple of blocks on Bourbon Street just to say we were there, but I much prefer the wharf.

We had dinner at The Gumbo Shop. It is one of my favorite restaurants in New Orleans. Here Leslie (a.k.a. Lester) is trying the hot sauce. When I go to a restaurant that has a variety of hot sauces on the table, I like to put a little in my spoon and try each one. Leslie couldn't believe I was putting hot sauce in my spoon. I informed her that life was too short not to try the hot sauce. She took my advice.

The French Market is a must see in the French Quarter. It is a huge flea market where merchants sell a variety of wares. Don't forget to barter. You can always pay a lower price if you are willing to haggle a little.

Cafe Du Monde is one of New Orleans' most unique places. It is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It is most noted for beignets, a square donut loaded with powdered sugar. It is traditional to eat them while drinking a latte (coffee with a lot of milk).

Even though beignets are delicious, they are messy!

After beignets and coffee, no trip to the French Quarter is complete without some relaxation by the Mississippi River.

Even though this church is not in the French Quarter, I believe it is a good way to end my posts on our mission trip to New Orleans. It is the task of the church to bring the reality of Jesus' resurrection to places that need to be raised. Even though there is much devastation in that city, one cannot help but feel the new life that is emerging as we saw many church groups in ministry from all over the United States. We were told time and time again, that if it were not for the churches, very little would be getting done. Even FEMA is recognizing the effectiveness of the church in this effort. It recently gave the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) sixty-six million dollars to continue the effort. While local, state, and federal officials were pointing their fingers at each other just after the hurricane, the church was already at the Gulf Coast working. Of course, it stands to reason that no one does this kind of work better than the church; after all, we have been in the rescue and relief business for two thousand years.