Mission Trip: New Orleans.

After months of fundraising, faithful supporters and prayers, this past week, myself and 9 other people were gifted the opportunity to travel to the vibrant city of New Orleans on a mission trip hosted by Mission Lab of Vintage Church in Gentilly, New Orleans, LA.

We stayed at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and the accommodations were excellent.  Our days started early at 7 a.m. and ended around 11 p.m. with activities for every hour of every day.  We were fed some of the best meals each day and we were given the opportunity to hear a message from the pastor of the church and his friend every other night while we were there.  The theme of the messages were “Loving the City” with emphasis on our responsibilities as the church.

Throughout our week in New Orleans, we were taken around the city and we were assigned various evangelistic opportunities such as renewing a baseball field, sharing our faith on different campuses (University of New Orleans and Xavier University), giving to the displaced people in the downtown area, prayer walking in the Irish Channel (one of the highest crime areas in New Orleans), visiting the Lower Ninth Ward and much, much more.

Visiting the city, I assumed that my assignment from God would solely be spreading His Gospel of Salvation and drawing others closer to His goodness.  That was only one part of the assignment He had for me, and I can confidently say the same on behalf of those who went with me.  He revealed and taught to us that the church is NOT the building that we walk into and go out of.  Instead, the church is WHO WE ARE.  Missions is not some task to be accomplished on a checklist.  It is a desire from God to reach the souls of others and for Him to sanctify and teach the souls of ourselves.

We were greeted with all types of personalities in New Orleans and everyday came with a new surprise.  I expected nothing of what I experienced and it was a journey that God took us on to not only speak to others, but for Him to speak to us a message we take lightly: love your neighbors as you love yourself.

Here are a few photos from our week in New Orleans and you can find a day-to-day summary with more photos at this website: http://ratedh.tumblr.com.

We stopped on our way to New Orleans to get something to eat.  It’s true when they say everything is bigger in Texas!
Our first night of worship.

This was our first assignment: to dig bases on a baseball field.
We visited the University of New Orleans to share our faith with the students on campus and we teamed up with students from Xavier University and a school from Georgia.The man on the right was preaching the Gospel while the young man on the left spoke against it.
This is a teddy bear that was found in the debris after Hurricane Katrina.
French Quarters.People search everywhere for the truth.

This is the Super Dome.This is our dear friend Mike from Mission Lab telling us about the Irish Channel before we began our prayer walk.
This is Kirk Joseph, the son of trombonist Waldren”Frog” Joseph.  He was just sitting out on his porch as we approached him and he offered us water, encouraged us with the song “When the Saints Go Marching,” told us about his late father and prayed with us in his home.  Add him on Facebook! :)
This is Waldren Joseph, Kirk’s father.  He has a wall in the house.This is Ms. Kathy.  We saw her on the corner of a street cutting grass from the cracks of concrete.  She said she had worked in an office for so many years that any chance she gets to go outside, she takes it and she goes out to help clean up the community, in the Irish Channel.  Her prayer and many others were the same, that the violence would stop and that children would stop killing one another.
Getting ready to give baby wipes, water, snacks and prayer to the displaced people in the New Orleans downtown area.

This is Mickey.  He was such an encouraging inspiration.  He said that all he plays is Gospel music and people hate that he does it.  But because he knows what God has done for him in his life, he refuses to stop praising him through song!  He even played and sang a tune for us.
During some down time, we heard live music and the guys decided to take advantage of it by enjoying the music and dance with strangers that became friends.
the levees right before we entered the Lower Ninth Ward.
If you look closely, you can see rust on the white thing that is hanging on the pole – that is where the water surfaced during Hurricane Katrina – 16 ft.  This is in the Lower Ninth Ward where the hurricane did the most damage.
This was our lot to clean out!
This is Ms. Linda Jackson, the President of the Lower  Ninth Ward Homeowners Association.  She gave us our assignment as well as some background information on Katrina and the Lower Ninth Ward community.
As we were working hard, we were greeted by Stanley Stewart, a Katrina victim, who now has an incredible story to share with the world.  He invited us in to tell us his story.
Stanley Stewart is now a renown name with an inspiring story on the rebuilding of his home, of his future.  Visit his website here.
Our lot after a long time of hard work!!!  God gave us some strength because it was a tedious task under the sun!
In return, God sent the ice cream truck right down our street and we were TOO excited!!!
The next day, we visited Xavier University to share our faith with college students.
These are the students of the Impact group at Xavier that we teamed up with.  They were a great help!!!
We got to park and ride on a trolly that took us downtown!  It was the longest ride ever.  But we all got to talk to other people riding  the trolly about their experience in New Orleans.
Live music and good food!

Our last night out together in New Orleans!!!