Sunday, March 29, 2009

B-B-B-Beth's Pix (slightly out of order...)

Team AWOL is ready to go to work! We have finished orientation and have loaded the paint, brushes, ladders and drop cloths. Yay Team!

Sean, Jamaica & Norm on Bourbon St. This is before Norm got his snazzy new hat!

The rest of the pictures are from the Volunteer House. It used to be a preschool for the People's UMC however, after the storm there were no attendees so it was turned into a volunteer house. It is definitely the cushiest of the volunteer accommodations. We met another team who was sleeping on the floor in their house. We were very fortunate to be staying where we did. Curfew was 11 pm but no one ventured out alone after dusk. The streets of New Orleans are not safe at night.

We had a really nice ice machine and we used it a lot! Andy is patiently scooping up individual ice cubes into his water bottle. Be sure and ask him how he got forks in his bed...

David's ready to see Bourbon Street and the French Quarter!

Sean and Allison are looking over the tourist information

Here is Towel Land. We all brought much more than we needed. We were instructed to bring sheets and towels and then found out it was all provided after we arrived.

Lots of donated shoes in the shower area. Anyone without proper footwear was welcomed to take a pair.

One of four showers in the building.

This is the dining room. We didn't use this room much as the larger team from Hamline needed the space for their meals. This was our first morning when we feasted on leftover airplane snacks.

Here's the kitchen where I spent most of my time. Pretty nice set-up here! The two dishwashers you see in the front of the picture are for stacking things on. The person on the left is Scott. He was a team leader for one of the Hamline College teams. Melanie is enjoying her coffee!

This is the inside part of Tool Alley and the only path into the kitchen. Friday morning this area was flooded due to the heavy rains.

This is the ladder storage and trash area. You will not see ANY recycling bins here!

This is "Tool Alley". This is one busy place on the first day when all the teams are trying to get their tools and head out to their sites.
Meghan behind the counter in the tool area

This is the TV room where we spent most of our free time. The lovely couch on the right was the most uncomfortable thing you could ever sit on. Each evening before the team arrived home, Kathy and I set the tables and tried to make the room welcoming and relaxing for the group. One night we made chocolate cream pies with Easter Peeps in the middle because we were "here for our peeps!"

This is "Guy Land". Fitted sheets were hung on the ends of the bunks to create privacy and block light.
Jamaica, Allison, Roxanne & Meghan's bunk area

This is where the girls lived. Karen is getting ready for our trip to the French Quarter. My bunk is to the right with the lovely hanging towel. Mel's bunk was left of Karen's. Karen's hair always looked nice-mine did not! For those of us who never went to preschool, we finally got to have our own cubbies.

Rebuilding Together Pics

"Dont Stop Believing", sung with gusto by Andy & Sean!
Norm: Watch those Worms :)

Seans Trim... Happy Happy

Alison says, "Please Steve, dont lick the paint!!!!"

National Guards search for victims: Upper=date; Lower=# of dead found; Left=guard team #. Every house in New Orleans has these markings spray painted on them.

Distruction of New Orleans Pics

Robert Green's fema trailor & the memorial to his wife & granddaughter. We are praying for you!!
Church in Lower 9th Ward. Still sighns of life...

Roof that has been kicked in to escape flood.

" OMG", says Karen & Beth as they hold their breath from the stench of mold in the church.

Gutted home on Papania St.

M-M-M-More Pics from Sean & Jamaica

Lower 9th Ward. This is what remains of the old houses. Its a stairway to heaven...
Go Green by Brad Pitt!

Whistling Dixie @ the Missippi River :)

Jamaica's $20 shoe shine...

Hurricanes on Bourbon Street anyone?

The Long Road Home....


After about 18 hours of travel, we rolled into the church parking lot-to be greeted by a Welcome Home sign! That was soooo nice!

Our hats are off to Doug Johnson and En Soo Park for driving to Seattle twice to drop us off and pick us up at the airport. En Soo had quite the journey going to pick us up. The Korean Community Center van broke down before he got out of Portland. He called AAA and they towed the van to the repair shop. Then En Soo got on the phone and started calling car rental companies to find a 15 passenger van - not an easy feat during Spring Break. He finally found one at Enterprise and made his way up. He then spent an hour waiting for us at the wrong baggage claim area because our plane had been re-routed to the opposite side of the airport due to some runway problems. We got loaded up and took off. I don't know how he managed to keep awake and keep us all safe thru the dark pouring rain as we all fell asleep. I did hear a huge sigh of relief out of him when we crossed the border into Portland. :)

We all got up at 6 am, grabbed some coffee and yummy muffins that Kathy had made. (yes, we finally got a working oven by Friday). We made it straight to the airport without circling the Superdome! Sean and Roxanne dropped off the group and then met Kathy and I at the car rental area and we returned all the vehicles. We got back to the airport to find out that there were problems getting our boarding passes printed. We all got in line at the ticket counter and discovered that since the first leg of our journey home was on American, we had to pay $15 for each checked bag - something we didn't have to do on the way out because we had been on Alaska Air. Then there was the problem of the checked bags only going as far as Chicago. So the agent had to go into each of the 13 tickets and override the system to get the bags to go to Seattle. Then each bag was individually charged on the credit card. They were also unable to print boarding passes for our second flight and said we would have to go back to the ticket counter in Chicago to get our passes. All in all, about an hour for this fun process! Fortunately we were able to print our boarding passes in Chicago right at the gate and didn't have to go thru security again.

Kathy, Allison and I sat in the same row on the way home and we were definitely the "fun row"! Well, at least we thought we were, we don't know about the rest of the plane... Allison was bored so we kept ourselves entertained for the 4 hour flight that was actually almost 5.

The week went by so fast! We are all exhausted but it is a happy exhaustion. You know how these mission trips go: you think you are doing something great for someone else but you end up being the one most blessed. We can't wait to share our stories, pictures and pig lips with you! (yes! they made it home in my suitcase) We couldn't have done it without the support of all of you and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Now...for the next trip....

Friday, March 27, 2009

Melanie's Turn - Okay so I said I wouldn't touch a computer for a week. Well, I almost made it. With all the rain we've had during the past 24 hours you'd think we were back in Oregon (except that the rain here feels like you're in a warm shower and then in a sauna when it stops). Today we arrived at the house only to find "Lake Oregon" in the back yard - kinda reminded me when we had Lake Sedler in our back yard after a downpour a few years back! I'm sure glad I don't have any painting to do at home for awhile (ESPECIALLY edging and bluish-grey paint). After almost 5 days I finally had a chance to work with some white paint - MORE EDGING!!! I guess it's the steady hand OR the ability to scoot along the floor (concrete or sometimes [but not often newly laid Pergo [which should NOT have been laid down before the paint was done]) on my butt.

Tonight we all "embellished" one of my Rebuilding Together Washington County tees with notes to those we leave behind and those who will arrive after us to help in their own ways to rebuild this city both in structure and in soul. Thank you to all who encouraged us through your prayers, friendship and financial support. Without you we may not have had this wonderful experience of helping others who have lived through such a horrible time in their lives. May our time here in New Orleans be a good memory for those we have touched along the way.

With a song in my heart AND a paint brush (for the past 5 days) in my hand!!!!!

God bless you all and I'll be home soon!!!!


P.S. Disregard all those comments by on previous blogs by my AWOLian "friends" about my inabilities to........... They probably did mention that I tend to have a speech impediment before have my first few cups of coffee [preferrably without grounds in the coffee AND the coffee in the cup] :)

Karen's Blog

Final day and we are winding down. Suitcases are packed, floors cleaned and muscles tired. I worked on finishing the last of the doors with Norm and Andy. It was great spending some time getting to hear all about Norm's life and travels. I counted 6 doors, and 4 sets of closet doors each needing a double coat. David and Meghan painted some so no one had to do it all, but it was still a job. Living with an Engineer for 20+ years I have found something else that I am picky about, much to the irritation of my fellow workers. I kept trying to tone it down, only to have my husband's voice in my head saying, "brushstrokes one way so that they disappear into the previous ones. Do the panels in the door, then interior parts before doing the vertical board, etc. ". Truly in the early stages of our marriage I could have cared less which way my strokes were going. But judging from the way I supervised the painting of the doors, I have definitely gone over to the dark side. The only upside to my team losing all patience with my suggestions is that I know there is ONE person in this world who will care! Another discovery is that Andy has not wandered too far from the tree cause he totally got me! He became as picky as me and even found a few of my mistakes - so proud! I really had a great time here and am so touched that these people have opened up to us and told us their stories. They have been so grateful that we were willing to come help them. It is such a tragedy to see up close how much these people are still suffering. I have also enjoyed spending time with my wonderful son - wow, he's like a real human being when you pull him out of his room. HMMM maybe next spring we can do this again????) Just kidding, Andy!