On Thursday I had several great home visits with people trying to rebuild that I think I can actually help! I went to speak with one man on Thursday morning, and by Friday morning we'd gotten him 15 sheets of drywall, one bag of insulation, and restored quite a bit of his hope and faith. His neighbor and my roommate helped deliver that joy, which renewed my faith in the possibilities of communities working together down here.
On Friday, the whole Gulf Coast Mission gang gathered in Gulfport for fellowship and fun. We missed my roommate Brenna dearly, but really enjoyed having some time to just talk and play together. Friday night was my roommate George's 21st Birthday Party, held at our house with a Mardi Gras Ball theme. George, and the whole crew, really seemed to have a great time. I loved finally having a home, a real home, with which to share with good friends.
Saturday was a day of great conversation and celebration. I had some good chats with some good friends here and then whooped it up at my first New Orleans Mardi Gras Parade. I returned home last night with a ridiculous bag of loot and an appreciation of what this holiday can do for a city that really needs the fun to return to their lives.
As I write to you now, I am sitting in the parking lot of Orange Grove Presbyterian Church. I came to worship here today because I needed an earlier service, so that I'd have time to make it to two more parades this afternoon. I know, I am out of control with the parades. But Orange Grove just happened to be a great place to be this morning. Orange Grove is a tiny church on the north side of Gulfport with a membership of 7 people. They petitioned to close their doors before Katrina hit, but the Presbytery kept them on. This past summer, linked with Handsboro, they called Pastor Scott and began their own rebuild. Today, they announced a name change for their congregation- to New Life Presbyterian Church. They are meeting now, as I write, to plan for how they can begin this new life as a congregation in this rebuilding community.
This week has demonstrated to me what a gift it is to be present to bear witness to all of the rebirth on the Gulf Coast. I have to remind myself to look at it that way sometimes. The view has been good this week.