One evening, we were walking through the French Quarter of New Orleans, checking out the lights and music of Bourbon Street, the mix of the street performers, when we both stopped suddenly in the middle of the street. Both of us stared at a giant shadow at the end of a side street which we soon discovered was from a statue of Christ with his arms outstretched. The statue is actually probably only 7 – 9 feet high, but because of the way the lights hit it, the shadow loomed up about feet 75-100 feet high. As we walked towards the statue, we thought how symbolic it was that, in a place of a multitude of temptations leading to addictions and bondage, the arms of Jesus were open wide. It was as if His arms were reaching out to Bourbon Street offering forgiveness, hope and freedom.
We spent a couple of nights in New Orleans and were able to take a tour around the city, seeing the contrast between the big mansions in the Garden District and the homes still in the process of being restored after Hurricane Katrina. Several organizations have helped with the restoration, including Habitat for Humanity, Brad Pitt, the New Orleans Saints football organization, and many others. There is even a “Musician’s Village” where bright colored homes have been built (with aid of Harry Connick Jr) to help bring the musicians back to New Orleans so rich in American music history. It’s crazy to think that almost seven years later, there are many homes still abandoned or being rebuilt. They estimated that 80,000 people have still not returned since the hurricane.
We also took a “swamp tour” on a boat in the Honey Island Swamp in the Louisiana wetlands, where we encountered alligators, frogs, turtles, cranes, and other birds. The Spanish moss hanging from the trees with the sounds of the wildlife made us feel like we were in another world. And, who knew alligators liked hot dogs and marshmellows? Dixie held a baby alligator while Tim bravely took the picture.
We were told we could not leave New Orleans without trying some of the local cuisine, so we had: a Beignet from Café du Monde (cross between a French pastry and American doughnut), a muffaletta and an alligator po’ boy. We enjoyed Dixieland jazz music right out on the street and bought a CD from a man singing jazz/gospel music in a café…benefiting his church and Katrina victims.
STORIES THAT INSPIRE
All the Katrina victims starting over, many who came back to find their entire house with earthly belongings and memories swept away — only a cement slab left. They’ve discovered what is really important and are working together as a community to rebuild their lives.
FAVORITE NICKNAME: “Joanie on the Pony” - for the “Joan of Arc” statue down by the French Market
OFTEN HEARD: “Watch out for the horse” – as spoken by Tim to Dixie while walking through the French Quarter to keep her from getting run over by a carriage while she takes pictures.
WHY DOES THAT MCDONALD’S LOOK LIKE A CHURCH? Locals call it “St. Mac’s” because of its cathedral look due to a city ordinance to keep it uniform with the prestigious St. Charles Street.
OFT REPEATED PHRASE: “Look, another Baptist Church” – as seen (it seems) every few miles down here in the South.
Thanks for taking this journey with us…
So…catch the vision
Feel our heart
Join the movement
As we SERVE ACROSS AMERICA!