And, somehow, it's the final day of our time in NOLA.
We started today early with breakfast & Catalyst-inspired music remixes. Instead of volunteering with United Saints, we made a slightly longer trip to the Mary Queen of Vietnam & worked with their farming/education program called Veggies. While some people herded ducks (to help with the farm's slug problem), others transplanted greens, and the rest of us sorted seeds. The farmers were very welcoming & excited to talk with us. After service we spent some free time on Magazine Street, a hip shopping area a little ways from where we've been staying. People picked up presents, NOLA gear, clothing, and coffee before heading home. The group got cleaned up (we look good) and headed out to a restaurant dinner together! Stuffing our faces, while enjoying each other's faces, was a wonderful way to spend our last evening together.
An incredible, previously unimaginable week is coming to an end. We survived the flaming sun (some of us now a little more pink than others), paint fumes, a tiny shared bathroom, and scaling mile-high ladders. We feasted on home-cooked New Orleans food, jammed to top 40s tunes, cuddled with rescued animals, and publicly embarrassed our service leaders at every opportunity. As I sit safely on Selene's bunk-bed, my community of ragtag college kids is running around our tiny apartment, cleaning up in preparation for our 5:30 am departure tomorrow. Laughs erupt from the kitchen, leftover food exchanges hands, and we all come together to try and remove the smelly, messy grime this week has left behind. One blog post is not nearly enough time or space to encompass all of our "highs" & "lows", so I won't attempt to explain how we have grown as a community or how much these people have taught me.
It is the most wonderful feeling to leave a place knowing you have impacted a community in need, learned of struggles that have not been portrayed through the media, government, or academia (and which must be shared across our country), and grown together as a group. I will never have enough sappy words to explain how much Catalyst has affected me this fine spring, so I will sign off for now & go enjoy the last few hours I have with these amazing folks (hopefully some dancing will be involved).
Sweet dreams to all! We look forward to seeing you tomorrow. Please wish us safe travels.