Thursday, April 2, 2015

Thriving Thursday

Hello followers, parents, friends, and curious strangers, this is Grace here.

It is surprising how quick this trip has flashed by. As I sit here I find myself surprised with the amount of energy the group still has. It has been an amazing experience so far being here in such a boisterous culture, one we are certain to remember. But despite all of the temptations of Bourbon street and the Beignets fried in the French Quarter, what I think we are most likely to remember is what we see during the day. The people that invite us into their homes and tell us their stories.

As Mallory mentioned all of us have had the great fortune of meeting Miss Jeanette. But we have also had the opportunity to connect with other members of the New Orleans community as well. These people have opened their doors and shown us some of the tragedy that is ongoing in their communities and though it isn't always easy to see we all realize it is necessary. I think as members of this 2015 Catalyst trip we hope that those of you reading this can learn even just a little bit about what we are seeing and experiencing.

There is still plenty of work to be done here in New Orleans. Everyday someone comes back with sore feet, new sunburn, paint laden hands (today also legs), or whatever it may be but, also, a smile on their face. Knowing that the work we are doing, painting houses, walking dogs, setting up ladders, clearing out sheet rock, whatever, is helping someone and ultimately helping a tired community grow just a little more resilient is such a liberating feeling.

Having been here for nearly a week now I have a far better understanding of why our leaders asserted themselves to get back here and begin working again. I have never met a group of individuals as grateful as the ones within the communities we have been working. As I reflect back on this trip I will clearly see Miss Jeanette's smile hiding under her sun hat, Laurie pulling a joke and showing us a baby possum hiding in her hair, or Pops laughing as we try to thank him for his delicious dinners.

All that being said, today was a great day. I had the chance to spend more time working on Miss Jeanette's house with Mallory, Wuang, and Chris while the rest of the group headed over to Carol Williams house. Has anyone ever told you about how fearless some of our group is? Earlier this week Elena, Nur, and Anthony all ascended into the sunny skies of New Orleans with paint buckets in hand as they climbed up some of the highest ladders I have ever seen.

Now today, those ladders in place, they had no climbers, and the Wondrous Wuang stepped up, literally. He faced his fears and climbed up to do what needed to be done. I was not so wondrous, but, luckily helped to keep him positive while I painted on a smaller ladder by his side. By the end of the afternoon we had completed the back wall. When we first saw the house on Tuesday it needed primer and paint still, today, it just needed to dry. Two coats of both primer and paint later and with the efforts of many the beast that is the back of sweet Miss Jeanette's house was finished.

As a reward for everyone's hard work we had ribs for dinner! That's right the United Saint's does not hold out on their volunteers, they feed us tasty tacos and ravishing ribs. After we were all refueled we took a little road trip over to Louis Armstrong Park and Congo Square. Here we got to explore a bit and learn more about the New Orleans history, as well as take some pretty fantastic photos. Energized by our days work we got a little silly and really let that energy out upon our arrival to such a beautiful place.

Once we were done being silly we met for a far more serious and organized reflection before people settled in for the night. We have one final day ahead of us and I couldn't be more excited to see what we can accomplish and learn next.

Thanks for reading!

(P.S. here is an example of the silliness that ensued. Pictured left to right: Myself, Mallory, and Taelor.)

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