Campus News 2008

By the Rev. Gini Norris-Lane

For Immediate Release
May 19, 2008

Campus Ministry Goes on Active Service in Louisiana  

The words that characterized Campus Ministry this spring semester were service and active.

In January, a call went out for volunteers to spend five days during Spring Break in Houma, Louisiana, working on homes damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. I hoped to take six students. On Friday, March 14, we pulled out from campus in SU vans with 13 students, two community members and me!  

student volunteers after Hurricane Katrina and RitaThe sixteen of us arrived in Houma at 2:30 a.m. at the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Volunteer Village. After receiving a brief orientation, we settled in for a short night’s sleep in our pods made of U.S. Postal Service crate plastic. The next morning we woke early for breakfast and our first day of work with Bayou Grace, an ecumenical agency established in the region after the hurricanes.

In the course of three days working with Bayou Grace and our sister-school Lyon College’s team of four from Batesville, Arkansas, we successfully primed and painted a home, painted a portion of a recreation center, cleaned and painted an elderly woman’s home, cut out windows and spent hours hammering drywall for a home renovation, organized offices for Bayou Grace and cleared debris from a home that had been gutted after damage done by Hurricane Rita two and a half years ago. All in all, the SU team did 262.5 hours of community service on this trip. Not bad for a small team from Texas and Arkansas.  

Restoration photoOn Sunday, we joined in worship with Bayou Blue Presbyterian Church, which was an invigorating and uplifting experience of God’s grace, tenacious hope and enacted love. We then drove into New Orleans to tour the Ninth Ward and other areas of the city hit hardest by the hurricanes. In the midst of the open wounds still left in the Ninth Ward we saw a church sign still standing that proclaimed Ezekiel 37: 1-14 to the community, a part of which says,  

restoration sign“Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.'"

When we went to the French Quarter, we wore our blue Presbyterian Disaster Assistance shirts, as the volunteer staff at PDA advised us. We were all stunned when people would stop us on the street, give us food and discounts, offer us their table at Café du Monde, all out of gratitude for what PDA is still doing in the area. We were humbled and proud that there are still a few agencies working to bring hope out of chaos, and that we for a few days were a part of that work.  

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