Thursday, March 09, 2006

Journal Entries - Slidell, LA

2.26.2006 // We arrived in Slidell, Louisiana today after a nineteen-hour drive. My first impression of the area, stupidly, is that it's not as bad as I thought it would be. Messy, yes - but far less... what's the word? Dramatic. I feel bad for not feeling worse about the situation here. Then I tried to imagine what it would be like to look for the bodies of my family and neighbors among once-familiar environs. I could not, but I find the weight of the experience many of the people here have been through is begining to sink in. Lord, would You grace me with a heart that loves.

2.28.2006 // Took time to take in a 'family-friendly' Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans ("Nawlins") this morning. Amid organized chaos, I saw a people so critical of their own city. But under their blatant disdain runs a strong fraternal current. It reminded me of when I was younger - often, I would wreak havoc on my little brother and sister. That was my "right" as their older brother. But also because they are my family, anyone else who messed with them caught hell. I get that same sense from the folks of this city.

3.1.2006 // My hands bled a little as I worked on a house today. It made me think of Jesus the carpenter, the teacher, building something. It occured to me again this afternoon that fixing physical houses do not build spiritual ones (I'm finding this to be a metaphor not short of use round these parts). But physical houses is surely a start, an in-road. Jesus' hands surely bled more than mine. Lord, would You grace me with strong hands to serve.

3.2.2006 // I miss Katie and Caleb. I wonder what it would have been like for us if this was our town? Would we stay and rebuild, or move on? One thing is certain, though - I feel sharp here. There are no church politics, no glad-handing the 'powers that be', no hours sitting behind a desk. There is work - and plenty of it - and you simply go out and do it. The novacaine of northern Virginia has withdrawn, at least in part. This feels very close to where I once had been, in a different season. The lure of the field was at the forefront of my mind today.

Post Scriptum: I am encouraged to see that most of the relief effort here is through the Church.

Post Post Scriptum: I loves me some jambalaya.

3.3.2006 // It's cool to see life taking place in the communities here. Neighbors who once argued over their property lines or who never spoke at all are coming together. One guy told me today it was becoming difficult for him to look at the storm as a bad thing, simply because of the good that has come of it since. I praised God for making His glory known here.

3.4.2006 // Heading home. This place will cease to be reality for us (for now), but I pray the Lord won't simply let it rot to vague and distant memory. The longer I was here, the more I see how wrong my first impressions were about the damage not being so bad. Thing is, I came nearly completely focused on the external damage; the overturned cars, the misplaced furniture, the junk, the occasional missing wall or caved-in roof or blown-down tree. That damage is secondary to the fact that folks' lives - not just their stuff - have been deeply impacted by the hurricane. And now, as they rebuild, it is lives that matter, not simply houses and more junk that will be blown about by the next storm.

I wondered at first if what we were doing here - rebuilding houses - really matters. I know it did for at least two families. The amount of work and repair to be done seems incalculable, but but it is undeniable that God is at work here. His grace was shown to the world through a cross. His grace is shown to Louisiana through a storm. Lord, would you grace us with eyes to see and ears to hear - Your glory is all around.

PERSPECTIVES // diddy | stroud | allie | truitt | julia | shelley


van.diesel said...

If i missed any o' you folks who went on this trip and blogged about it, drop me the link, yo.

j truitt said...

Jumbalaya, gumbo, Popeye's chicken, and beignets. The foods that will always remind me of Slidell.

goodwillhiking said...

I identify with your feeling the pull and "lure" of the field in contrast with the novacaine of everyday life. i can almost feel just by reading your journal.

we spend our time learning about how God loves people and even telling others that we love them and God loves them.
but will we love? will we be God's hands and feet and let Him love through us?

experiences like yours can feel like a breath of fresh air, a grabbing and shaking of the shoulders, a slap in the face even to awaken us.

this is what we are to be about. learn, yes. tell, yes. but love--in action. like our savior did.

jules said...

amen. awesome snapshots--visual and written.

music.angel said...

it's great to see your thoughts...i've checked a couple times to see if you've posted =)

I did put mine up as well now...i'm all about the 'link'age =)

samb said...


1. As a writer, I must say, you underestimate your ability to convey your thoughts into words. I say the same thing about the diddy. You both, are very good at conveying what you are feeling and thinking into readable material. Stuff people can easily swim through to get to your ending point and deal with what you are dealing with. Good Word.

2. You also underestimate your ability to compose images inside of a digital lens. Don't think I wont buy you a camera.

aesthetic realist said...

hmm, very beautiful. I have a friend who will be there this weekend, doing the same type of work. cheers!

Allie said...

I just tried commenting and it didn't work.

All I said was:

"You are a good writer d00d!"

Marcus Neto said...

Hey Jason, Marcus here. Glad to see you had a good time. I really enjoyed your comments. The one that struck home the hardest is the novacaine of Northern Virginia comment. 1.5 years ago when we left I made the comment to Jen that I felt we had been leading sterile lives. That there was something numbing about it and that I did not feel alive. Maybe I read 1 too many Eldridge books (wha can resist), but I am glad to know that I am not alone in thinking that there is something off about life in the most powerful city in the world. G3 and his better half mentioned it when they left NoVa too. Their comment was that living in NoVa you tend to forget how the rest of the US lives. Anyway.... it resonanted with me.

I also just wanted to say thanks to RBC for keeping up the support. As you mentioned FEMA sucks. The insurance companies are a bunch of crooks and the only way this area gets and breaks is from good people like the group you took down coming down to help lend a hand.

Praise God!

Jeremy said...

that man loves the lorrd.

nice pics brother....


Kim Curry said...

Jason ~ What new perspectives we gain when we go through the 'storms of life'! Wouldn't it be nice if we got the whole picture of God's omnipotence without the thunder, lightening, and wind being necessary? But, alas, we do not, and so the storms become necessary to remind us of God and our response to him. I'm heading to Mississippi/Louisianna in a few months with a bunch of high schoolers to lend a helping hand - please pray for the details to come together and for our hearts, my heart, to be penetrable. Our past two sermons at church have been about compassion - you might enjoy them in light of your recent experiences. Check them out at Hope all is well!