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"Giving help to the helpless"

Now, technically, Tim should be the one writing this, but if it's dependent on him to do it, it'll probably never get done. So, I'm going to do my best!

The one really exciting thing in our family this winter was that Tim had an opportunity to go to Slidell, Louisiana for a week in February on a mission trip. Slidell is just outside New Orleans, and even though it's been more than two years since Katrina, most of the area is still devastated. Our church has sent several work teams to Slidell to partner with a local church in rebuilding homes and businesses, and Tim went on the most recent one.

The week was exciting for those of us left at home, too, though in a less pleasant way. Emily got the flu and had 103 degree fevers and hallucinations for four nights. It was very scary, with her sitting in bed perfectly awake but screaming at things she was seeing that weren't there. I couldn't calm her down, and she was even scared to look at me, saying there were scary lumps all over me. I had to cover my face when I went near her! It was very scary going through that by myself. Tim was gone from Sunday to Saturday, but the day after he got back he had to leave right away for a technology conference in Hershey, so he was gone for a week and a half in all, and it was very long!

I don't have any pictures from MY exciting week, for which you're probably grateful, but I do for Tim's, and I'll try to describe them as I best remember Tim telling them to me.

This is the entire mission team, made up of members from our church (Grace Point) and Addisville Reformed in Richboro.

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This is Faith Bible Church, the church that has been coordinating relief teams in the area ever since Katrina. Almost every week of the year volunteer teams go there from around the country to help rebuild. A warehouse has been built behind the church through donations to the church and FBC keeps a tool room well stocked with tools (purchased with donations or donated), so that teams have access to everything they need.

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Tim spent his week with three others in finishing a woman's house who had been living in her unfinished shell of a house for the past two years. By the end of the week they had finished the living room and kitchen, and the team that came the following week probably finished the entire house. Other teams from their group worked on other homes nearby and one worked on rebuilding a barber shop that had been oblierated by the storm. Rebuilding such businesses helps to revitalize the area. Unfortunately, the Wal Mart nearby doesn't see it as economically advantageous to reopen their store, but if it did reopen the area would be greatly benefitted. Pray that Wal Mart changes its mind and sees the social responsibility of having one store that might not bring in as much profit but would do good to the area.

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These are some pictures of some of the local devastation. These pictures were all taken in February, 2008 - over two years after the hurricane. Much of the rebuilding going on is being done by private groups, not the government, and much help is still needed.

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Here are some houses that have been rebuilt. You can see in places huge mansions right next to wreaks of homes that haven't been rebuilt. Homes that are in the worst of the flood plain (such as in the 9th ward) are required to be more than twenty feet high. Twenty feet is the depth the flood waters were at the worst.

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Messages to outsiders: the locals are understandably frustrated by tourists coming to the region to sightsee but not lend any help.

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One of the men from the church goes every Friday night to pass out food to homeless people living under a bridge in New Orleans. Before the flood there were around 100 people living there; now there are over 500. Any of the people from the team who wanted could go with him, and Tim went along to help distribute bread and peanut butter. As soon as they got there, people flooded to the truck, knowing that they would get food. Most of the people living under the bridge are mentally impaired or dependent on drugs or alcohol, making it harder for them to get back on their feet.

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The team also got the chance to go into New Orleans to sightsee. They were there on Mardi Gras, but had been working all day Tuesday so weren't up to much revelry that night and passed on going! Probably just as well.... Tim's favorite part was going to the famous Cafe Du Monde, which is known for its beignets. Tim brought home some beinget mix from the restaurant that I've actually been fairly successful in making.

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Tim thought this sign was funny. Voodoo is of course famous for its influence in New Orleans. I guess it's not so funny if you think about it, but the sign tickled Tim at any rate.

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These pictures were from a church in New Orleans, marking the spot where the water rose.
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This flag was torn down in the storm, and later found in tatters on the ground. It was kept and framed as a symbol of survival.

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And that was Tim's trip to Louisiana! He was very much moved by the experience, and wants to go back on the next trip if he can. He said it was a powerful experience to help in such a first hand way.*



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