Out of all the amazing experiences I have had in my mere twenty years of life, I think our adventure in the Bayou definitely tops the chart. This experience was satisfying on so many different levels. Like Bekah so eloquently explained, the company on the trip was like no other. Going on a week-long trip with eleven strangers can be daunting, but the harmony of our group was astonishing. I mean we sat at Starbucks talking until they kicked us out! There was not one fight or quarrel, even when hot topics arose. Each of us were very diverse and I think that is one strength our team had. I am so grateful that I was able to get to know each person. My one regret is that I did not meet these individuals sooner.
Another rewarding experience on the trip was the physical labor. The group as a whole was not sure what to expect diving into this experience, but it was comforting that we were diving in together. Everyone had their specialties on the work site, Kelly and Chelsey can now install siding on your house in two seconds flat, and Karen and Bekah could nail in soffit to any porch roof. There were cuts, bruises and soreness, but nothing a little Ibuprofen couldn’t handle. By the end of the week Chelsea could hammer in a nail in less than five hits (which was a big improvement), we were using power tools with confidence and climbing onto ladders forgetting our fear of heights. We were able to make achievements both physically and mentally. I think we could now do some mean home improvements if anyone is looking for a construction crew!!
By far the most gratifying aspect of our spring break adventure was helping those in need. After touring the devastation that still remains in New Orleans five years after Katrina, it was apparent that there is so much more mending to be done. But with all the hurt and destruction, we were very lucky to see the light that Mack, Smitty, and Ronald are creating after this storm. Going on that tour and hearing those men’s stories really hit all of us and gave us even more motivation for the work week ahead. For me the moment that gave me chills happened when we were looking at the holes in the rooftops that functioned as the only escape for the hurricane victims. Hearing about what these people went through and what they are still battling is heartbreaking, but they are slowly but surely trying to rebuild their lives and their roots in New Orleans.
I think the biggest lesson we could learn from our week in the bayou is the kindness and selflessness shown by Mack, Ronald and Smitty. They are resilient after losing everything and are helping others even when they need help themselves.