I have finally made it to New Orleans!!! I cannot believe I am here, it seems so surreal. The entire car ride down here with Mom through the winding, endless highway of Mississippi, my stomach was a bundle of nerves. But as soon as I stepped out the car in front of "The Blue House" and saw the smiling faces of my new roommates I felt like I could really make this place my home. There are 6 of us total, 5 girls, 1 brave guy, living in a cute little blue duplex on Franklin Avenue. We are all recent college graduates from small liberal arts schools and are from pretty much all over the country (Oregon, Texas, Ohio, North Carolina, and Alabama) Although we all come from different places and different backgrounds we have all really bonded over the past few days. I feel God has placed each one of these people in my life for a reason. We have been laughing and crying and just exploring this truly unique and amazing city together. I cannot wait to spend a year growing in community with these super cool people.
The second day we were here we toured the Ninth Ward. It is shocking to see how much devastation remains 5 years after Katrina. There are so many empty plots where houses once were and the few houses that survived are in terrible shape. All the empty plots of land represent a family that was killed in the hurricane or fled and never came back. I cannot imagine what I would have done in the situation. Would I leave and start a new life with nothing or would I go back and sort through the scraps of a life that is now destroyed?
Coming here to this city has really hit home more for me, and I've realized that actually standing in the midst of it all is so much more real than just watching the news or hearing stories. Almost the entire city was completely underwater and thousands of people lost their lives, many of them still unknown. Yet despite this horrible distaster, I have never been in a city full of such hope and amazing strength. Almost every person I have met has expressed how thankful they are that I am here and how they hope I am happy and can make New Orleans my home. God is truly at work here. This city moves and breathes with his presence.
After only being here a few days, I am already a changed person. God is becoming such a strong prominent force in my life and being here is helping me realize what direction I want my life to take. I feel myself coming alive, creeping out of my shell. This city has so much to offer on the surface:great history, art, music, FOOD, etc. But I am only starting to peel back the layers and see the spirit that makes this place so special and cherished.
Tomorrow I leave for YAV Orientation in New York. I am excited to kick off this adventure with many other young people who are devoting their lives to service for their next year like me. I am thankful that I am going with my fellow New Orleans YAVS and am thankful we are already a tight knit, fun group. I am so ready to make a great leap of faith into the unknown and dive into this adventure, with all its ups and downs. My life starts now.
"Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential" (Barack Obama)