Saturday, July 25, 2009

Day Three - Jesus, Justice, and Jazz

If you are reading this, then the hotel Internet has become cooperative again. Last night, I was writing a blog post and as I tried to upload the first picture, the Internet connection went down and never really seemed to recover. I reconnected a couple of times, but could not upload any photos.

This photo is of the school (Charles R. Drew Elementary) in New Orleans where we spent the day painting classrooms and hallways. This school, built in 1907, had flood damage on the first floor from Katrina, but the upper two floors had just been neglected, as we were told, since integration occurred in New Orleans, 40 some years ago. These rooms (we were on the third floor) had not been painted in a very long time, and the walls and bulletin boards had graffiti all over them.
This photo shows the crowd that we painted with on Friday - 5 buses brought us to the school. We painted from about 8:00 a.m. till around 2:00 p.m. It then took almost an hour to clean up; when we left, the floors were 10 times cleaner than the were when we arrive. The walls also looked great!

This school is just outside of the French Quarter, in a fairly low-income neighborhood. Since Katrina, about 40,000 of the 67,000 kids that used to attend New Orleans parish schools have returned. Most have returned to find that their schools are in worse shape than they were, and that supplies and teachers are in short supply. Tyson, the 9th grade science teacher who now heads up the recovery effort for the school system, is one who stayed. He did not evacuate, did not leave (at least, not for very long), and has worked since Katrina trying to help re-open the schools so that kids have a place to learn when they come back.

Friday night was also North Carolina's night to
fill the dome with matching t-shirts. Ours were yellow, as you can see and were designed by one of the youth members from NC. We met after the Friday night gathering with Bishop Bolick to celebrate the group of 1100 Lutherans who came from NC to spend the week in New Orleans. As I understand it, our synod has one of, if not the largest, contingent from any single synod. Quite a feat! We spent about an hour hanging around and meeting people and finding friends from LYO and other gatherings.
All in all, a very busy couple of days. Today was much quieter - we spent the day at the Learning Center, with a last visit to the Old Lutheran store for souvenirs of the gathering. We also visited the Thrivent Builds display, which was great since part of our group took part in a Thrivent Builds Habitat House last year in Lexington.
Now - off to the dome for the last night! Rumor has it that there is a live feed available during the gathering (from about 6:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. - CDST). Click the link above and check it out!
Also - if you have not seen any of the news articles - look to the right of the blog and click on the ELCA News Links - there are several good articles listed there.

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