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Spring Break in New Orleans

“How about taking a group of young teens to New Orleans over spring break?” What?? That was the question my husband asked me in the early fall. My answer? “Well, if you really feel led to do this, I guess I will go. And, so it was. Five months later I found myself headed to NOLA with six other adults, seven teenagers, and my own six year old son.

This was the second trip for me to New Orleans. My community group had the privilege of traveling and serving together in the summer of 2012. It was a life changing experience for all of us. Because this trip was so impactful, my husband and I made the decision to lead other trips to serve in NOLA. Our first attempt was during spring break of 2013. However, God had other plans. In route, I got a phone call that my dad had a heart attack and passed away. Part of the team had already arrived in NOLA and was able to carry out their mission. Our group did not. I was humbled by the love and care that I received from my team as we made our journey back home and the weeks that followed. Our next scheduled trip in the fall never came to fruition because of several last minute cancellations. Needless to say, my husband and I were questioning if God was really leading us to serve in NOLA. However, his Spirit continued to push us forward and an opportunity was given to take a group of students from Rise Up. And we made it!

Relationships began to form even before our trip. The kids and their Rise Up mentors worked hard to raise money they needed for accommodations and food. They also met weekly for devotion and discussion time to prepare their hearts and minds. We left on Sunday, March 9th, bright and early. Fourteen hours later we arrived at Camp Hope, a facility established just for volunteers that provides food and lodging. Although we were exhausted from the trip, you could still see and feel the enthusiasm of finally being in that great city.

Our first day was spent with Alf Nelson, touring around some of the landmarks and areas that were stricken most by hurricane Katrina. Even though it had been two years since I had been there, much was the same. Many people do not realize that NOLA is still recuperating from one of the most destructive natural disasters in our history. Homes have been left in ruin, pushing families to move away or to be left homeless. Schools are in the midst of rebuilding and reinventing themselves in the form of charter schools. There is a need for help everywhere you turn. Our team saw this first hand and it validated our purpose for being there. We were ready to help!

For the next three days we had the opportunity to build a complete playground for Author Ashe School and help organize thousands of dollars worth of sports equipment in a way that would be functional for Pierre Capdu School. Some of our team assisted a gentleman named Wayne with various outdoor projects, while the others painted at Alf and Allison’s new home. Throughout all these service opportunities, I got to witness a group of teens come together, work together, and serve together, all in the name of Christ! Yes, they were tired, dirty, and sometimes grouchy at the end of the day. However, every morning they were up and ready to go, looking forward to what they could do to make a difference in someone else’s life. They were an inspiration to me!

On our last day, we had the privilege to travel with Troy, pastor of The Church without Walls, to the French Quarter and take part in the homeless ministry. The night before, we met as a group and reflected on our week and what was to come the next day. Several of our teens were apprehensive about the homeless ministry. This gave me the chance to share my own fear and anxiety that I experienced two years ago when I went to the French Quarter. I explained that sometimes it is more uncomfortable to be around people who have less than those who have much more. These experiences help us to change our perspective on life, to pull us out of our comfort zones. We were reminded of 2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. And that spirit was certainly with us that day. I watched as these teens were bold in their faith, sharing that our God is a God of love for whomever seeks it and praying aloud when asked for their brothers and sister in need. Amazing!

Will I be willing to take another trip with a bunch of teenagers? Absolutely!!

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

April Teilhet

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